SEO for One Website vs. Multiple

A question I often get asked is from companies who think they need multiple websites as opposed to one for branding and SEO effectiveness. One site. That’s the answer. Plain and simple. Let me tell you why – Google likes a mansion rather than a shack. Why do you think Wikipedia comes up when you search most general topics in Google? It’s because Wikipedia is a gargantuan storehouse of content. Same thing with Or if you’re searching for local stores or restaurants – Yelp and GoogleMyBusiness (Google Maps) come up – because they are massive directories of local store listings. Let me promise you that Wikipedia would not rank or come up as well or as often in your searches if every major Wikipedia content topic were on a separate website and different primary domain. If you think great keywords in separate primary domains for websites will compensate for SEO, let me promise you, no, it’s still better to have one primary – especially if you have owned your domain and had a website there for at least 3 years!

By the way, this doesn’t mean that big companies and their huge websites will beat small business every time – strategic SEO long-tail, or niche, keywords and content will come up for a small website that is created that way for search effects. But the more content on that website, the more it is helped for Google, with more pages to come up in search results and more keywords and content to be served to web users.

Other issues are content and linking strategies. When one company has multiple websites, there are difficulties strategically mapping the links between the sites, the business location claims, and even content duplication – all of these issues can hurt your rankings. It requires extra planning and implementation to nullify these errors and penalties.

So those are my SEO arguments. If you research SEO blog posts, you’ll see these and additional ones. But what about multiple websites for branding issues? For starters let’s go back to the Wikipedia argument. Let’s say it was all broken down by topics. As a web user, would you know to go to animalpedia every time you had a query about animals, paintpedia each time you were painting your house, and insectopedia every time you had a mysterious bug bite? How many of those “pedias” become too many to remember?

However, there is great SEO strategy based on niche. Based on you carving your piece of brand business pie, based on a niche that isn’t being served, and/or which customers associate your business with. Likewise with specific-location-radius service.

Here’s a way to look at this: In SEO, we can target multiple niche services/keywords across the same site for good results. And the more overall content on your site, the better overall for search results. And if you’ve spent years building a solid brand in a category, are there any negative reasons why you can’t spread that brand to another category? In most cases, transferring a good brand to another category is better in public perception than starting from ground zero. But that’s the question to ask.

Otherwise, from an SEO perspective, if you truly have a website split down the middle, with seemingly conflicting content, such as a company which sells radiators as well as suntan lotion, then maybe two websites is best. But in most cases, one brand and website is the smartest way to go. Even if that means microsites on the current primary domain, and alternative domains as redirects to those microsites.

Thanks for reading,
Jake Aull,
Zen Fires Search Engine Marketing