Is it wise for your business to register multiple URLs or domains? Many companies have widened their nets and attracted more search engine traffic by buying two—or even three or four—web addresses.
The idea is that one great keyword combination isn’t as good as two. You’ll draw more potential customers by being “handymanNewYork.com” as well as “BigApplefixitguy.com.” But is that really true? Will you attract more visitors to your site by doubling your URL chances – or cripple your score with the major search engines? The answer is complicated and depends on a number of factors.
As a rule, SEO experts caution that a second URL probably won’t have much of a positive impact on your traffic – and, if handled poorly, could actually have a deleterious effect.
When is a second domain useful?
Domain forwarding – when one URL is set up to automatically redirect to the other – is ignored by most search engines. That means if your actual site is located at handymanNewYork.com, but BigApplefixitguy.com redirects to handyman, Google won’t even notice that handymanNewYork exists.
This is a convenient solution if you’re known by an original name but want to re-brand your company, or if you’re known differently in two circles but only need one website. In terms of SEO and marketing, however, it has virtually no impact.
How duplicate domains can actually hurt your business
On the other hand, there are several ways that duplicate domains can be misused, resulting in penalization by search engines.
If you buy two domains and don’t redirect them, but use identical content on both, Google will lower your ranking automatically. That’s because duplicate content is assumed to have been stolen, and automatically gets downgraded by Google’s algorithm.
If you choose to create unique content for each site, ideally targeting different keywords or different demographics, your sites won’t be penalized by search engines – but you’ll have to consider the added effort and expense to create and maintain two (or more) sites, which may not be worthwhile unless you have specific customer demographics that you’d like to reach individually.
Another SEO loss: Incoming links
A final disadvantage of multiple sites is in the dispersal of your incoming links, which get counted by search engines as a factor in your website’s ranking. Instead of having dozens of quality links to your site, for instance, you’ll have a few links here and a few there, each directed to different versions of your company’s web presence – a distinction that prevents Google and other search engines from seeing your cumulative online reach and appreciating your widespread relevance.
So, should you several unique URLs? For most companies, it’s simply a lot of hassle and isn’t worth it. And in some cases, having multiple sites can actually hurt your SEO rankings. But in a very few specific cases, it might be a good idea to have multiple sites – just make sure there’s a persuasive reason for it, or it may turn out to be nothing more a waste of your time, money, and search engine power.