Is it better to have a single stronger domain and rank higher globally but to get it you would need to venture into areas of your organisation that have nothing to do with you, or to keep existing processes unaffected and not interfere with other teams’ work? I know, it may sound like a very strange question. The answer may vary. In this post, I will present two questions you should ask to determine whether this strategy could work for you, share some examples of where this has been a success, and explore the best ways to go about building a stronger domain by making all teams in the business work together. In medium to large size businesses, individual divisions often create microsites themselves. These sites tend to focus on specific topics, for example:
- Jobs site, managed by HR.
- News & Press Releases site, managed by Internal Communications.
- Corporate and investors relations site, managed by third party specialist PR firms.
These websites are often hosted on different domains – all of which not only creates more maintenance costs (hosting, updates etc.) but splits link equity and authority into separate domains.
In this post I’m going to chat about consolidating multiple domains so you can create a stronger primary platform; whether you should do it, how you should do it, and some ways to go about this. To help kick this off, I will start with the example of Persimmon Homes. Persimmon is a large residential house building company here in the UK, they are a public limited company and have been around for a long time. Prior to a meeting with them I was searching for towns and cities plus the phrase ‘new homes in’ or plus ‘new homes for sale’. Persimmon Homes, along with a couple of competitors and, of course, several established property portals, were on the first page for almost every single phrase. In fact, they are in the top half of the first page, which I thought was pretty good. During the meeting we discussed migrating a number of sites owned by Persimmon hosted on separate domains and subdomains. These included:
Main site persimmonhomes.com
Other sites corporate.persimmonhomes.com persimmonjobs.com charleschurch.com hillreed.co.uk … and many more
The backlink profiles of these sites ranged from good to amazing. Some examples:
- corporate.persimmonhomes.com had links from extremely authoritative domains such as the guardian.com, dailymail.com, reuters.com, forbes.com, bbc.com, telegraph.co.uk and others sites that cover financial performance and annual results.
- persimmonjobs.com had links from very authoritative domains such as indeed.co.uk, gazettelive.co.uk, careerswales.com, jobstoday.co.uk and other job portals.
- charleschurch.com (previously acquired brand) had backlinks from national authoritative domains such as mirror.co.uk, standard.co.uk, moneysavingexpert.com as well as reputable regional press and community publications.
However, links to these sites obviously didn’t help the main site rank. Or at least they didn’t until we identified the opportunity to consolidate all of these sites into the main website. These smaller sites offered different experiences and had different styles but fundamentally they all belong to one business entity. The result of identifying this opportunity can clearly be shown in this screenshot from ahrefs showing the increase in referring domains to the main Persimmon site during the consolidation/migration campaign. If you’re a business in a similar situation and you’re trying to decide where should you focus your link equity efforts, this real life example might help you make your decision. At Delete agency we often recommend clients who own several domains to combine entities under a single domain as subfolders and set up 301 redirects, boosting their link profile and subsequently rankings. I believe a lot of people in the SEO industry would recommend the same. There are of course many reasons businesses would not want to do this. For example, a business could intend to keep one of their sub-websites or brands separate as they intend to sell it in future. Due to this, they may decide that consolidating the websites under one primary domain and to only have to split it out later will create more hassle in future. This is a perfectly reasonable scenario and the move to keep it separate would probably be the right one here.
Questions to ask
So, how do you know when it is right for your business to follow this strategy or not? Many SEOs asked themselves, “What should I do for my organisation? Should I consolidate other domains, or should I let different divisions worry about their own separate domains? Should the business run multiple sites and try and rank primary domain for target keyword phrases with whatever my share of the marketing budget is?”. The answer is this, before you make a decision, ask yourself these two questions. The answers to them will help you determine whether this is the right strategy for you.
1. Will I miss out on link equity opportunities by maintaining multiple sites? Can I make quick gains in link equity & authority signals by making changes in my organisation for the benefit of the whole business?
Firstly, assess if you are going to cannibalise link equity opportunities if you continue maintaining multiple sites. Be realistic and evaluate your ability to get enough equity and authority signals to rank your main site for all desired keywords on your own. A biggest challenge for many SEOs is link building and improving the authority of your domain. On-page content optimisation, markup optimisation, and all other on-site SEO tactics are very important, but your site still needs authority and a strong enough link profile to rank. Earning links takes a lot of time and effort and combining effort within the business would most certainly get you there faster.
2. Will multi-domain strategy cost time/money that would be better spent on boosting my primary site’s marketing?
In short, Yes. If you are going to keep a multi-domain strategy you are going to be splitting your budget into several websites versus putting all your money into one single domain. One other thing to consider is the running costs, as each of these site may come with its own hosting, maintenance and software licenses etc. Remember that physical site location doesn’t need to change, you can change only the domain name under which it is accessible. Another reason why some SEOs struggle to complete such migrations is that the business may be hit with additional costs from original sites providers for the effort required on their part to migrate into a single domain. Not all website platforms are easy to switch over to a subfolder.
To conclude this post I can say this: There are reasons why you might want to consider merging your sites into a single domain and reasons why a multi-domain route can be perfectly acceptable. Whatever you do, to try plan and weigh all pros and cons before doing anything, and if you are inclined to migrate be sure to prepare a tangible and justifiable business case for your business. It has to be worth it to you. I hope it will be a useful source of information for those who look for answers on this subject. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback below.