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Digital Marketing September 20, 2017

One or multiple websites? What is the smart thing to do?

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As search engine marketing agency, we often come across a situation in which a client or prospect is toying with the question whether to use one or multiple websites. What is the best way to go for SEO (search engine optimisation) and branding and can this be combined?

It is assumed in the overview below that the various websites are somewhat the same in terms of theme or target group. Of course, every situation and goal is unique and so some distinction is desired when reading our opinion.

For the sake of clarity; what do we mean by satellite websites:

One domainSatellite Websites
www.deptagency.comwww.deptagency.com
www.deptagency.nl
nl.deptagency.com
de.deptagency.com

 

In short; by satellite we mean both extensions and sub-domains.

 

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We have shared our opinion of the use of a single vs. multiple (satellite) websites from the SEO perspective below.

AspectsA domainSatellite sitesWinner
(SEO) Technology and maintenanceMaking a website technically in order can prove to be a challenge. This could be done efficiently if you use copies of your site, but it requires more care, maintenance and costs compared to having to keep only one site online.More websites cost more time and energy. If you are already working with multiple sites, then make sure you use a SEO-friendly CMS and can easily share your learnings across your sites.One domain is easier to operate in terms of management and technology. The winner concerning this aspect in our opinion.
 

(SEO) Content and maintenance

 

Unique content is and will always be crucial. It is easier to work from a website when monitoring, measuring and optimising your content. Checking the proliferation of (double) pages and adequate focus are more easily guaranteed with a site.

 

If you have a lot of resources, then it may be interesting to appear in the organic results with multiple sites. However, my advice for most organisations would be to do well with one site first and to maintain focus.

 

A single domain In terms of maintenance, resources and monitoring, a single site is easier than multiple websites. Having websites work with one another may result in competing with yourself.

 

(SEO) Link-building and authority

 

Making a website popular on the web is a challenge in itself. All of the efforts that you put into your relations, visibility, social media and buzz must be made for each website separately. Of course, you may opt to link your sites to one another (the question is, however, whether Google can recognize such as link-scheme. In short, do not cheat with link-building and treat every site like a unique product.

 

This is possible provided that you have a lot of resources, but we would sooner advise to deploy these resources for 1 website with lovely, unique and, more than anything, valuable content.

 

A single domain. Every website is unique and must earn its spot on the web and that does not happen overnight. Gaining authority on multiple websites is probably one of the most underestimated aspects of SEO.

 

Branding

 

A website with a solid structure could serve a broad range of services and themes that also mutually enhance one another.

 

We feel that a website should be part of your brand, rather than the other way round. We feel there is nothing to gain from managing multiple websites, unless you serve totally different services/target groups.

 

One domain is better for your ‘brand’ in our opinion. All the same, you could opt to launch specific campaign websites, although this will add little to the SEO and you will have to buy the traffic to your campaign websites.

 

International

 

It may be more convenient on an international level to work with the country extensions (ccTLD). If you do not own a gTLD (for example, .com), then you may be forced to opt for multiple websites. If you do own a good gTLD and you maintain adequate speed for your international users, then we would still recommend that you keep everything on one site.

 

If forced to do so, it may prove beneficial to launch multiple websites on an international level. If you intend to work with a gTLD, then do make sure that you own the ccTLD’s.

 

One Domain.Assuming there are no obstacles, this has our preference. You share the authority in this way, allowing the various target countries to benefit from one another. Indicating to Google which site is intended for which country works fine from SEO. Do ensure adequate speed.

 

Exact search term as domain name

 

If you have an absolute top domain at your disposal, then it can certainly be interesting to launch it. And although Google has claimed to be less appreciative of this for years now, this works quite well in a number of verticals in our experience. We do advise not to bet everything on this and to only proceed if you have an exact match with your search term.

 

It may be worthwhile if you have an exact match.

 

Satellite Website

 

Measurability

 

Also of importance is being able to indicate how your website is performing. An airtight measurability is essential in this respect and can be challenging per site in some cases.

 

It is technically possible to link multiple websites to one another so that you can provide the management with an overall dashboard and result. Do note that this may be challenging and that the analysis of your data can become more complicated.

 

A single domainTechnically, it is possible, but it requires more resources and management. As far as we are concerned, this aspect should not be the decisive factor for the choice that you make. Nevertheless, guaranteeing your measurability on one domain rather than with various domains forms a more solid foundation.

 

It is obvious that we, as an agency, have a strong preference for a single domain. As mentioned before, every situation is unique and our Online marketing advisors will gladly discuss your situation with you. We hope we were able to share our vision with this list.

Good luck with making the right choice!

Questions? We are here to help!