This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Mike in Columbus, who writes:
“Let’s say I do some keyword research and find a really strong search volume around some keywords that are highly related to my website. I then purchase those keywords as URLs – 30 of them.
What’s best for my main website traffic, authority, search results and overall improvement in SEO? Should I create a landing page for each URL and link to my main site from each landing page, or simply forward each URL to my main page?”
I think that having multiple websites targeting specific keywords is a really bad strategy for most companies.
It is almost always better to start by consolidating your web properties into one ultra-strong site where you can push all of your marketing efforts, not just SEO.
From a non-SEO perspective, when you create strong, branded web presences, you will get more clicks and traffic.
From an SEO perspective, every site you control requires additional resources.
If you have 30 sites, you have to optimize 30 sites.
You must do technical SEO maintenance on 30 sites.
You have to secure and protect 30 sites.
You have to build links to 30 sites.
For most companies, having many sites causes resource issues, and most companies simply don’t have the bandwidth to optimize 30 sites well.
What ends up happening is that some sites get attention, while others flounder.
In fact, I’d be confident in saying that most companies that employ this type of strategy either get nothing out of it or have a poor ROI.
The resources required to optimize so many sites cost more than the money that can be made, in many cases.
Exact Match Domains Do Work
It’s a shame to have to admit this, but I do know that having a keyword in the URL of your site will make it more likely to rank for that particular keyword.
In the past, Google has told us that keywords in a URL are NOT a ranking factor.
It may not be a ranking factor, but anecdotal evidence suggests that sites with a keyword in the URL are more likely to rank for that keyword.
However, just having a site rank for a particular keyword does not automatically translate to increased traffic, sales and leads.
Extraneous domain names, meaning domain names beyond your main, branded web property, are much more exposed to the whims of a Google algorithm update than a well-built main brand domain.
If you have the resources to build out a robust web presence on your extraneous domain name, you are likely to lose any rankings gained from having a keyword in your domain name.
Google has said that keywords in domain names don’t affect rankings.
Even though we know they do.
But at the end of the day, keywords in the top-level domain are a weak signal and in most cases won’t result in a good ROI.
Keywords In Page Names
One tactic I am a fan of is using keywords in page URL names.
The signal for the keyword is not as strong as it is when it appears in the top-level domain. But with a little effort, you can make the signal even stronger than it is on those extraneous domains.
Creating a robust and sensible internal linking structure combined with great content is usually enough to elevate a page with keywords in the domain name to the same level as a site with keywords in the top-level domain.
I highly recommend looking for a better strategy than buying a bunch of domains with keywords in them.
Sure, if you have unlimited resources, testing some of those domains might make sense, but even doing that runs the risk of cannibalization.
And don’t think that Google doesn’t know what you’re doing when you buy 30 domain names hoping to rank the same company.
And just a hint – Google doesn’t like it when you try to rank multiple domains for the same company.
If you were able to rank all of your sites, it would create a bad experience for the end-user.
And experience Google doesn’t want them to have.
So when Google figures out what you are doing, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will take action to fix the poor user experience.
Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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