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by Oliver Ewbank on 23rd September 2011
One question I get asked by clients time and time again is ‘should we build another website’? I can see the logic behind the question. Who wouldn’t want to double their traffic but is another domain the best way to go?
Why Do It?
There are numerous reasons people want to start up a new website. Some want a separate brand, others want to target a different demographic. Another common reason is to monopolise the SERPs with multiple rankings.
If the new site is going to be based on a separate subject then by all means have a different domain. For example a Surf Shop may want to branch out into Sun Cream. The two sites may walk hand in hand but from an SEO point of view, two sites could be more beneficial.
Keep it Unique
If you’re going to have two separate sites it’s important that search engines can easily distinguish between the two. Below are factors you should try and keep separate:
The Danger of Duplicate Content
The reason you need to demonstrate individuality is because Google heavily frowns upon duplicate websites. Their Official Webmaster Guidelines clearly mention ‘don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content’.
If you’re still asking why (which I hope you’re not!) the answer is simple. It makes a mockery of the Google algorithm and allows companies to monopolise the first page of search results. Google believes in a fair marketplace and will come down heavily on anyone who tries to adopt this approach.
While I have seen two sites ranking for the same term (from the same organisation) I would still not recommend it. Google’s superior system will be working overtime to make sure this doesn’t happen and the project will need to be tremendously unique to achieve sustainable search results.
Is One Big Site Better?
So back to the main question – is one site better than two? This will depend on your motive. If you want to double traffic I would suggest working harder on your main site. In almost all cases your original site will have a better domain history, better backlinks and a proven Click through Rate (yes this will be measured). So why start a new site when you can get more traffic from your old one? The usual answer is that it takes too much effort to create new content.
Which Takes More Effort?
There is no doubt that creating rich compelling (not to mention crawlable) content can be very time consuming. But is it more time consuming than buying a domain, organising hosting, designing a website and then creating new content? Probably not!
Making the Old Site Work Harder
So if you’re not going to try and rank two sites for the same keyword how will you double traffic? The quick answer is thorough keyword research. If you spot new keywords worth targeting you can simply create a page around that key term.
A Quick Example
For example, an online gardening shop wants to have two sites ranking for the term ‘gardening tools’. Google’s keyword tool predicts there are 2,400 exact match local searches a month for this term. You obviously wouldn’t entice all these visitors but say you had a ‘Click through Rate’ of 20% that would roughly calculate into 480 visits.
If you had two sites ranking for this term you could achieve double the clicks (960 visits). But is it worth the risk and effort of trying to optimise two similar websites? Probably not
So how can you double your traffic without multiple rankings for the same term? Target more keywords with new pages! For example, if you also ranked for the terms below you would achieve the same results.
Collectively the above ‘longer tail keywords’ have the same search volume (2,400 searches) which means page one rankings could still achieve double the traffic (a 20% CTR would achieve 480 visits).
Dominating page one with multiple sites is an idea often pursued by many organisations. But in reality it is better making the most of your current domain. If clogging up page one with multiple rankings is your aim I would first consider running AdWords ads on specific ‘premium keywords’. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you double your chances of getting a click.
Creating a new site can often prove costly in more ways the one. You have to consider development costs as well as running the risk of getting punished for duplicate content (de-indexed). Even your link building strategy will need to be unique (search engines can easily spot a copied link profile).
Before considering a new site I would carefully consider the risks involved. Ranking two sites for the same term is often a dream not worth pursuing. If you run calculated keyword research you will be able to grow traffic in a more sustainable manner.