When you finally decide on your company name it is imperative that you protect your brand going forward and maximise traffic. While the vast majority of people will focus on one main website there is an argument for looking towards multiple domains to build and promote your business. In some cases the various strategies are long-term but they do help to build on the strong base of your main company website and can significantly enhance traffic over time.
The most obvious multiple domain strategy is the one where you acquire an array of top level domain (TLD) extensions. This may take in TLDs such as .com, .co.uk and .net as just three examples of literally hundreds if not thousands of options. The simple idea is that acquiring the main TLD extensions to your brand name will stop others from “piggybacking your success” and potentially holding you to ransom further down the line. There is also the issue of reputation; if somebody acquires the .com version of your company name/brand then any negative actions which they take may well reflect badly on your long-term reputation. Unfair but true. There are obvious ways and means of addressing such issues. However, in many cases you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Acquiring the main TLDs associated with your domain name was relatively straightforward when there was just a handful of leading domain extensions. The situation has changed over the years. Today, it is near impossible, potentially far too expensive, to acquire all TLD versions of your domain name. So, if you do go down this route then you will simply need to pick and choose the ones which are likely to be most popular and beneficial to you. Brand protection is important but you need to look at the wider picture.
We have seen many companies over the years which have started relatively small in their home countries and literally expanded to worldwide dominance. If for example, you have a .co.uk TLD but you are potentially looking to expand into Europe, don’t hesitate. Look at acquiring the .eu version of your domain name sooner rather than later. If for some reason you decide not to pursue a particular overseas venture the cost of acquiring the domain name as protection will be minimal.
It is worth noting that some country specific TLDs, such as .eu, can only be purchased if you have a physical presence within the EU. There are many countries where no such presence is required. So, this is something which you need to research as you look to expand your multiple domain strategy.
In years gone by, keyword domains were extremely valuable and often offered a shortcut to relatively high search engine rankings for particular terms. Though there is significantly less power now than in the past. Since the likes of Google addresses this “loophole”. However, that is not to say that keyword domains do not have a place in a comprehensive multiple domain name strategy.
If for example you were a tax accountant, the website taxaccountant.co.uk would seem a perfect fit. Even though the historic shortcut to SEO success may have been diminished over the years, this domain does exactly what it says and is a perfect example of keyword domains. Aside from the fact that you may well get type-ins, where people simply type in a domain name rather than finding it through the search engines, it could also offer the basis for a very interesting micro-site.
Micro-sites are very interesting because structured correctly they can offer an array of extremely focused sales funnels. Again, we will use the example of a UK tax accountant. Theoretically micro-sites such as incometax.co.uk, corporationtax.co.uk and capitalgainstax.co.uk could significantly increase traffic and create strong leads. However, you need to work on these sites!
All successful micro-sites are highly focused on a particular subject with relevant and detailed content covering various issues and scenarios. By promoting these micro-sites you can create backlinks which will improve the search engine rankings. Thus allowing you to gradually build an proper SEO profile. If you add high quality content to the site on a regular basis, this can produce a snowball effect. Creating large numbers of backlinks. If we look at the incometax.co.uk website, with extremely high quality and focused content on income tax (predominantly UK), this should in due course push the website up the search engine rankings for terms such as “income tax”.
While you could offer direct services on the micro-site, many people prefer to liaise with the recognised brand names with personal issues such as taxation. Therefore, adding a link from the micro-site for the term “income tax” to your main accountancy domain would create a strong flow of link juice. In effect, aside from the SEO carried out on your main accountancy site, this would boost the main site rankings for, in this example, the term “income tax”. It is not difficult to see the potential to create an array of micro-sites which feed strong link juice to your main site for a number of focused terms.
There will be occasions where for example you may change your company name, acquire another brand or simply decide to refocus on a different TLD. While there are various ways to “redirect traffic” the most efficient with regards to SEO is a 301 redirect. This method requires some experience in the area of coding with a file added to the server of the site which you wish to redirect.
In many cases the file will redirect all traffic to one page of the new website – more commonly the home page. However there may be cases where republishing content from the old site to the new site is possible. You can set it to redirect traffic to the new webpage. Examples below:-
All ABCaccountants.co.uk traffic will be redirected to ABCaccountants.com
In this instance, the power accumulated by backlinks to all pages of the ABCaccountants.co.uk website will be redirected to the home page at ABCaccountants.com. There will be no differentiation between individual pages of the old website; it will simply be a transfer of SEO power and backlink juice to the home page.
Individual page, ABCaccountants.co.uk/incometax.php traffic will be redirected to ABCaccountants.com/incometax.php
This scenario covers the situation where content from the old website has been republished on a new website. However, rather than lose the SEO power and backlinks to the old website page this is simply redirected and transferred to the new page. This strategy allows you to redirect as many pages as you like from the old website to the new website with a simple piece of code. You don’t have to code each individual page transfer but simply translate the old page extension to the new domain name address. You must also consider the matter of domain security when putting such redirects in place.
So, even if you do decide to change your domain name in the future, or perhaps focus on another TLD, this does not necessarily mean you will lose the backlinks. With this option you can transfer the SEO power you have built up over the years to your new main site.
Creating a multiple domain name strategy
In essence there are three specific ways in which you can put together a multiple domain name strategy. These are:
Buying existing domains
When buying an existing domain there may already be content on the site or you are simply buying the domain name itself. In the perfect scenario, an existing domain name which has not dropped or expired would have an array of backlinks and quality content which you could utilise for your main website. In simple terms, you would be buying a ready-made micro-site which you could enhance and add to.
On occasion there will be domain names available which fit perfectly with your multiple domain name strategy but have no content. You are simply buying a domain name which you can develop or redirect. A domain with content already available would likely give you a better SEO boost. Though success depends on the backlinks and their quality. It is therefore essential that you research the backlinks to any domains you want to acquire. Also don’t forget to review the links’ SEO rankings. If the site was blacklisted by Google or has an array of inappropriate backlinks this could actually be detrimental to the SEO rankings of other sites within your portfolio.
Buying new domains
Initially, until a new domain has been developed and promoted, the majority of your traffic may well come from type-ins. The acquisition of a “clean” new domain does give you carte blanche to develop. Do with it as you wish. However it is worth noting that it falls in the more long-term strategies available to you. You are effectively launching a new website with no backlinks no brand awareness and no content. There is a danger that you could be splitting your SEO budget between a new domain. For example, developing a micro-site, and your existing website. In the long term, using quality content and white hat promotional techniques, you could build a very strong domain name with significant link juice. However, this scenario does not happen overnight.
Buying expired domains
When looking to acquire expired domains you would need to research the history first. Consider historic backlinks and SEO rankings too. Some TLDs will hold their backlink strength longer than others. This is a great! Especially where you are looking to redirect an expired domain name to your active website. If you are selective and focused on the type and quality of expired domain names you buy, there is the potential to transfer significant power to your existing site. Again, you should also focus on the any detrimental backlinks. These could have potentially negative effects on your portfolio.
There are many ways in which you can protect your brand name. But in reality, it is impossible to acquire all TLD variations of your domain name. If you decide to go down this route, you would need to select the more important TLDs. Then, protect your brand name by acquiring those at the same time as your main domain name. In some cases, it would make sense to think ahead if you plan to target overseas markets.
There is also the potential to create micro sites which focus on particular keywords and terms. Together these can help to create strong search engine rankings for a website. You can then utilise the strong backlink profile to benefit your main site. This is a perfect scenario to gain rankings one and two on the first page of Google for relevant keywords. There is also the matter of 301 redirects and keyword domains to consider. Both of which can have a part to play in building your main website power and profile. So long as their structure is correct.
The individual power of the above strategies can be significant. However, the cumulative power can be a game changer for your business. Also be aware that multi-domain hosting is a highly popular option today. The success of multidomain hosting is primarily due to the fact that it reduces costs.