Some people find buying domain names quite addictive and buy anything and everything that relates to their company, offering or location. The two most common reasons for buying lots of domain names are:
1 to stop your competitors from getting them and limit the available options of potential new competitors
2 when you have such a strong brand that potential customers might actually try typing the domain name that they think will be yours
A common scenario is to have a main website address, for example mybusiness.com which is usually more than adequate. In addition some people would buy:
And on and on and on. In many cases they are unnecessary. How many people are going to try and guess what your domain name is? If they know your brand they will probably simply type it in to Google. If they are doing a general search they will type general search terms and if you are well optimized you’ll come up in the results ahead of your competitors.
In addition to being an extra cost, extra domains can sometimes harm the rankings of your main site by confusing the Search Engines or incurring penalties. There are three common ways that businesses manage having multiple domain names:
1 Have a different website for each domain
2 Have the same website on each domain
3 Have all the other domains redirecting back to the main website
Having a different website for different domains can be effective if you are targeting different niche markets with your different offerings (or targeting different countries). In this way you can be very specific with the information you present and you can talk directly to a single audience. It does however mean that website design, annual hosting and search engine marketing costs are all multiplied. Often smaller businesses find there is not enough budget to do everything properly. The websites might not look as professional as they could because cheaper options were chosen, or there may be no budget left for search engine marketing so the sites might not get found by the target audience.
Having the same website on each domain is commonly known as ‘mirroring’. This is where you just ask your developer to have a duplicate of your site sitting on each domain and you maybe change a few words here and there. The Search Engines genuinely don’t like this. In many cases they get confused because they index different sites at different times. It is tidier and easier for the Search Engines to have one site to focus on.
The third option is to have a permanent redirect placed on all your extra domain names that points them back to your main site. For a user, if they did type in one of your other domain names the screen would refresh and show them your main website. Google’s preferred method of redirect is to set a .301 redirect at server level. It is normally a quick job for your website developer to arrange this.
If you need to target very niche audiences, or foreign countries, and you have the budget to do the job properly then it is great having a number of specialized websites. For many small to medium-sized operators however, the safest and most effective strategy is to have one site that is well presented and well marketed. Focus on delivering your own brand and experience well, and driving business through one well planned user-friendly website.