Which is Better? A Single Domain or Multiple Domains?
The Advantages of Single Domains vs. Multiple Domains
If your company has multiple products, brands, or divisions, you may need to decide whether to put all of those entities together on one large website or create multiple websites for each. There’s no one size fits all answer to this conundrum. It really depends on your unique business and its goals.
Definition of Single Domains & Multiple Domains
Before we get started on addressing this long-standing debate, let’s first define each strategy.
- Single Domain Strategy — If you choose a single domain strategy, all of your focus for each of your products and services will emanate from one URL. This is true regardless of what brand is doing the selling.
- Multiple Domain Strategy — A multiple domain strategy is just the opposite. In this case, your entire product line, all of your divisions, and each of your geographic locations, might be represented by its own unique domain.
Let’s look at the benefits of each possibility.
Benefits of a Single Domain Structure vs. Multiple Domains
- Domain Authority — DA drives rankings. It’s easier to gain domain authority when employing a single domain strategy. Single domain websites tend to have more pages, images, accesses, and more quality content, thus improving the strength (authority) of that domain.
- Home Page Authority — The home page authority for a single domain will be much higher given the greater number of pages on the site. Also, that authority from the more popular home page will be passed to the other pages within the site.
- Link Building — Backlinks are a major ranking tool. On a single domain strategy, the effect of inbound linking will resonate across the entire domain, rather than being separated across communities on multiple domains. Link building is often the most challenging aspect of SEO and a single domain is certainly of benefit to making your life easier.
- Old Domain Forwarding — If you have multiple domains now, you will benefit from the links that are already built on the old pages by simply forwarding them to the single domain. So, if you decide to make such a change, at least the backlink aspect will not be hindered.
- Older Domains — Older domains tend to rank better. This is more prominent on BING and Yahoo! than it is with Google, but it’s a factor to be considered. So, when your business started, you probably only started with the original domain. That domain will naturally be most beneficial from a SEO standpoint.
- Improved Branding — If you market all of the divisions under the same company, it may be better for overall branding to keep a single, larger domain.
- Stronger Company — People want to work with strong and viable companies. By showing multiple product lines and projects, this is better portrayed to the visitor.
- Content Marketing — Google doesn’t like to visit stagnant domains. It prefers domains with consistently new content. By having new content over many brands or divisions, you’ll be more likely to be getting more visits, more often, from the Google BOT. This will result in greater indexing of your website pages.
- Cross Selling — There may be some customers that know you for a particular product, but don’t know that you are involved in another vertical. Keeping all of the products on a single domain helps with this. Customers like dealing with companies they know and there’s nothing more frustrating for a salesperson to hear from his client: “I didn’t know you did that?” Ugh!
- Expenses — Why pay for additional domains, hosting, SSL certificates, etc… when you can coordinate it all within one domain?
- Recent Changes — Many SEOs (including me) used to believe that having keywords in your URL was an SEO advantage. John Mueller of Google announced recently that keywords in the URL have no significant impact. This has made me consider a single domain strategy to be increasingly more important, because it takes away one of the long-held beliefs of SEO’s that keywords in domains was a significant ranking factor.
- SEO — Working with a single provider to guide your SEO and other website marketing efforts allows for a more cohesive overall business plan.
Benefits of a Multiple Domain Strategy
- Corporate Sale — If you were going to sell a division or brand, it would be easier to transfer a domain to the new purchaser.
- Different Products — The key differentiator here is “do you sell to the same customer base?” Procter & Gamble, for instance, uses a multiple domain strategy for its products, because Gillette razors and Tampax tampons are likely not purchased by the same person. If you are not talking to the same customer or vertical market, a multiple domain strategy is probably better.
- Ranking for More than 1 — The biggest benefit of having multiple domains would occur if you had two or more sites ranking on the first page for the same business. I successfully performed this strategy in a previous business by having several different brands in the downloadable ringtone business ranking on page one. That’s like owning all three oriental rug stores in the same town!
- International — If you sell internationally, or need different languages on a site, a multiple domain strategy is best. It allows you to use specific country code top level domains (ccTLD) such as “.co.uk” instead of .com. There’s also the issue of being divided by a common language; American English often uses a “z” where British English uses a “s” in the same word. Think global. Act local.
- Niche Products — If you have a product that is very niche, it may get “lost” on a larger website. As part of a bigger site, it may attract less backlinks as well.
- Products with a Short Shelf Life — If you have a product that may not be around for a long time, a dedicated site might be better than including it on your larger site since you know you’ll be disposing of the information soon anyway.
So Which is Better?
Is a single domain strategy or multiple domain strategy better for your business? I think it comes down to a few factors.
- If you own a small business, are you really going to have the resources to maintain multiple domains? It’s probably going to be best to have a single domain strategy for SMB’s unless you are in the e-commerce field.
- If SEO is your primary consideration, a single domain strategy is going to win every time.
- When your business serves various target markets, a multiple domain strategy is likely the better choice.
- If your business is multinational, especially where different languages are involved, a multiple domain strategy is going to be the better option.
Looking to create a new website, or many websites using a multiple domain strategy? Consider Purplegator web development. At Purplegator, we’ll develop your new website(s) and include the SEO building blocks during the design process.
Bob Bentz is the author of Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing.