Using multiple domain names has long been a common online marketing strategy. However, it’s hard to immediately declare the practice as good or bad. There are too many ways it’s been done.
In one Google Webmaster video for instance, Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts says that there’s only one legitimate way to cross-link the different sites of a single company:
“Cutts said about the only situation where this kind of solution is viable is if you’re linking multiple country site for the same company together. But even then, he suggested that you do it in a way that won’t come across as spamming.”
Now cross-linking is a serious SEO crime and can result in spammy tactics that will land your site at the bottom of the results. That doesn’t mean that Cutt’s example is the only common case of a single company having multiple domains.
- Domains by country – Still, it’s only fair to list country-based domains as one type. Sometimes regional (and even language) differences would require a different domain altogether. Issues like localization also have to be taken into account when you want your site appealing to audiences in a particular country.
- Domains by subsidiary – Subsidiaries exist even in the B2B world. These still retain a certain level of their independence. It only makes sense then that it’s reflected in their online territory. Some subsidiaries may even target a particular audience not covered by the main company!
- Domains by different products – Sometimes a company could offer a highly diverse selection of products which each need their own space. It can help each of those products/services gain their own strong following.
A better way of understanding the issue of multiple domains is simply recognizing their pros and cons outside of just having them for the sake of localizing.
Having different sites dedicated to different audiences helps you focus the sites to them. If you are looking to target several niches, this would be helpful.
The strong following of individual products/services will keep them from losing their uniqueness compared to just displaying them all on a single site.
Finally, with that kind of variety, you now have a variety of directions you can take prospects in case they lean towards one kind of audience or are just after one specific product.
Arguably the biggest challenge is justifying the connection of your site to any larger entity. This is where most prospects and viewers could suspect you of just gaining domains and sites for the sake of spamming.
Traffic could also be split (even contested) between the different sites. Trying to please a particular audience of one site might end up at the expense of another.
More splitting also occurs in the manpower needed to maintain each site. Having a single team dedicated to multiple domains can be surprisingly taxing. For instance, even the work of writing one blog a week can multiply by the number of different domains you made.
So as you can see, with the different cases of it being done plus the pros and cons, it’s really not easy to make a judgment call on having multiple domains. Spammy cross-linking may be an automatic out but that too is just one situation out of many where people try to dominate with them.