Which is better for SEO in 2020? Single or multiple websites?
I used to work for a company that deals with organizing events and exhibitions. They have about 3 major events annually and their events are quite well-known.
But the thing is since each of the events has its own separate website, they have trouble promoting the image of their own company and ended up being known only for their events.
There are many similar businesses out there, offering more than one service or product range on their sites. A common question among business owners, especially those who are just starting out developing an online presence, is:
“Should I create a large single website, or are smaller multiple sites a better option for me?”
But of course, no two companies are the same. There are many factors to consider to decide, from the allocated budget to the available workforce and the nature of the business itself.
To make the best decision for your company, it is important to understand the advantages of each type of online business model will provide to your company.
The Benefits of Using a Single Website Model
This is the route that most online businesses take; at least in the beginning. Developing and running a single site is a solid model for your company, and it provides some key advantages of deploying a multiple websites model.
1) Shorter time commitment
A single website is quicker to start, and easier to maintain. Concentrating all of your time and effort into a single website will allow you to build a better site much faster than spreading your efforts among multiple sites.
Even if you have a lot of time on your hands, and are an expert website developer, content writer, and marketer, a single site minimizes the lead time before you can start earning money from your online business.
A single website not only saves you time in the setup phase, but continues to demand less of your time going forward. It takes a lot less time to keep a single site running well then to branch out with multiple sites.
Hosting and maintaining more than one site can put stress on your already limited time which you could invest in running your business, not your site.
2) Money matters
There is an old adage: Fast, cheap, and good — pick any two. Attempting to set up and run a quality online presence proves that the saying is true. A good site can cost thousands of dollars to build and maintain.
With a single site model, you can limit your fixed costs, such as hosting and help to control variable costs, including website development and content creation expenses. A lot of website plugins and extensions also usually costs more for multiple websites or domain use.
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3) Easier to cross sell
A business which provides a variety of related solutions to their customers will find it easier to cross-sell to a customer if everything is on one site.
New customers will be able to find what they need more easily, and returning customers are more likely to purchase because they already have a history of dealing with your business.
4) Rank higher on SERPs
A single website is easier and cheaper to optimize in order to get good SEO results than multiple websites. This is especially true if your multiple sites will share common keywords or related content. Even a small amount of duplicate content on a few sites in your network, can reduces the SEO rating across the board if Google determines you are attempting to game the system.
One way to solve duplicate content issue is by using Canonical Link:
In addition to preventing a Google slam from duplicate content, a single site is more likely to attract links from a wide range of third-party sites. All of these third-party links means better SERPs.
Even if your site is not attracting many inbound links, a single site with more content allows you to create internal to related content on your site that can also help to increase your site’s ranking.
Big companies that uses single website model
Finding large corporations that banks on just using a single main website are quite a difficult task, but there are still quite a number of them around.
Even with a large pool of resources, some companies still opt for single website approach for its simplicity, both for the company and the customer.
From my observation, this approach is mostly used by companies that specialize in a specific niche.
- Apple – The company that is famous for its focus on simplicity unsurprisingly have a simple and clean single-website despite operating on a multinational scale and features quite a diverse range of tech products.
- Nike – Nike is also one of the international brands that house its wide range of sportswear across many different sports under one website as well as its Nike+ app.
- Samsung – Quite similar to Apple, Samsung is a fellow tech company with similar, but even more diverse products.
Now, I can’t tell you that a single website is always going to be the best approach for you. You may be a genius site developer, or maybe you are lucky enough to have the backing of deep-pocket investors who can easily afford the costs of developing, promoting and running more than one site.
Even if you are a run-of-the-mill business owner, there are a few cases when considering developing more than one site for your business is still worth considering.
The Benefits of Choosing a Multiple Website Option
Multiple website usually a viable option for large enough organizations that span a diverse branch of product/service line as well as operating in a larger scale operation.
It also suits more established businesses that have already built a solid reputation and are backed up with more budget and workforce. But there’s also a lot more to it.
1) Create a geo-specific site
Businesses which sell services in more than one city may not find it beneficial to create a single site to handle all of their locations.
For example, if you are running a senior care center in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and New York City, creating a geo-specific site for each of these markets can bring obvious benefits for your company. Like any site, the smaller the market, the easier it is to rank higher on Google, and other, search engine.
2) Spotlight each of your brands or services separately
Businesses which sell more than one brand or provide a variety of services may want to split off each one onto its own site.
When your business split off brands and services to different sites, it is easy to use focused domain names and keywords to promote the site.
Sites which focus on one product line or services keep potential customers from becoming too confused when comparing similar products from different brands. Single brand sites make it quicker and easier for your customers to choose a product which is right for them.
3) Improve affiliate linking
Many sites earn a substantial amount of income from affiliate marketing. Developing a content-rich site around a single affiliate is less likely to lead to a search engine penalties than running a single site which links to dozens of affiliates.
A small site with 10 – 12 articles centered on a single topic with a single affiliate page won’t be considered as spammy as a general site linking to dozens of different affiliates.
4) Avoid single point of failure
Developing a multiple site model can also protect you if something happens to a site. If one of your sites is down due to technical or security reasons, you still have other working sites to generate business for you.
Multiple websites also allow you to add and eliminate product lines and services without having to update a lot of content and change links since each site is essentially self-contained.
Big companies that use multiple websites model
Multiple websites are more popular among large corporation. That’s a given considering not only they can afford to, but there are also many solid reasons to do so (such as giving their products and services their own distinct branding).
There are also cases where companies acquire other brands and since the acquired product already have their own image and reputation, it’s better too keep it that way rather than fully assimilating them into the new parent company and wasting the branding advantage.
- Unilever – This British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company is the prime example of a corporation that features a very large diversity of products across many different categories, each with their own brand and image. Each product also features their own region-specific website.
- Microsoft – Another giant tech company, Microsoft uses multiple websites to feature their various software and gadget offering as well as providing a rich online resource for support and troubleshooting. Microsoft focuses on a lot of functionality including forums and online stores rather just a catalog for product display.
- Coca-Cola – The Coca-Cola company also adopts a multiple website approach even with very little variety in their products, specializing only in the beverage industry. Each of their product has their own distinctive website.
The takeaway here is that no matter if you are a c2b or b2c, the need for every business is different, and the decision to have one or more sites is dependent on your individual needs. Understanding the advantages and disadvantage of each marketing plan is critical.
Think long and hard before you bite off more than you can chew with multiple websites, but no one knows your business better than you.
If you think multiple websites makes sense for your situation, go for it.
A quick summary of the benefits and drawbacks of single and multiple websites models:
Now, are you clear on the benefits between a single websites strategy vs a multiple website strategy?
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This post was originally written by Azfar Hisham and published on Aug 12, 2015. It was most recently updated on April 25,2020.
Updated: 14 December 2020