Why Multiple Domains are Mostly Bad for SEO

It happens all the time, and causes me to scratch my head in complete confusion every time: Someone I’m working with on SEO will own multiple domains for the same business. I don’t mean that they have a couple related domains, I mean the same business and same offerings or services on more than one domain.

I usually find out about these domains in one of two ways: I find them through poking around and investigating the site (and the client usually acts like it’s some sort of dirty secret), or, they come to me about the domains and want more than one site to show up at the top of the search results.

I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a happy camper when I get this news; mostly because the secondary domains tend to have duplicate content (if you’re not aware, duplicate content is a bad thing). That being said, however, there is such thing as effectively using multiple domains (although I don’t recommend it). There are two main tactics commonly employed with owning multiple domains. Keep in mind that I’m going to keep an SEO perspective on these and only lightly touch on other marketing sectors.

The Defensive Domain Buyer

Some businesses are worried that competitors will buy keyword oriented domains thereby pushing their own site into obscurity. This can lead to a panic shopping spree of domains. The idea is that as long as they own the available domains, there is less chance of a competitor beating them in the rankings. While there is some merit to this tactic, it will have no effect on your SEO at all. Nor do I believe that it will really have much effect in blocking out your competitors. You can’t think of all the domain variations and buy them all, and if you buy too many, it can get expensive just to maintain them. Any competitor can rank better by offering better content and getting more links regardless of domain name.

As a side note, if you do this tactic, you had better make sure that all of your domains are redirected toward your main domain using a 301 redirect.

The First Page Domination Strategy

In buying multiple domains, some companies want to simply dominate the search results. Buy having multiple sites on the first page, you can get that much more traffic, right? In theory, yes, and it has on occasion happened. However, there are some fairly serious drawbacks to this:

  • Doesn’t work on brick-and-mortar stores — If you have  a single physical location, it’s not a good idea to have multiple websites. You’ll confuse your visitors and customers, and I personally avoid having two websites with the same address. Google doesn’t want to have multiple sites from the same business (as it doesn’t provide good results) and I consider this to be one short step away from spam.
  • Duplicate content woes — Because you can’t use the content from another site, you will have to write all new content. Considering how hard it is to write content for sites as it is, not to mention the allocation of resources to get it written, I wish luck to anyone writing content for a whole new site.
  • Double branding all the way! — You have branding issues with two sites. Does one site become higher-end and the lower-end? Do you keep the prices the same? For that matter, what names are you even going to use on the site? If you have a phone number, how do you answer the phone? While there are certainly going to be exceptions (such as targeting different demographics), such a chaotic and divisive branding effort comes with a lot of risks and extra work.

Country Specific Domains

This is less of a tactic, and more of a “must do,” and is therefore my exception to multiple domains. It’s an exception because all of the problems above do not apply when you get into other countries. In fact, in order to have the best results in international SEO, you’ll need to have a country specific TLD (or top level domain). For example, if you’re doing business in England, you will have a hard time ranking without a .co.uk domain. You can still rank without a country level TLD, but it’s an uphill battle. And by uphill, I mean Rocky Mountains-type uphill.

SEO Resources and Indented Listings

One final (and big) point to that I would like to reiterate. If you really intend to own and run multiple domains and get these sites to show up in the search results, you will have to double your SEO work. There are no shortcuts, freebies, or quick rankings that you can get, even if you are already ranking well for your main domain. In fact, a new domain and site will be significantly harder to rank than a site that has history and some authority already built. I highly recommend that indented listings (or secondary pages for the same site showing up underneath the first main listing) be the primary goal before attempting to achieve multiple domains in the same search.

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122 Comments

  1. Dan says

    Couldn’t agree with you more Scott. This always seems to come up in conversations and I try to sway people against this method.

    Sure it may work on a small scale, and I have tried this method myself. But the drawbacks outweigh the benefits… IMO.

    “One final (and big) point to that I would like to reiterate. If you really intend to own and run multiple domains and get these sites to show up in the search results, you will have to double your SEO work”… Another good point. Simply ranking on a keyword really does no good when you can do the same on your own site with minimal effort.

    Dan

  2. Andy @ FirstFound says

    Surely multiple domains is a bad plan because it makes it harder to focus your energy? Isn’t it better to have a great position 1 listing for multiple terms than owning the page for one term?

    • says

      Yes, having only one domain is absolutely a great idea. The point I’m really trying to get across is exactly that, that your work is double as a result of trying to use multiple domains.

      Sadly, it doesn’t stop people from trying.

  3. Greg says

    One is good, then two must be great!

    Clients fall into this trap not only with domains but keywords as well.

    Rapid rise and profit is only possible with singular focus at any one time, all else just produces mediocre results because of “dilution”.

    We are feature driven consumers.

    More buttons, bigger numbers of things, must mean better deal.

    The most successful SEO’s I know manage to educate their clients differently.

  4. Dave Grimes II says

    Scott,

    What about buying relevant domain, just to keep someone else from grabbing it? Even if you just use the additional domains to link directly to your main site? Would this cause possible conflicts for SEO?

    • Scott Smoot says

      This doesn’t create any conflicts with SEO, it just doesn’t help with rankings. Unless you’re buying tons of domains, putting up landing pages and linking to your main site (as opposed to a 301 redirect). That’s a dangerous game, and would also provide practically no value.

  5. Mike Mann says

    This is interesting. I think you all should study and blog on the optimal way to park a domain portfolio, like what landing page ideas would be good for SEO or conversion?

  6. Mark says

    I am currently going to school for web development and this topic is one that I’ve contemplated doing. I do have a second domain for one of my sites but am not using it and will likely not after this post. In the industry that I work in some of my competitors use multiple domains and are on the first page but I’d hate to think how much time and money went into their site.

  7. Ali says

    You can use a 301 redirect from one website to another this can be handy if you did have multiple sites then you merged them all into one or something for example if you had a few services and had these domains and all of them ranked well for there exact keyword domains this is how you would do it.

  8. Barbara Reiner says

    The duplicate content issue is pervasive and tends to be my number one concern particularly when business owners rely on “webmasters/seo experts” to boost organic rank using this technique. Unfortunately, knowing about this duplication does not remove it. Your post is spot on…thanks

  9. Simon Miskimmin says

    Scott, further to your well made point about multiple domains for different countries, I would like to further emphasize this point by advising companies that one domain name is no longer sufficient in reaching customers across the globe, and in this case, as you said, varying appropriate geographical domain names are a very wise choice.

  10. Alfelt says

    Scott, I was very happy to find this article because someone told one of my clients it would help SEO to point a bunch of domains at their web site…. not create new sites just point them at the existing site. So the client went out and purchased a bunch of domains and now wants me to point them at their web site. I am fairly confident that this is going to do nothing and might even hurt their SEO.

    From what you said above it sounds like the best way to use multiple domains on a single site is to use a 301 redirect… but chances are it still will not show up in SE results… but probably won’t hurt SEO either.

    In the article you use ‘domains’ and ‘web sites’ interchangeably and confused me a little. I get the duplicate content issue and could not agree more. But what if my client wanted to put up a single page inside a site and point a domain at that page for advertising purposes – so when an actual human types in the URL it will go to that page – not trying to get search engine rankings with it. Would this hurt SEO?

    Something we have done for some clients is use a second domain to build a single squeeze page site to promote a particular product or service. Usually these pages are sent out through Email and snail mail promotions. They might show up in searches but that is not necessarily the goal. We have not found that this hurt SEO of the company’s main site. Does this sound correct or am I missing something here?

    Any further input you can give would be great.

    Alfelt

    • Scott Smoot says

      Alfelt, it sounds like you’re right on track. Using vanity URLs like what you describe is completely fine and won’t hurt anything as long as 301 redirects are being used.

      And yes, using 301 redirects will prevent the redirected domain from showing up in results.

  11. Sarah says

    I am also not a great fan of having multiple domain name. I would like to take one domain and then work hard to optimize it

  12. Karn says

    Hi Scott,

    I loved the post. Country specific domains is something I really want to test out. For some reason it took me a long time to get my head around how target to different locations. It really is not that hard.

    Another cool tip is to make sure you add the backslash at the end of your backlink url.

    So your backlinking efforts are not spread across multiple domain urls. For example “seo.com/” rather than “seo.com”.

    Thanks again, SEO.com is full of awesome content.

  13. Christina says

    nice article…and what Scott said, it is true that no matter how much article about the negative effect having multiple domains on SEO people read on the web, people don’t stop trying. Either way, this is very informative.

  14. William says

    I agree with the Scott. It seems like two sites is a duplication of effort when it would make more sense to focus your efforts in one direction on one site. You also have to be concerned with how any duplicate content will be interpreted by the various search engines. In an effort to combat SPAM, duplicate content is viewed suspiciously. Why not just optimize different pages of your site for different keywords instead of setting up a totally new site. I guess the goal is to be 1 and 2 on the search results but more than likely the divided approach will cause neither to make the first page results – IMO

  15. Shawn says

    Content written here is very informative. Search engine always hates duplicate contents either its redirected or not. It is very bad from SEO point of view.

  16. Dave Jenkins says

    I know several people and businesses that have tried this, and like Scott said, when they realise that they can’t use the same content, it finally dawns on them how much effort is involved in maintaining the multiple sites. This time and money could be far better spent.

  17. William says

    Scott, good point about the top level domains.

    I always advise clients to get a TLD that relates to their country, especially if they are a small business and doing all of their business in that country. E.g. if they are a UK based restaurant, and only cater locally, they are better off going with a .co.uk domain.If they already have a .com, then I advise them to have their website hosted on UK servers (even if they have a .co.uk domain) and update their webmaster tools account for UK.

  18. Gary says

    Yes, a main concern would be the tendency to have duplicate content and of course Google is death on duplicate content and does penalize sites accordingly. I agree that the idea seems to be to dominate the first page results of the major search engines; but that would be really hard to do and I’m not sure at the end of the day that that would improve your ROI all that much, for all the extra work of having to create so much more content for all the various domains. Also, you shouldn’t have to find out about the extra domains on your own…the company in question should tell you up front what has gone on in the past with their web presence which will create better synergy between you the SEO & the company you are representing.

    • Scott Smoot says

      Thanks for the comment. If only clients would be more upfront about telling us about the domains! Sometimes, though, the client just doesn’t any better. I really can’t expect every business to know that having multiple domain can be a problem (which is partly why this post was written). Hopefully this will educate some business owners out there to improve that communication.

  19. Nick says

    Interesting topic indeed!

    In regards of multiple languages i have the same experience but it also goes for product groups. My subdomains are far better of than my topdomains with sub groups. My top domain seems to be considered as jack of all trade…

    I have other languages than english ranking top using .com as TLD. What I can see is that the sublanguages get less credit than the official start page, even though english is one of the subpages.

    To get additional TLD was a good idea, that I will reconsider. Would it work just to do a re-direct to each language section? Would it be concidered as the main index page?

    In any case its strange Google force us to do this when they expressly recommend us to keep all our companies webpages under one domain…

    • Scott Smoot says

      Niclas, it would not work to redirect a country specific TLD to a language page. You would want your visitors to be redirected to the country specific domain as the page you redirect to will appear in the search results.

  20. CK says

    Scott,

    What’s your take on the situation when you want to use separate domain for market segmentation? For example, a business consultancy may have various products services that are vastly different from each other. It’s all branded under the same name & brand, but the audience is different & the internal workflow/logistics of customer service & service deliver is different (eg, biz consultancy, events & training, advertising & marketing). Is this a case of having 2 or 3 different websites, each one serving the needs of each division/department? If so, would you implement it using different domains or using sub-domains (from a SEO perspective)?

  21. Scott Smoot says

    In all honesty, it would probably depend on the industry and company. However, I would probably still argue keeping the domains to just one. The reason is really the same, that is, having two sites doubles the work you have to do.

    Perhaps it helps to think of it this way: If you have one strong domain with a lot of authority and “link juice”, that benefit will pass on to the rest of pages and sections. The more work you do to your main domain, the more the rest of your categories and sub sections of the site will benefit. If a subcategory starts to naturally gain links and attracts some authority, that will also benefit the main domain and other sections. This is all assuming that proper internal linking is taking place.

    If they were all on separate domains, the best you could hope for is just a few good links from each domain and you have less chance of getting that association.

    However, it’s understandable that politics would prevent keeping to one domian, in which case, it’s highly recommended to link freely amongst the several domains. I would also try to keep to sub-domains as opposed to completely different domains.

  22. Nicole says

    So what about domain forwarding? If you have multiple domain names because you don’t want your competition to buy names similar to yours… (which is how several web hosts market you.) How does having them all forward to the same website effect your SEO?

    • Scott Smoot says

      As mentioned above, it does nothing for your SEO, as long as those domains are being 301 redirected. It doesn’t hurt or help your rankings. It only gives one less option for competitors.

      • Alex says

        Hi Scott…. Doesn’t it help if the user searches with the words of one of the multiple domains?

        For example, lets assume that my main web site, where all other sites redirect to is ‘myshop.com’.

        If I have the following multiple domains:
        buydvd.com,buymusiccd.com and the user googles ‘buy dvd’ wouldn’t ‘buydvd.com’ appear in the top results?

        This would help me, because if the user then clicks on ‘buydvd.com’, it will redirect to my website(‘myshop.com’).

        Thank you very much for your help.

  23. Paul P. says

    The problem of multiple domain is the organization and the correct management. Multiple domain which duplicate content, redirect 301 to the one domain is a practice whith more problem and if managed badly can carry to destructive result

  24. Felix says

    Hey Scott,

    Great article. But I have one question that I am still finding trouble getting a direct answer. I have an electrical contracting company and am happy with our seo progress. Now, I’d like to delve into general contracting (which we are also licensed for) but I don’t want to discount my previous and ongoing seo efforts for my electrical site, which is the main bread/butter. So for example my site is branovercontractors.com (its all electrical) Is it ok if I buy lets say branoverconstruction.com with obviously slightly different content (focus on general contractor stuff), but same have the same phone number and branover in it? I’ve been trying so hard to get a quality answer. Your opinion is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Scott says

      First, you may want to talk with an SEO professional directly on this question. I have an opinion on what you aught to do, but it’s based on the limited information you have here in your comment.

      If you are looking to expand services and offer something completely different you what you have been offering, it may make sense to create a new website. Just keep in mind, it will require additional SEO effort and spend, and you will be starting from scratch which makes rankings more difficult to obtain. If you can use your existing site as a starting point, and can put the new practice there, you might have better success. Again, you might have to talk with someone about how to best handle that.

      As for your address and phone number, you shouldn’t have any problems with posting them on both sites, as long as the rest of the content on the page is clearly unique and different from your original site. You’ll only run into problems when you try to create more than one Google Places listing.

      • Andy says

        Scott,
        In the LAEC’s situation, would it be at all beneficial to introduce the new offering (construction) via new pages on the original branovercontractors.com domain, taking advantage of that domain’s current SERP, and then when those pages had built up some ‘traction’ of their own, transfer the content from those pages to the new domain (branoverconstruction.com), add throw up some 301s?

        sorry for the run on.

  25. Sav says

    while all you’re writing is true, here’s a counter-question: would you put all your money in a single stock when investing?
    there many ways a domain may be at a disadvantage (or even banned by google) and having several domains with unique content could help diversify in the internet market.
    sure, the costs are higher but the same applies to diversifying your stock market portfolio as well. no rational investor would put all eggs in one basket…..

    • Scott says

      I would argue that Stocks and Websites are not equal. A stock will grow or crash regardless of what you do with it once you own it. A website and business will succeed only if you put your heart and soul into the effort (or get really, really lucky).
      So, I again argue that having multiple sites will increase your workload significantly, or spread your workload too thinly.
      Now if you have unlimited resources (aka money) then go right ahead. It’s just not a recommended practice to spread yourself to thinly with websites.

  26. Harleena Singh says

    You’ve cleared many doubts on this issue. Great in-depth information. I must confess I fell for the trap, and bought a similar-wording domain to my main domain. Now after reading your post, I realize the pros and cons, and I think I need to sit and think what to do with it. Thanks a lot, Scott.

  27. Joe says

    I agree with Sav.

    I’ve seen too many webmasters get burned badly by the big G. Lose 90% of your domain’s traffic overnight, with no idea what you did wrong / what algorithm change caused it.

    Thanks for the tip, but I’ll hedge my bets for now. Risk management. Worst case = i change my mind in 10 years & get to sell a bunch of aged domains. ;-)

    • Scott says

      Nothing wrong with this tactic, just keep in mind you’re adding a lot to your workload. It might work out for you, but you’ll have lots of small websites and businesses as opposed to one potentially big, money making site.

      Just a counter-thought to consider.

  28. Angel says

    Online shoppers are now getting wiser everyday. If they will see different domains on the first page then will see their content with the same message or duplicate, they will get easily annoyed. Therefore, it is better to just build one with lots of unique and informative information. In my opinion, this will increase the chance of visitors to keep coming to your site and bookmarking it.

  29. WASP says

    What about Microsoft Officelive which allows you to have multiple domains automatically added and they all work with your site automatically?

  30. Nancy says

    I have a question. :) What if a site is called “www.george.com” but George owns a landscaping business. If George has already established himself as “george.com” with business cards and marketing, signs etc… Wouldn’t it make sense for him to purchase “www.georgelandscaping.com” so that he has the word landscaping in his address?

    I hope my question makes sense! I loved your article, so useful and articulate!

    • says

      Nancy, nothing wrong, at all, with changing your domain. You’re talking about losing a generic domain for a more keyword centric domain, which is great! This post was meant to detract people from buying multiple domains with the belief that it would increase their rankings. When you switch domains, you absolutely need to keep the old one and make sure that a 301 redirect is being used.

      • Martin says

        Sorry if I am beating up the 301 redirect subject.  
        I have two domains, one is 3 years old, and the other is 4 years old.  The 3 year old is the main site, while the 4 year old domain does a 301 to the main site.  The 4 year old domain was never developed into a website.    
        I read online that a domain's age is one of the factors in search engine ranking.  Is it your position that the 4 year domain name with 301 to the main site has no searching engine ranking benefit? 
        Lastly, my business has a .com domain, but we also sell in Mexico. Is there any benefit to getting our business name in .com.mx and doing a 301 redirect?  I'm wondering whether this will help with Mexico search engine search?   Or is it better to develop a new site for the .com.mx domain?  

  31. Saidy says

    You have waken me up from my ‘illusion’ of the merit and benefit of having more-than-one domains. I, at least, have had two domains for a single business. Now I realize that it is not efficient… and not effective.
    Thanks for the post

  32. David says

    Hi,

    I have a client who has a product that they want to sell in Australia, New Zealand, The UK.
    They want to use tld names for each country ie. example.co.nz, example.co.uk, example.com.au, example.com
    The index and contact pages of each site will be slightly different but the rest of the content will be the same.
    Will they be penalised for this?
    I am guessing no because numerous large corporation must do this.

    Thanks

    David

    • Simon says

      Hey – sorry I’m bait late to the party, but I’m looking to launch an Australian web based service in NZ, and possibly the UK, so this is really relevant, and one of the few places I’ve information that is actually helpful.

      I guess my question is simply do you duplicate the content for each top level domain fully, effectively creating multiple stand alone sites for each market, or do you have only the sales pages separated with the “application” pages centralized (and possibly 301 redirected)?

      Any and all advice appreciated – thanks.

  33. Ernest says

    A couple of times in the past I have tried to build “sub” websites for niche products of our wilderness resort here in Canada. Each time I ended up with a revamped and better version of my original website because, although a niche product such as wildlife viewing seems to be separate from catch and release fishing, the actuality is that they both happen at our same resort which means the bulk of the content remains the same and the different activities actually support each other.
    Reading this article I understand and am happy the secondary websites never worked out, although the efforts did work for me in revamping and improving my website. Thanks for sharing great information.

  34. Larry says

    Wow. Great list! I have used a lot of them before, but it is nice to have them all in one place. I really should go .

  35. Koen says

    I have a slightly different example which give me doubts.
    For my upcoming business im thinking about purchasing a domain with several keywords included representing my business (for example: Jameshousesandappartments.com) As this domain name should be good in SEO point of view, offline marketing (example on tv radio or newspaper) such a long domainname is more difficult.
    My id is to purchase a shorter domain (James.com) for offline marketing and redirect this domain to my main domain. (Jameshousesandappartments.com)

    Good id? or any potential pitfalls?

    Thanks in advance, Koen

  36. Joe says

    Hi Scott
    Great Post!
    I’m running 2 country specific domains for the same website. (The domains are slightly different, not just a .com/.co.uk switch)
    The content is the same apart from the product listings & prices, which is different depending upon what country you’re in.
    Both domains are targeted to different countries in google webmaster tools.
    D’you think Google would consider this tactic duplicate content and harm both website’s position in the SERPS?

    Thanks again
    Joe

  37. Chris says

    All of this is great info and I was hoping that you (or someone else) can answer a specific question for me.

    I own an e-commerce site (DrapeStyle – dotcom) where I sell custom silk drapes, linen drapes, etc. When I started the site I purchased a bunch of specific domains that I was hoping to be able to use one day. I purchased names like linendrapes.com, customsilkdrapes.com, etc.

    When I use the Google Keyword Tool I find that, as an example, there are 12,000 monthly searches for “linen drapes”. Is there any way to leverage the domain “linendrapes.com” to capture some of these search queries and direct them to my primary site? Possibly create a blog or something?

    One other thing, I own about 50 of these domains.

    Thanks very much.

  38. Vijay Bhabhor says

    Hi Scott,

    First up all I like to thanks all the expert for sharing your views.

    SEO is outstanding every techniques are different, It is important that how we will react it.

    And I am agree with scott that if we want to use the same domains then we must have to make unique content, need to target other countries to get good rank as well as need to host the site in targeted countries.

  39. William Paul says

    Hello Scott, we close to going live with my mortgage related site and are questioning the domain or domains to use. Concern I have is it will be difficult to become relevant in the mortgage related search fields and not likely going to show up without throwing a bunch of cash it to rank higher! So SEO feels irrelevant at this time exept perhaps within our company group! I happened to purchase the company.com name which is _____mortgage.com as well as myname.com/ca (both) and should mention the web-designed/media company likes yet one last domain I own mortgagestoday.ca which she thinks she would like to promote cause its got a nice ring to it she feels! Should mention the company owns domain _____mortgage.ca and plan to have a site eventually but not as of yet!
    First question…Any issue using the ______mortgage.com name if I like?
    My last question then is…what are you feelings on using these three domains using a 301 redirect, be it each page, or home page does it matter?

  40. Richard says

    I'm going to come in from the other side of the fence.  I do have multiple domains for one of our company's products and it does work for us in the SERPS.  However, the domains have been designed to work on a very broad spectrum services sector and have to cover a large number of keyword combinations.  It's for this reason that I have arranged the domains and associated TLDs so that they have a decreasing number of in-bound links, depending upon competition and that those links are very keyword specific.  The aim is to prevent having more than one domain show up in search results at any one time. but at the same time to cover such a broad spectrum of keyword results that if they were all on the same site, we'd be struggling.  It has also proven great help with variations in search engine algorithms between Bing and Google, which means we have top 3 rankings on both engines, whereby the less important site has a greater weighting of keywords than the other.  However, I'm careful to focus most of my energy on our main flagship site (the less 'keyword rich') and let the others bumble along, picking up a little traffic here and there (so as to avoid any form of Brand confusion).  
    However, this is not for the feint hearted and I've been extremely careful to avoid any form of spam generation.  As a result, I've got 3 Authority domains that stick in the top 3 rankings of the 3 main Search Engines and have done so for the past 3 years- at present for some 2,500 keyword combinations.  
    I would advise the following though:  
    1) Matt Cutts has made it perfectly clear that there is no Duplicate Content Penalty in Google Serps.   
    2) Only your primary domain should be your main goal, a second or third domain will come in a very very distant second and third respecitvely.
    3) My primary domain ranks for the most competitive keyword combinations, preventing any conflict of interest- thereby it gets 80-90% of total traffic- other domains are somewhere on page 6-7 of respective Engines for these keywords.
    4) All domains are on completely different class C IP's.
    5) All domains link back to the primary domain- this is designed to prevent them theoretically ' overtaking the primary domain'.
    I have to admit throughout all this, I am extremely paranoid and although I'm fully aware that there is no duplicate content penalty, I hate creating spem anyway, so have ensured that each and every site is completely different to the last.  I realise that it's extremely hard work to achieve, but if you want to get anywhere in life, there's no easy way to do it.

  41. Ron Miller says

    What about building up seperate websites with separate content?  Is that a bad idea?  If you can get more than one pages in in the top 10, isn't that a good thing?

  42. Reece Cropley says

    I have a client that I have recently taken on that owns 20+ domain urls and wishes to use each one as a different county for the UK. Using PHP certain areas of the site will change (phone numbers, title names etc etc) but fundamentally the rest of the site will stay the same.
    As there is going to be one TLD would it be better to use the rest as add on domains and then point the to sub directories on the main server.

  43. Chad says

    I had 3 domains, two of them were going right to the content of the main website. After this article I created 301 redirects, which do the same thing, but now the site isn’t viewing the links of the other domain.
    Thanks!  I also am using this is a paper I am writting about my marketing plan. :)  
    Chad

  44. Tamera says

    Hi Scott, 
    Really interesting article. I really appreciate the quality of the information provided by everybody here. I've been searching google for a while now and this is the most helpfull info so far.
    I wanted to see what's your opinion on the following issue. Centralparktours.net is my main domain it's been up for 3-4 years and it has a good pr. If I decide to purchase centralparktours.com and .org, both never had any content on them, but have been registered 9 years ago, do you think I can do something to improve my SEO and visibility? The fact that they are old should definitely bring some benefit, right? I wouldn't do a 301 on the .net because I might loose some link juice. 
    What would you reccomend ?
     
    Thanks!
     

  45. Hoang Long says

    I planned to buy many domain for my site but after reading this post, I think it's no longer necessary to do so, just one is enough.
    Thank you very much for the tip and useful post.
    Hoang Long

  46. Joshua says

    Have read through the information above but do have another question.  Let's say I own a car dealership called Joshua's AutoStore (assume the domain is joshuaautostore.com) and we sell Ford and Chevy cars in the city of Charleston.  Does it make sense to also buy fordcharleston.com and chevycharleston.com so that we could pick up additional traffic if someone enters "Chevy Charleston" or "Ford Charleston" into a google search?  Assuming that it does make sense, I'm guessing that a 301 redirect should be done from both of those to my main site of joshuaautostore.com, correct?  Thanks-

  47. mike says

    Hey guys,
    What about if someone wanted to use seo for reputation managment to push down negative content. As most companies have negative content because you can't please everyone. I think mutliple domains would be good for that right?  Is it better to use social networking sites or other social sites as digg.  Also it is different to protect a name or an individual company. 
     
    mike
     

  48. Greg Gillespie says

    Thank you Scott, you just my task of convincing some clients that this is a dumb idea even easier. Focus and persistence pays off but not if you have to do this for 12 domains instead of just one.
    After all, you can only get them to come to one website, and in fact just one page, it's the one that ranks at the top of Google.

  49. Heidi says

    Super interesting article.  I have ONE product I sell (Headband Holders).  It is a patented product that is brand new to the market, and we have had huge success in the past year on our website orders (going from zero to hundreds sold per month in less than a year) with no advertisement… only SEO. 
    Recently I have purchased several domain names related to this (headbandholder.com is "manin" domain name and has been at the top of Google for months).  We also bought headbandholder.tv, headbandholder.mobi, and several others…  I have not yet done anything with these sites; and I am wondering if a 301 redirect is wise (I was just going to do that originally) or now perhaps just "sit" on them!
     

  50. Heidi says

    Also… for International domains (co.uk, co.au, co.nz)  I own these too; and am getting ready to do more International.  Do I need to create brand new sites / content for each of these in order to get ranked in country (as opposed to some sort of redirect?)  The content would be identical; and I am looking to minimize the work.  If I can redirect these and get ranked, that would be excellent.  I have not been able to figure out if this is the case.  Thanks for any advice.

    • Ale says

      I think I read it somewhere up there when they were asking about international domains and they were asking that if they could just redirect to the main site ( a dot.com)in order to save all the double work . He answered that the site to which they were redirected would end up getting the top rank instead of the local one– or that is how I interpreted the information. So if I’m advertising in Colombia, but I redirect them to Spain then, the Spanish site would get the top rank in the Colombian Google because that is the site where people are spening most of their time clicking.

      I hope he says that no that is not how it works because it sounds like a lot of work to do it several times…but if it must be done…

      • Ale says

        It is probably better to do it all over again per country because languages are different per country even if they supposedly speak the same language.

  51. John says

    I am on the same boat as Joe, I have a landing page that has a link to the main page and I want to put the same landing page on several different domains. Would that hurt me? I was going to make different descriptions and keywords for each but leave the page the same

  52. Matt Janowski says

    Scott,
    Was wondering if you could clarify sometinhg for me. I have a main domain from which I have created a subdomain on. I’m terrrified of having duplicate content. The subdomain(s) I’m creating are for my consultants. These consist of one page that basically carries the same ‘brand’ as the main site. The only duplicate information is in the ‘widgets’. And even then the links within those ‘widgets’ is different on every subdomain as it pertains to my consultants. Every consultant basically would be blogging on their own subdomain. Is this considered duplicate content and do you think it will hurt my rankings? Also, is it even possible that after only creating this subdomain yesterday, it could already affect my main domain? I’m paranoid and it seems like my main domain has lost ranking (or completely disappeared from Bing and I think Yahoo. Google remained the same. Thanks in advance!

  53. Ken says

    Hey sorry in the above example. did not mean for it to link to a real site. If you could replace that with below I think it would be better.

    But what if you have say three sites (named similar) and at two of the sites you have a link to the main site. Example(not real sites that have this problem)
    main site TheBigManxyz.com
    alt site BigManxyz.com contains the text/link Please visit thebigmanxyz.com
    alt site2 HugeManxyz.com contains the text/link Please visit thebigmanxyz.com

    thanks for any thoughts

  54. William E. says

    Just wanna share, that I had many old sites that are not active, so I tried something new, pointing some 15 unused domains to a single new site using 301 redirect. I will post here once I find if this tactic worked or not.

  55. Frank R. says

    Hi, i am trying to make SEO to a site that have multiple domains and duplicate content to some other domains. The problem is that i was ok for 10 keywords (in top 10) and sudently they dissapear! The problem is the duplicate content, what cause this trouble?

  56. Greg Smith says

    Do you guys think that the owners of link networks, own only o ne domain? Do you see the benefit in owning 800 PR9 sites? Good, point made!

  57. Mike J. says

    Our normal business is travel. At different times of the year we do contract charters with a partner. While it is fine to promote the charters on our site, our site is not a good url for adwords advertising.

    Would it make sense to have unique sites set up just for these promotions that could have much more effective urls that people would be more likely to click on through adwords?

    • Greg says

      Lost in Vancouver,

      The more specific the URL is the better it will convert. The other thing about doing separate sites, (url included) is you can have fully customized content, which not only will you get the click, it will lead to higher sales conversions.

      Another benefit of this approach is your SEO for each of these dedicated sites is going to be a natural pickup as well. It does however multiple your SEO firepower requirements.

  58. Justine says

    I can think of a legitimate and – perhaps- important reason to buy up multiple domains: trademark and copyright protections. If you intend to own a trademarked or copyrighted property, you need to take affirmative steps to protect it. If you buy up the “.biz”, “.org”, “.info”, “.net” … etc extensions of your domain name and redirect them, then you are building solid proof that you intend to own your business name, as well as establishing a date when you began to take affirmative action to protect said name. If companies like Coca-cola don’t buy up the varied extensions of http://www.coca-cola.com, they may have weakened their position that they intend to protect the name.

  59. Trevor Prescott says

    Say you got hold of 5 keyword phrases that were 100% matching for what you wanted, you hosted them on different servers to your own, each domain has new server, linked the keywords/phrase back to your main site.

    So, in reality a complete stranger is recommending your website, this can no way affect your rankings surely otherwise you can bring your competition down? It must help you.

  60. John says

    Lets say i have a website company called newrealty.com

    Wouldnt it help me get more business not for ranking purposes to buy domains with relative keywords to help me rank and getdeals.

    As in:

    Los angeles real estate company.com

    Or

    North hollywood real estate company .com

    What do you guys say about that

  61. James says

    I think the problem is most people want to have quick wins and they think the more domains they have the better and easier it will be to rank – Content is king and writing interesting unique content that ranks is not the easiest thing in the world – Having to rewrite that a few times for multiple sites for each page, will be a wasted effort – and you will see no quick wins!

    Focussing on making your main domain SEO friendly, informative, user friendly, should be your number one priority.

  62. Lisa G. says

    What do you suggest when a client has a sub-project within a larger offering and wants a different domain name to direct to one section of their main site? Example: Client A has a company that has just published a book. They don’t want to build a whole new site for the book, they just want to add a robust new section to their site for the book and have a URL for the book that directs to that section. If a user types in clientsnewbook.com and it forwards to clientsmainsite.com/thenewbook – will that be confusing for users?

  63. Mike says

    When the kids grow up and have over 2,000 domains pointing to 100 domains that rank for 100,0000 top paraphrases and is sipping mi-ties on a beach and pulling in $65,000 a month off affiliate sales deposited directly into his account, then come talk to me on how this is bad….. :) There are some VERY misinformed people out there….

  64. Rose says

    Hi I can’t agree more with you on this one. I had a client who, once they had understood the concept of keywords and exact match domains wanted to buy up 5 domains all at once and rank them all. Doesn’t look good thanks for the clear advice

  65. Adam says

    Excellent article. I have just located many domains pointed at my main site. Duplicated content is a real issue, and i do think as time goes on google will be more strict

  66. phil says

    Hi i currently have a client who i have advised to change his domain name to a more relevant keyword related one and have the old domain name redirect to the old site with the new domain name if it is done with a 301 redirect that should be ok in the eyes of google?

  67. Jennifer Rowan says

    As per my my experience multiple domains is still good idea if you want to dominant in search engine. 

  68. Laura says

    Hi, I’ve just  noticed I’ve that mistake, well i wanted two domains, but one for doing one thing, and another one to do something different and unrelated. But just when i went to edit it is when I’ve noticed that I’ve got exactly the same content, and it’s like a nightmare.
    Is there a way I can revert this? e.g. transferring only one domain to another hosting page?

  69. Laura says

    Hi, I’ve just  noticed I’ve that mistake, well i wanted two domains, but one for doing one thing, and another one to do something different and unrelated. But just when i went to edit it is when I’ve noticed that I’ve got exactly the same content, and it’s like a nightmare.
    Is there a way I can revert this? e.g. transferring only one domain to another hosting page?
    I really hope you could help me. I thought it was easier to handle two different web pages from the same place and with the same log-in, but I don’t know anything about domains, and I think I must have confused it with web-site :( 

    • Ilya says

      Michael.  Please share your experience.  I am interested to know what you have done with multiple domains, intentionally or un-intentionally, and the result.  I have read the article, but I am not convinced since I have seen implementations that worked, and I am asking my SEO team to work on it.  Let mew know, privately of you prefer ilya at wisetrend dot com.  Thanks.

  70. Jeff says

    Hi, we recently decided to start business in another country and have purchased the appropriate domain name, however the products will be the same on both domains but is .com.au and another is .co.uk is this a problem?

  71. Chris Fuelling says

    I have a competitor that has numerous well ranking sites that offer the same exact product, which affects my organic rankings! I want to report them to google. Should i do that? Can i do that? will it even matter?

  72. John says

    I’m a Uk web designer and a customer wants the same website (brochure website of products for wholesale market) to be found in the UK and in South Africa – under these circumstances, would it be a good idea to have a .co.za domain pointing to the .co.uk domain ( or vice-versa) so that we only have one website with one set of maintenance and one set of backlinks? Would this acutually help with the local serps? Would appreciate any advice if you have experience with this.

  73. Nick Coleman says

    I understand what you say about multiple domains with similar offerings, but our bricks and mortar business has different areas – office supplies, art materials, gift pens etc. Should we have multiple domains with specialist content reflecting the different business areas we are in? Or should we have one site reflecting all our business areas?

  74. Anita says

    Hi! Thank you for sharing for expertise.
    I recently joined a non-profit and currently we have tons of aliases that don’t redirect to one single site. And the ranking and web traffic has been decreasing. What should I do now? What are some long term solution? Simply a 301 to all the aliases will do? 
    Thank you!
    Anita  

     

  75. Zack says

    I have a question which is very important for me, and help from all experts.
    i have a .net domain from few years, and i set its Geographic target to a country pakistan in google webmaster. now I need and get another .co.uk domain to attract my uk visitor. but the problem is, i have the same content of website which is in joomla, and i wish to use same website data and contents so I don’t need to change/update on both sites.
    But I dont wanna lose my seo performance. what would be the best solution ?

  76. Rahul says

    Great post, i liked this post. Yes, it is true that multiple domain is affecting website ranking in Search engine, so we need to learn, how to deal with these kind of situation. Keep your ranking in search engines resolving multiple domain names.

  77. Greg says

    @Zack, to answer your question, you have to remember that Google penalises duplicate content, so the idea of trying to use the same content on two different domains .net and .co.uk is not a good one.

    Better would be to rewrite the content so that it is still the same meaning but is original.

    Hope this helps, oh and also you will have to double up your seo efforts as now you have two target websites to rank well. ; )

  78. Samantha says

    I can say that this duplicate content is bunk. I have a customer that decided to add 7 domains having to do with one service that he provides. All we did with these sites was capture the RSS feed from his main site. No other seo was done to this site and he still has multiple sites coming up on page 1 and this is over a year later.

  79. Jim Turner says

    Scott,

    I just read your article.   I have two domains that have the same content.   I want to follow your advice, so, what do I do with the secondary domain?   Should I have it point to my main domain?

    Jim Turner
    Orlando, FL 32801
           

  80. RJ says

    I have a subdomains in which I host live blogs. They push out content all the time and get indexed by google. Recently I’ve noticed a huge increase in traffic and noticed that my live blogs (which run continueosly) are getting indexed. Problem is, Google will index “live blog#1″ and “live blog#2″ on the same page under certain keywords.

    I then did a 301 redirect from my live blog to my main domain and noticed an increase in positioning on searches. I also noticed that my “live blog#1″ or “live blog#2″ were no longer showing up on keywords searches and it was now being replaced by my main domain.

    After a few weeks I noticed a slight decrease in posiitoning and I decided to undo the redirect and lost positioning even more. Can anybody tell me whats going on?  

  81. Lee says

    Good Read! I have recently started getting into seo and I was unaware that this was not good for seo ( I bought 3 domains) that were all the same and pointed to my main roof cleaning site.. My SEO guy told me to read this article, so now ill just be parking these other 2 sites until I can afford to create them as individual sites . At that point hopefully I can then do it up right and get 3 sites on the first page!

  82. Jaws says

    Great article. One simple question that I cant read from the posts here. We own more than 70 country specific TLDs for our trademark and dont know if we would gain advantage of using them or not. As far as I can read from your article you do recommend country specific TLDs, using 301-redirects, however what I cant read is if they should point to similar language version of the site and the domain refers to? Or is it OK to point to same main website language all of them – in our case english in our main language?

  83. Kat says

    Hi, I have a question for ya.
    So I have one main website but have purchased multiple domains that point to my one main site. Should I include these domain names in my meta keywords? Will this help or hurt my SEO. Thank you in advance. Kat

  84. Bert Louthian says

    “I consider this to be one short step away from spam.” Agree. Spam is irritating in any form. Why put potential clients off from the get-go?

  85. Price Benowitz says

    Duplicate content is annoying. Duplicate content is time-wasting. Duplicate content is irritating. Duplicate content is aggravating. So is content which purports to be original but isn’t.

  86. Mukesh Chaurasia says

    I have registered more than 100 domain using keywords related to our business.

    Should we make simple one page website for all other domain and redirect to my main website?

    Or Just simply 301 redirect to all domain to my main website. Is this Going to help me in SEO in any ways?

    Or any other option which can help me in SEO.

    Thank you very much for your help.

  87. Kristin Duncan says

    What about for a photographer? I want to have separate sites for my weddings and portraits, but I don’t want to double the SEO, as you said with two separate domains. I was considering using weddings.afsphotography.ca and family.afsphotography.ca but is there any point to doing so?

  88. says

    I am targeting two countries for my website. Is there no way that I can have a landing page within my website directed at the second country and tell google somehow that this particularly landing page is meant to rank in the second country?

  89. says

    I would appreciate any comments on the following scenario:

    Client has a single, desirable domain name for the target industry. Client notices that search ranking is getting replaced by companies with similar name, but Geo-specific, where the competitor puts the name of the *city* in the domain name. Presumably search engines pick up on this, and give them a higher rank.

    Client then goes and buys another domain name that has the geo name included, in hopes of trumping the competitor. This results in 4 duplicated websites which can be summed up as: Google has further reduced the original branding. The newer domain names are coming up high on searches, but not the “primary target search keywords”. Bing, more or less acknowledges the geo specific sites as higher ranking. However, the traffic generated is overall not as good as it was on the single original website.

    Question:

    What do you do with this situation? What is the best way to shut down the alternate domains and focus on, what appears everyone is agreement with, improving on the single original site? Do you shudder the secondary domains? Or, keep a geo specific domain? Do you keep all them, but redirect to the primary website?

    Any help would be most appreciated!

  90. says

    If you have a .com and and want to keep people from getting the .net .org .biz and all the extensions you could buy them all and just park them, over the course of a year they may pay for itself. Parking a domain is where you only place adds on the site and earn money from clicks. Lots of sites will do it for you.

  91. says

    OK, I have .com domain and I want to buy ccTLD for my country.. Can I part my new country specific domain under .com that is already has PR 3. Will I make something bad if I have .rs parked under .com. I bought another domain because it cintains key word for my business, my first domain is name of my company and does not contain key word for products I am selling online. Thanks for answer!

  92. says

    I’d like to ask for clarification on a point raised here.

    I have a client that has a ‘main website’.
    He has chosen to register various domains relating to his business.

    1) He has some of these domain names pointing to his main website, there is no content on these sites, just simply point to his main website.
    Does this hurt SEO or will this be ok? (Should he be using any kind of 301 Redirect)

    2) He has chosen to set up two or three of these domains as fully fledged websites with ‘selected’ products from his range, to make customer selection on a targeted product range easier for the user, without crowding them out with ‘choice’
    Would it hurt to have links from these sites to his main site ?

    I have read conflicting information on the first point

    Many thanks

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