Multiple Domains … the ultimate SEO cheating strategy?
One question we often encounter is whether buying multiple domains could substantially boost SEO. Let’s demystify this topic.
Understanding Multiple Domains
When we discuss multiple domains, we’re referring to buying the same domain with different extensions or even completely different domain names encompassing different keywords. This strategy can involve purchasing variations of a brand name with different top-level domains (TLDs) like .com, .net, .org, or acquiring entirely separate domains that include industry-specific keywords or phrases. The underlying idea is to protect the brand, target different market segments, or attempt to gain an advantage in search engine rankings. However, as detailed in this guide, the effectiveness of these tactics can vary widely, and understanding how to leverage them properly is essential for success.
Let’s consider an example. You’re an online shoe retailer with the main domain AmazingShoes.com, and you decide to buy the following:
And a host of other keyword-rich domains, such as:
Maintaining these domains can cost between $30 to $60 each per year. But is the expense truly justified?
The answer largely depends on how you intend to use these domains. Let’s explore the main use cases.
The Various Approaches to Using Multiple Domains
1. Domain Parking
Domain parking refers to registering a domain without hosting website services on it. Essentially, it’s like buying a plot of virtual land and leaving it vacant. This strategy is often used for brand protection or reserving a domain name for future use. By parking a domain, the owner prevents others from purchasing and using that particular name, ensuring control over it even if there are no immediate plans for development.
Example: If you buy CoolShoesForMen.com and don’t put any content on it.
- Brand Protection: It keeps competitors from using the domain.
- Potential Future Use: You can develop it later when ready.
- No SEO Advantage: Search engines won’t index or rank an idle domain.
- Cost: The registration and renewal fees without any tangible benefit.
Verdict: Domain parking serves only as a protective measure and doesn’t contribute to SEO.
Redirecting means forwarding one domain to another. If a user enters the redirected domain, they’re automatically taken to a different domain. This is commonly used to ensure that variations of a domain name or common misspellings direct users to the correct site. For example, a business might redirect its .net and .org domains to its primary .com domain. Redirecting can also be a strategic move to prevent competitors from using a similar domain name or seamlessly merging multiple websites under one unified brand.
Example: Redirecting CoolShoesForWomen.com to AmazingShoes.com.
- Brand Consistency: It can guide users to your primary site if they mistype the URL.
- Competitor Blocking: Prevents competitors from using similar domains.
- No SEO Benefit: Search engines treat the redirect just as a pointer to the actual site; it doesn’t affect rankings.
- Possible Confusion: Users might get confused if they are redirected without context.
Verdict: While useful for brand protection, redirects don’t provide SEO advantages.
3. Clone Your Site
Cloning your site means copying the exact content and design to another domain. This tactic might initially seem like an effective way to expand reach by appearing in different parts of the online landscape. However, it is fraught with problems. Search engines are sophisticated enough to recognize cloned content, and they often penalize sites that engage in this practice by lowering their search rankings. Cloning can also create confusion for users who encounter multiple identical sites, undermining trust and brand integrity. Additionally, managing updates and changes across cloned sites can become a complex and time-consuming task, leading to inconsistencies and potential errors. In short, while cloning a site to another domain might appear to be a shortcut to increased visibility, the risks and challenges it poses generally make it an unwise strategy.
Example: Copying content from AmazingShoes.com to BestShoesShop.com.
- Wider Reach? It might seem like a way to reach more audiences, but this is misguided.
- Penalties for Duplicate Content: Search engines can recognize duplicate content and penalize both sites.
- Management Nightmare: Updating and maintaining several identical sites is time-consuming and risky.
- User Confusion: Users might get confused between multiple identical sites.
Verdict: Cloning is a high-risk strategy with potential penalties. It’s best avoided.
4. Content Creation
Creating unique content on a separate domain, targeting specific keywords or audiences, is a strategic approach that can offer substantial benefits. Unlike cloning or redirecting, this method leverages the power of tailored content to reach specific market segments or address particular interests.
Example: Developing a unique blog on BestRunningShoes.com, focusing on running shoe reviews and tips.
- SEO Advantage: Original content can drive organic traffic and improve rankings.
- Audience Engagement: Tailored content can target specific market segments or interests.
- Backlink Opportunities: Quality content can attract backlinks.
- Resource Intensive: Requires time, creativity, and effort.
- Management Complexity: Managing multiple unique sites can be challenging.
Verdict: Content creation offers real SEO benefits but requires strategic planning and diligent execution.
Buying multiple domains can serve a specific purpose:
- To prevent competitors from purchasing the same domain with different extensions. For Canadian businesses, we recommend securing the .com and .ca extensions and considering others only if competitors risk grabbing them. When doing this make sure to use 301 (permanent) redirect to the main domain.
- To create a new site rich in quality content that can funnel visitors to your main website.
But it will not offer you an SEO cheat pass. There is no SEO cheat pass in reality.
The key to mastering SEO lies in delivering unique and valuable content that either educates, entertains, or assists consumers. Search engines favour such content as it enhances the overall user experience.
We hope this article helps clarify the topic of multiple domains. Our team is ready to guide you through this and many more aspects of your Web journey.