February 16, 2011
One of the most frequent questions I get as an SEO is whether or not it’s a good idea to register a bunch of different domain names (a.k.a. keyword-rich microsites). Because then you could make them all live! And link to each other! And drive even more traffic! Right?
Don’t get me wrong: registering different domain names can be a smart thing. This is not only good for reputation management, but can also help ensure that you control these entities instead of your competitors.
In most cases, however, you’ll want to leave the vast majority of those domains parked, or 301 redirect to your main site. HERE’S WHY:
1. Your main site should position for those terms, not a different site. You heard me. If you invest in a sound SEO strategy for your main website, then there’s no reason why it can’t position. In fact, that’s the best branded destination to convert your visitors – not some anemic alternate site you created around some keyword.
2. Let me just say that one more time: You do not need to register a keyword-rich domain in order for your site to position on that term.
3. Google takes it personally when people overtly manipulate results. Think about it. Google makes money by providing the best search experience online. They don’t really like it when the same company sneakily tries to control more than their fair share of SERPs. That’s bad for the user experience, and bad for Google’s bottom line.
4. Oh, I get it. You put unique content on the other domains? Well, I *still* don’t recommend this. Even if the content is different and tailored towards that particular keyword, you’re still filling up Google SERPs with links that, in the long run, all drive users to the same end entity. Not cool.
5. Microsites seriously dilute your BRAND equity. Talk about a confusing user experience – how can someone tell where to find you or if you are for real, if your business has all these different websites up, all with a different URL?
6. Microsites seriously dilute your DOMAIN equity. Every time someone links to a microsite instead of your main domain, that’s link equity lost from your most important online branded entity.
7. Microsites could be interpreted as a linking scheme. Also against Google Webmaster Guidelines, a linking scheme is a network of websites that all link together for various nefarious SEO purposes. So be very careful about how and where you link between sites, and consider use of “nofollow” to curtail further danger of penalty.
8. Microsites are a waste of time. Devote time and energy to help your main website rank and get the links instead.
Sometimes I feel like I am on a one-woman mission to end the scourge of microsites I see swamping up the Google SERPs. Google, if you are listening, you may want to rethink your dependence on keywords appearing in the domain name. That could also be why no one can find any good content these days on Dishwasher Reviews (a cheesy exact-match domain is merrily sitting at #1 right now), but I digress…
Written by Sarah Mackenzie.