SEO For Multiple Domains: A Simple Strategy Guide
What is Multiple Domain SEO?
Multiple domain search engine optimization (SEO) refers to owning different domains targeting the exact keywords. It consists of a main domain for your business and microsites, which serve as extensions of your primary website.
This SEO strategy does not include subdomains (subdomain.domain.com) in its approach. While separate from your primary site, subdomains can’t rank for your domain’s target keywords, as Google will view this as keyword cannibalization.
Expedia is an example of an organization that dominates the travel niche on search results with the domains it owns, like Trivago, Travelocity, Hotels.com, and more. By ranking for these queries on top of search engine results pages (SERPs) as Expedia does with its sites, you cover greater real estate and receive more clicks from users across these sites.
Why Use SEO For Multiple Domains?
Using multiple domains as part of your SEO strategy depends on many factors, but you can’t deny the benefit it can bring your business.
You can increase your brand’s visibility in search results, provided that you have multiple and distinct domains ranking for your money keywords. To achieve this, you must develop and launch an effective SEO campaign, such as creating great content and building authoritative backlinks, across all your sites.
Also, building high-quality microsites related to your main website lets your brand stay at the top of your target audience’s minds. Building more positive associations with your business helps you generate greater brand awareness.
How to Develop and Execute a Multiple Domain SEO Strategy
If the reasons above convince you that a multi-domain strategy is the right approach to take for your business, below are the steps you should follow:
1. Build a Microsite with a Unique Domain Name
Before building a microsite, consider how it will fit into your customer’s journey. What type of people do you want to attract to the new domain, and which stage in your lead generation funnel are they? Also, determine how the new site connects and adds value to your brand name. Lastly, ensure the website addresses a need or want from your customers to validate creating it.
Once ready, buy a domain with a .com top-level domain (TLD) because it’s the most familiar and trustworthy among domain extensions. Come up with a brandable domain name that allows you to expand it if necessary and prevents you from pigeonholing it to a specific sub-niche.
If you’re building a nutritional supplements site for your health brand, avoid having “supplements” in the domain name because it limits your site to only covering this product type. Later on, you may want to write about vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others on the same site, so having an all-encompassing name for your microsite is ideal.
For more experienced SEOs, buy aged domains from sites like GoDaddy Auctions. The available domains here have relatively high domain authority due to having a strong backlink profile. They cost more than a brand-new domain but rank much faster, thanks to their existing authority.
If you have a sizable budget for your multi-site marketing strategy, buy existing websites on Odys Global or Flippa that are relevant to your brand.
The best thing about these sites is that they already generate organic traffic from their keyword rankings. You don’t have to go through most of the steps below, as the site is ready to improve your brand visibility and make money for you. On the flip side, these ready-made sites cost thousands or more depending on their traffic and authority.
Set up your newly purchased domain on a content management system (CMS). This allows you to manage your domain’s files, content, and web design. WordPress is the most common CMS because it’s flexible, offers many customization options, and has extensive online support.
With your chosen CMS, you can begin designing your new website’s brand. Make it look similar to your main site to build familiarity and provide a streamlined user experience. At the same time, use different color palettes to make it look unique and different.
2. Create Unique Content
Although you’re creating similar content for separate domains since you’ll target the same keywords, you should try writing content that makes your microsite stand out.
For new sites, target long-tail keywords to increase their likelihood of appearing on top of SERPs since they don’t have the authority yet to rank for more competitive terms. Use a keyword tool like Ahrefs to determine what keywords to write about on the site. To maximize your content marketing plan, filter the results to help you target high-volume and low-difficulty queries.
Also, consider using different tools to approach your microsite content differently. If you use Surfer SEO to produce content on your main site, try using Frase or Marketmuse to get different keyword insights for writing content that ranks on Google.
For sites with existing content, identify pages that aren’t ranking as high on SERPs or lost traffic over time. You can see these pages on Google Search Console by comparing the clicks from this month to the previous one. Then, re-optimize these pages using your preferred content optimization tool to increase and recover their rankings.
Tip: Link to Microsite From Your Original Site
The link strengthens the association between your microsite and the main site. It also gives your new website an SEO boost, assuming Google’s algorithm loves your site and ranks it on search results for its keywords.
You can place the link on the primary website’s header or footer to make it more visible to visitors and search spiders. For better results, link to a web page from your microsite on your main site that provides value to your visitors. Also, use a specific keyword as its anchor text.
These make your links contextually relevant in the content, thus increasing their effectiveness and helping your microsite rank faster and higher on search engines.
If you purchased an aged domain, consider linking the entire site to your own domain. To do this, set up a sitewide 301 redirect to permanently funnel all visitors of that domain to your main website. This also means that it receives all the domain’s backlinks and authority, resulting in higher keyword rankings and organic traffic over time.
3. Setup Social Media Accounts for Your Microsite
Like SEO, social media is part of your brand’s digital marketing strategy. And while both may seem unrelated, social media helps build a unique identity for your microsite, which is crucial to achieve higher SERP rankings.
Before creating brand new social media profiles, narrow down your profiles to platforms most of your target audience use. If your brand attracts the younger generation, focus on creating TikTok and Instagram accounts.
Optimize your profiles by following the same branding on your microsite. Use your site’s name as the username, upload your logo as the profile pic, write a bio that captures your brand, and link to your site.
Next, you must develop a social media content strategy to build an audience on these platforms. Identify your goal and analyze your competitors to determine the type of content you’ll create. Create useful posts based on your social media calendar so you have something to engage with your audience. Don’t forget to reply to their comments and message other users on their posts.
4. Observe Best SEO Practices to Rank on SERPs
To increase the chances of getting on top of Google search, you must apply on-page SEO on all your web pages. Identify the keyword you want to rank for each page and mention it in its SEO title, URL, and H1. Also, your content must match the keyword intent so you deliver the information users are looking for.
Another on-page SEO factor to worry about is site speed. You want all your pages to load as efficiently as possible. Use PageSpeed Insights to know your site’s scores across different metrics. Its Diagnostics section shows why your site is loading the way it does and suggestions for fixing each.
There’s a chance that search engines can’t crawl your pages due to your site settings. To know for sure, run a technical SEO audit using Ahrefs’ free Webmaster Tools to identify potential issues. Find and address errors the tool picks up to help search engines find and index your pages much more easily.
Finally, develop a link building strategy that focuses on quality to build your microsite’s authority. One of the best ways to build backlinks is guest posting. Identify websites relevant to yours that receive organic traffic and ask if they accept guest posts. Some may agree to publish your post for a price, so prepare for a budget just in case.
Pros and Cons of Multiple Domain SEO
This SEO strategy can benefit your business if you execute it correctly. However, using multiple domains to generate organic traffic for your brand is also not for everyone. Below are its advantages and disadvantages to help you decide if it is right for you.
Pro: Increase Visibility for High-Value Keywords
A benefit of multi-domain SEO is its ability to target sub-niches. If you have a beauty e-commerce site, you can create skincare, haircare, and other microsites that fall under the beauty niche.
This approach makes ranking keywords for specific subcategories in your industry much easier using different sites than a single domain. Even better, your microsites can target relevant keywords your beauty brand site is ranking or trying to rank for. Getting all your websites to appear on the first page of Google enables you to get as many clicks and visitors to your site as you can.
Con: Spread Your Resources Thin
If your organization is cash-strapped or short on personnel, consider skipping multiple-domain SEO for now.
As effective as this strategy is, ranking multiple microsites on search engines simultaneously is very resource-intensive. You don’t want to start buying different domains knowing that you neither have the funds nor the necessary help to execute each site’s SEO campaign to its fullest extent.
Pro: Sell Your Products and Services on Both Sites
Since you’re associating your microsites with your primary website and brand, selling your products and services makes sense. This can multiply your sales and revenue, especially if all your sites generate traffic from their keyword rankings.
Create a landing page for each product on your microsites using their branding. Again, you should have already established a clear relationship between the microsites and your actual brand. And if your visitors pick up on that, your sites shouldn’t have any problem generating sales and increasing your bottom line.
Con: Unique Branding for Your Microsites and Main Site May Confuse Your Audience
The most challenging aspect of multi-domain SEO is walking the tightrope between creating distinct branding for each microsite and making their associations with your brand clear.
You don’t want to use the same design assets from your main site on your other sites. Creating new logos, color themes, and social media accounts for all your sites gives each one an identity and allows it to stand on its own.
At the same time, you don’t want to treat your microsites as separate from your brand but sell the products found on your primary site. Visitors might think the sites sell counterfeit versions of your products, which decreases your chances of converting them into customers.
Two Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Multiple Domain SEO
Aside from its pros and cons, a multi-domain SEO strategy also has pitfalls. Avoiding the mistakes below will ensure the success of your strategy.
1. Duplicate Content
Google doesn’t index pages that have the exact content. It will rank the one that was published first and has higher authority while deindexing the rest. So, copying and pasting content published online, even from a site you own, is not a good idea.
If you’re optimizing for queries on your microsites that your main site is also targeting, you must create content from scratch for your other sites. They will cover the same topics and contain similar information, but the content shouldn’t be the exact copy of the one you initially published on your primary site for the same keyword.
2. Improper Redirects
An improper redirect is when you use 302 redirect instead of a 301, which tells search engines that the redirect rule is temporary and to index the aged domain still. And because the domain retains authority from its backlinks, this redirect type won’t help your main site rank higher on search results.
Want us to Execute a Multiple-Domain SEO Strategy For You?
On The Map Marketing can develop and execute a multi-domain SEO strategy to quickly increase your brand’s ranking spread on SERPs. Our experienced SEOs will identify which domains to purchase and build the microsites from the ground up or redirect them to your primary website. Contact us so we can begin planning this strategy for your business or if you have questions.
Article by Christopher Jan Benitez
Chris has 15+ years of experience providing top-notch content for agencies and consultants across various industries. He has expertly weathered through and adapted to the ever-changing demands of client content creation. Outside work, he has a healthy Nintendo Switch obsession and plays terrible guitar.
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