Hi Jill -
I've only been subscribing to your newsletter for a short time, so sorry if I missed the answer to my question.
I have heard through the grapevine that if you buy many domain names and point them back to your home page, when the search engines find this out they will shut you off. Is that true at all?
The company I represent has been hounded by a persistent "search engine expert" who seems to be willing to say anything to get their business. He claims he once had a client who had 50 domains all pointing to the same front page. The search engines kicked them out, and they had to cut it down to only a couple of domains. (My client doesn't have 50 domains or even close to that.)
Because of this guy's expensive service to do "exclusive listings" on Google and Overture, I'm not sure what to think, but perhaps I'm missing something.
Thanks for your help.
The short answer is that it's very probable that the search engines did remove the multiple domains that all pointed to one site. Think about it...why would the engines want to have a whole bunch of doorway domains in their databases? All they're interested in are the actual homepage and its contents.
However, the long answer to the question of removing multiple domains is that it depends. There are legitimate reasons why a company might have numerous domains/sites that provide unique content and information but also happen to link back to the main company homepage.
For instance, take a corporation like Procter & Gamble. You have the main P&G site, but you also have hundreds of sites for all the different products that P&G markets. Each different product site has its own domain name and a unique Web site that also has a link back to the main homepage. No search engine would have a problem with this, as it makes sense to set things up this way.
Where companies get into trouble is when they create multiple domains solely for the purpose of attaining extra exposure in the search engines. Years ago, this was a common search engine optimization strategy (although it's one I always felt was shortsighted). The logic was that if one domain could bring in some rankings, just think of how many rankings 10, 20 or 30 domains could bring in.
Another reason for doing this was the belief that keywords in the domain name were somehow the secret weapon to obtaining high rankings! Instead of optimizing the visible copy and HTML code of the pages, many believed that all they needed was a keyword-rich domain (and of course Meta tags...NOT!). Well, I'm sure many of you who tried this technique found that this theory isn't all it was cracked up to be. Keywords in the domain name will help you only if you're competing against other sites that are equally unoptimized. Most engines give the domain name very little (if any) weight, and place much more emphasis on keywords used within the copy.
So, Michele, I guess my question to you would be what is the purpose of your client's multiple domains? Do they just have one site, but have a variety of domain names for branding purposes? If all the domain names are parked at one IP address, this is not going to be a problem with the search engines, because there's really just one site. But if they have a whole bunch of different sites that are simply there to drive traffic to the main site, then yes, this is trouble waiting to happen. If the company can explain their products and services using just one site (in other words, they ain't no P&G), then one site is probably all they should have. Get to work on that one site, and make it the best it can be.
Optimize all the copy on every single page for two or three unique keyword phrases, and create different Title tags to match. Be sure to remove all doorway domains and simply park the domain names at the same IP address as the main site. Then pat yourself on the back for averting a disaster, and sit down with a nice Merlot!
You may be interested in some previous questions I've answered about multiple domains. You can find them here:
CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.
High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.
Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.
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