We get asked this question many times here at Dental Design and I thought I’d outline out just why this is not a good idea if you want to remain competitive online through SEO and what we can do instead should you have multiple domains.
If you have a site (a dental website for example), most likely you want people to find it. Not all sites, but most, rely on traffic to justify their existence. A dental practice is a business and as such a website is a business investment. Therefore the Search Engine Optimisation of the dental practice website is a really important investment in making the most of this business asset.
If that is the case, then you need to think seriously about what works for SEO and what doesn’t.
But I’ve done this before?
It may be that this technique has been advised and used in the past. Search engines used to acknowledge keyword rich domain names much more as a positive factor for SEO. This resulted in the buying up of ‘valuable’ domains for future use. For example a practice would buy and host ‘www.best-dentist.co.uk’, www.superdentist.co.uk’, ‘www.perfect-dentist.co.uk’ and other keyword rich domains and then have the site on all of the domains, the idea being that this would help with ranking for these keywords.
The presence of the keyword was in itself a ranking factor, but also the presence of the keyword phrase encouraged other webmasters to include the keyword in the anchor text when linking to the site. So it was a valid SEO tool.
Two things changed that have obliterated the above SEO technique. Firstly Google (and subsequently other search engines) updated their algorithm which meant exact match domains lost ranking factor. Therefore there is little gain in having numerous domains with exact keywords you want to rank for.
Secondly, further algorithmic updates greatly increased the negative ranking factor of duplicate content i.e. a website residing on 2 or more domains. These are now seen as a negative ranking factor. Google explains how it reads duplicate content in more detail here.
Evidence of these two affects are seen in data posted by moz.com in September 2012 showing the correlation between domains using exact keywords and ranking dropped from 0.34 in 2010 to 0.18 in 2012.
If a search engine determines that any domain serves up identical content, the engine will select a preferred version and then reduce the value of the other copies. This is done for each page across the site where there is the same content on another domain. When this happens, the internal linking is devalued, which usually ends up with all domains loosing link value and all of them suffering in the rankings.
We know that inbound links contribute hugely to SEO and as such a single domain has its entire links directly pointing to it, making it simple for search engines to calculate the inbound link values. When there are multiple domains to promote one website, the inbound links are diluted. Two URL’s with half of the inbound links pointing to the primary domain and the other half pointing to the secondary domain, means that each domain gets credit for only the half of the links it could have had if they were one domain.
What can be done now?
Whilst it really is easier to just promote one site, there is a simple method used to take advantage of previously bought domains that may have the website residing on it.
Setting up a 301 redirect and then telling Google which domain you want to have as your primary domain using webmaster tools is by far the best step in these circumstances.
There is no damage to using these varying domains for promotion, as long as a 301 redirect it used. Indeed the branding benefits of having multiple domains may come in useful.
See what happens when you type in www.bandq.com or www.bandq.co.uk. The user will unlikely notice the difference, search engines are happy with knowing what’s what, and you are rewarded with the search engine rankings that the site deserves.
Get in touch with us at dental Design to discuss domain names, 301 redirect and search engine rankings on 01202 677277.