Should you have multiple sites for your business?
There really is no middle ground when it comes to the decision to have multiple sites for your business hosted on different domains. On the one hand, it can prove to be a great step forward in expanding your business and extending the influence of your brand. However, it can also just as easily be a waste of resources if you do not time it well. Therefore, it is important to not make this decision lightly. Professional digital marketers and SEO specialists tend to recommend the creation of a proper business expansion plan or the implementation of a proper strategy. Today, we look into some of the advantages and disadvantages of establishing more than a single website for your business.
Why would anyone need more than a single website for a business?
This is usually a matter of making business decisions or implementing popular practices from the digital world of business we see today. For some companies, having a separate website to promote a product to a specific target audience is completely logical. For other companies, separating their brand into different websites proves beneficial when it comes to testing and engaging audiences with different types of content. The most common question that people tend to ask here is just how much can this influence digital efforts and whether or not it fits into SEO trends for 2020?
The reality is that it is neither good nor bad for your optimization and branding efforts, as it can go both ways. So, to try and explain it better, we would need to tap into the actual pros and cons of having multiple sites for your business:
Pros of creating multiple sites for your business
You are better equipped to match diverse search queries
When you have a large company with a multitude of brands or a diverse range of products/services/areas – implementing multiple sites has proven as a practical path to take. As a result of this, there are really two paths that you can take here:
- When you have a number of companies/brands under your wing, having a separate domain for each one of them is the right move.
- When you have the same company/brand but a variety of products/services, you really don’t need a separate domain for each of these.
The only real matter to decide on here is how best to create a way for users to navigate between the different websites you have for your business. And for most successful businesses, the solution lies in having a section with different domains and links leading to other websites. That section usually lies in the footer or at the bottom of the homepage. That way, site visitors are able to explore the full extent of a website before deciding to head off and explore other domains.
Optimization is an essential factor here
Your primary focus should be for each of your websites to offer a clear explanation of what it is that users can gain from it. Remember this – you are not looking to satisfy only search engines, but also the focus of the searcher. By offering your potential leads the answers they search for, you are able to lower your overall bounce rate and keep a high level of engagement with potential consumers. And as a direct result of this, you can avoid damaging your ranking and ever better yet – boost them further.
It opens up the possibility to gain more online turf
When you have a less competitive niche to work with, it can be much easier to use multiple sites for your business to cast a wider net over Google. Having domains that can target synonymous keywords with different unique content is much like expanding your influence when it comes to SERPs. This particular benefit is best exemplified in terms of having brands/sites that target similar keywords, but offer different services that match different searches. In such cases, the implementation of more separate websites for each is far more logical and practical than uniting them under one flag.
At the end of the day – Google is less likely to select two URLs from the same domain in SERPs for the same keyword phrase than it is to offer up two separate domains. Whereas both of these scenarios are possible when it comes to less competitive niches, the same URLs won’t work for stronger industries. However, that is where the existence of a strong backlink profile can be of great help. So long as you have strong backlinks for all your websites, it can prove far simpler to grow your dominance on SERPs.
The ability to cover similar topics from multiple perspectives
Although not as common, duplicate content is something that can often happen with multiple website portfolios. When you have websites that are focused on similar products/services, the content that you use to promote it all can cross over. So, rather than merging the websites and risking devaluation due to the existence of duplicate content, categories, tags, etc. – you can instead use the existence of multiple websites to your advantage. It ends up saving you time and potential harm SEO-wise.
Cons of having multiple sites for your business
Weakening link authority by splitting it
Most digital marketers put off the idea of working with multiple websites due to the loss of link authority that it can lead to. When you operate within a highly competitive niche, each keyword ranked on that top SERP counts. And so, you want to have as much juice in a single link as possible. However, when you have multiple websites and each with a page competing for the same or similar keyword, you risk weakening the overall performance of that page.
- It would be a smarter move for one to prioritize a single website and combine all the content they have on that topic on a single page. That way, you would be much better equipped to launch onto that first results page.
- Another practical approach would be to use the secondary pages on your other websites to link towards your primary one. That way, you would be able to boost the link authority of the primary page you wish to rank.
Another matter to consider here is the backlink profile each of your sites has. The backlink profile of each website directly influences the overall SEO performance of a site and can significantly boost the traffic and value of that website, as well as influence online brand recognition.
Downgrades branding efforts
Google is improving and evolving each day, along with other search engines. That means that old formulas for impactful SEO strategies are no longer as effective as they once used to be. Simply having a good link structure and quality content is no longer enough to impress or maintain rankings. Instead, companies today need to invest resources into building and solidifying their brand. That is the only way to ensure that search engines recognize and embrace the popularity of a certain website, sending out signals to online users that it is worth considering.
When you have multiple sites for your business, you drag out the entire process by having to brand each and every one of those sites. And that process costs time and resources, not to mention having to hire more manpower to handle it all simultaneously. When you jot it all down, you end up with a less effective approach to growing your business online.
Are there exceptions to this rule?
You will always find corporations and e-commerce chains that are capable and successful in leveraging multiple brands at the same pace. However, the overall number of such cases is minor in comparison to the number of companies out there. When you are a small or relatively young business trying to make a name for itself in a competitive niche, you will want to focus all your efforts on coming out on top. And that means limiting yourself to one brand creation process at a time. Otherwise, you risk weakening your brand from the very start, which can result in:
- Not receiving enough links to your website
- Fewer visits and less traffic on your website
- Losing out on opportunities to achieve higher rankings in SERPs
What is the best way to approach the introduction of multiple websites?
Once you take into consideration the ups and downs that this particular strategy offers, you can start to examine its application. If you were to come to a point where having more than one website for your business seemed like a logical step in development, you would need to plan out that path. To do that, you might want to consider the following steps:
Carefully choose the best time to merge/split websites
To exemplify this in the best manner, we need to consider two scenarios:
- Scenario #1: Having several websites for similar products, neither of which ranks well enough.
In situations such as this, the smart move would be to sacrifice one or two sites and combine them into one or to use one to boost the value of the other. This tactic has proven to have a good return rate, especially when looking to strengthen the link profile of a website. After all, one high-performance website always trumps five low-performance ones. Ask yourself this question – is the potential boost in keyword ranking for a single website potentially more profitable than the low-income from the multiple sites you have now.
- Scenario #2: Having a single website with so many products that it is becoming difficult to navigate and operate.
There is a certain point in the growth of each brand where one website is simply no longer enough to carry the full potential of that business. With the introduction of new products/services, a website can easily become overwhelmed with the number of pages and the amount of content, losing out on the focus it might have to sell a product or service. Once such a time comes, splitting it into one or more other websites is a practical and natural step forward. As a result, you can segment audiences, ensuring ease of site navigation in the purchase process, all the while using your initial brand strength to expand to other domains.
The conclusion – timing and analytics play a crucial role
Sometimes, the potential loss in revenue from merging/splitting websites does not outgain the potential to have single or multiple high-performance websites with a strong link profile. Other times, merging/splitting can lead to less stress due to lower maintenance and marketing requirements. It all boils down to taking the time to research and weigh the advantage and consequences of making that step.
Make sure to interlink your websites
Having multiple sites for your business will do you little good if you don’t make it clear enough for site visitors. It all comes down to offering consumers a simple yet engaging way to comb through the different websites that your company offers. Sharing link authority among your sites by linking them to one another is beneficial not only for your customers but it also helps search engine bots to crawl and navigate through the different domains in your portfolio.
Of course, concerns often arise on whether or not links to other websites will steal the thunder from the one you are on. And for those more inclined to ponder on this and stress over it, there is a solution that lies in the application of the rel=nofollow tag that you can add to the footer of your website.
Another more indirect approach would be to lead customers to your other website through the smart implementation of external links in your blog or news content. You only need to be careful not to make it too obvious, but rather natural and relevant for those that read the articles.
Avoid making exact replicas of your initial website
Why change the web design or content strategy if it works, right? Wrong. If you have a winning formula on one website that ranks well in accordance with Google standards, that doesn’t mean that copying it will automatically lead to gaining more online authority. Just the opposite, in fact. It can easily lead to devaluation from the perspective of both search engines and online visitors.
You can certainly use a winning strategy and structure to build your other websites, but you still need to modify it and adjust it accordingly. By differentiating it from your original website, you provide Google with the diversity it might look for when catering to other audiences. And the content itself still needs to be more customized for the other groups of customers you are trying to convert. Hence, you will want to alter the approach and mix it up a bit.
Think it through and consult with professionals
Even when you take the time to gather all the data and weigh the positive and negative sides of it all, it can still be a difficult decision to make. And more often than not, getting a third-party perspective on whether or not you need multiple sites for your business at a certain point is never a bad decision. Our team has the experience necessary to help you consider all the upsides and downsides of this tactic.
- Contact Digital Dot today and schedule a free consultation with our team of digital marketers to start taking your brand to the next level!