Having several websites or domains on the same or similar topics can dilute your content’s ranking power and be confusing to users. This post reviews the five main reasons to combine your various websites/domains into one and the technical side of what you need to do to make that change.
5 Reasons to Combine Websites
We at BizBudding have had quite a few discussions about brand strategy, website domains, and SEO—directly resulting from customers who asked: “Should I combine websites?” There are plenty of business owners who think having multiple domains makes it easier for them to brand different components of their business. In some ways, it may. Truth is, having multiple domains for related brands, keywords, and topics will most likely kill your online business. Your online business is more than selling something online. It is how you create domain authority—how you represent your business to the online community and to Google. There are several reasons that having multiple websites is a bad idea. Here are five of them.
1. Duplicate Content Kills Domain Authority
Duplicate content is website content that appears in more than one place (website URL). Duplicate pieces of identical content on the Internet make it difficult for search engines to tell who the original author is. Duplicate content on the same domain (or on multiple related domains) makes it difficult for Google, Bing, and other search engines to determine if site A or site B is more relevant (i.e. where to send your organic traffic).
Search engines don’t know how to direct link metrics (trust, authority, link juice) to versions of duplicate content, and when that content is spread across multiple websites, you reduce your domain authority and the SEO value of your content.
2. Search Engine Rankings Will Improve
Let’s say you put the time and energy into managing multiple websites and ensure there is no duplicate content on any of your sites. It’s still not a great idea to have multiple sites, as they will compete with each other to rank in search results. Unless your websites cater to very different products, it’s quite likely that you will be using the same or very similar keywords on those websites. You would be better choosing one site as your main focus for driving traffic.
Additional problems may crop up if you put your address on your various websites or on Google+ Local pages. Google frowns on businesses having slightly different names, but the same services, address, and telephone number.
3. Google Dislikes Websites for Each Location
Many people think they should build a website for each of their locations or facilities. Google strongly recommends building a single site with landing pages for each location and adding a location finder tool.
Google’s John Mueller gives one of the best reasons why you should steer clear of managing multiple domain for each location:
Focusing on a single website makes it much easier for our algorithms to understand your site, the services you’re providing, and the regions that you service. Splitting that into separate sites for each location that you ship to not only makes it harder for our algorithms, but also for users (imagine if the post office did that).
4. Eliminate Customer Confusion
What happens when one of your customers searches for a service you provide and you have that service listed on two different websites? You create confusion for the customer. If they visit both sites, they may notice similarities, but may not be sure the products/services they are viewing are from the same company. This uncertainty makes it hard for visitors to establish trust and a sense of security and can negatively impact your conversion rates.
Another thing to consider is your social media accounts that you are likely already using for marketing purposes (if you’re not here’s why you should use social). Maintaining double the social media accounts is time-consuming and creates an additional layer of complexity. You want it to be clear to your audience—no matter where they are finding you—who you are, what you do, and where they can find the information they need.
5. Paid Search Will Be more Efficient
A single website is easier to implement search engine optimization (SEO) on than multiple websites. If you have WordPress site and the Yoast plugin, here is a guide to SEO best practices we’ve put together on optimizing your blog posts.
In addition to the SEO benefits, for SEM (Search Engine Marketing) or paid search, once again it is much simpler and more efficient to focus all your efforts on one website. This is especially true if your websites share common keywords. Quite often, your websites will compete with each other for Google Adwords, and you’ll be wasting precious marketing dollars.
Redirects, Site Migration, and HTTPS
What about those old domain names? During your site migration, place 301 redirects on all links from your old site to point them to your new site. The code “301” redirect is interpreted as “moved permanently” by the search engines and ensures that any website traffic your URLs generate is directed to the new domain. This also ensures that any inbound links you are receiving do not end up broken.
Something else to consider is using this as an opportunity to make your site more secure and switching from HTTP to HTTPS if you have not already. Google has been a huge proponent of a more secure web, and with the release of Chrome 68 in July 2018, Google now marks all HTTP sites as “not secure.”
If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable doing any of this yourself, be sure to contact an experienced web development company to make sure the transition goes smoothly and avoid any loss of traffic. BizBudding has had years of experience building and migrating websites for all sorts of reasons including re-branding, combining domains, and website refreshes (to improve on technical elements). If you need help merging websites, use the “Let’s Work Together” button at the top or bottom of this page to contact us.
Pull it All Together with Your Information Architecture
Unless your products are completely unrelated, you should seriously consider combining your sites. Good information architecture is your key to pulling your sites together. According to Wikipedia, information architecture is:
…the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
Said differently, a good information architecture provides you with a roadmap for site navigation and user experience, guiding you on how to combine websites into one solid new website. Creating a well-organized information architecture can be a very intensive project in the short-term, but it is worth the time as setting things up right will have numerous long-term benefits.
Your main goal is to create one website that really stands out. All content should have a clear purpose and should address info and topics your visitors are searching for. Old content should be refreshed if it is still useful. Focus on building a brand that conveys trust, clarity, and transparency.