TLWR - When done right, buying extra domain names might marginally boost your SEO - but the wrong approach can hurt your website ranking. We also lay out some good non-SEO reasons to get multiple domain names: safeguarding your business reputation, avoiding lost traffic, and getting more SERP real estate.
The world of SEO moves fast, and it seems like rules and best practices can change all the time. So, in 2024, what’s the best way to help your SEO performance on Google and other search engines?
One tactic that people have been using for a long time is picking up extra domain names that are related in some way to their main brand. But does purchasing extra domain names improve SEO? Though it is popular, the truth is that in most cases, this method won’t specifically boost your SEO – but sometimes it can be a good decision anyway. Let’s dig a little deeper into why extra domains can help you in the long run.
While purchasing extra domain names and redirecting them to your main website can be a common practice, it's important to note that this approach alone may not have a significant impact on your SEO. Search engines like Google primarily focus on the quality and relevance of the content on your main website, rather than the number of domains you own that are pointing to it. Instead of solely relying on redirecting extra domains, it is crucial to prioritize other essential SEO strategies, such as optimizing your website structure, creating valuable content, and building a strong backlink profile. By focusing on these aspects, you can improve your SEO performance more effectively and achieve long-term success in search engine rankings. Remember, SEO is a comprehensive process that requires a holistic approach rather than relying solely on the quantity of domains pointing to your website.
What Is Domain Forwarding?
First, let’s go over a bit of the technical details. In order for any of these multiple domain names to be effective, you first need to set up domain forwarding – that is, ensuring that the domains you’ve bought will automatically redirect to your existing site instead.
You do this through your registrar (i.e. GoDaddy or another place where you purchased the domain to begin with). You can set it up so that when people type in a secondary, extra domain that you own, it will immediately bring them to your main site instead. This gives a sense of continuity among all your secondary domains, as there is no limit to how many you can forward. For extra help, simply phone your registrar (if they offer this option) or search for a "domain forwarding guide" and you’ll find plenty of resources to choose from.
Why Should I Get Extra Domains?
While picking up extra domains likely won't supercharge your SEO score, it can still help in small ways - and there are other reasons to follow through on it, too.
2 Reasons People Buy Extra Domains In An Attempt To Benefit SEO
1) Forwarding Other People's Old Domains for a Backlink-related SEO boost.
Some people will pick up “dropped domains” – addresses that were once owned by someone else, and had a site attached – to try and redirect them to their own website and get a boost from the backlinks.
It worked because the old “dead” domain still has SEO data stored with Google and other search engines. If the person who owned it before had a good site with lots of relevant backlinks, all of those may remain in place (even if there is no longer a website for the links to go to). However, if you possess the domain, you can make the links point to your site instead, effectively “hijacking” all that juicy SEO data from the original. This doesn’t require any new sites to be built, and is fairly simple to do.
2) To Build New Websites on them and Backlink them to their Main Website. If you get possession of a dropped domain, you don’t need to just redirect them back to your main site. You can actually build completely new sites under those domains, and put links on them that lead to your main site as well. This approach can help boost your original site’s SEO presence, since the backlinks will be relevant and healthy. It does require a bit more work though, because you’d have to create and maintain multiple websites instead of just owning the domains. Here’s something to remember if you pick up a dropped domain, though: since Google’s crawl data sticks around indefinitely, the mismatch between a domain’s old and new site – and their backlinks – can cause issues in search engine results pages. This may result in the algorithms deciding the site is completely new, and all previous backlink SEO strength will be discounted. So, if simply purchasing extra domains is not necessarily beneficial for your SEO, what are some reasons to go through the trouble of registering and redirecting other domains?
5 Reasons To Buy Extra Domains That Do Not Affect SEO
1. To Safeguard Yourself Against Reputation Destruction. Have you ever typed a website with a “.ca” instead of a “.com” or “.org” and ended up on a shady-looking, badly built site instead of the one you wanted? These variations can become a problem if they make you seem less reputable by association. When you get your regular domain, you can also pick up all the variations of it for sale and prevent others from diluting your presence. Redirect them all to your main site for a wide net across the web, too. It may not add to your SEO, but it will definitely not harm your brand, either. 2. If You Have A Similar Brand Name To Someone Else. Do you have a brand name similar to another company or product? Just try to do a Google search for companies with Delta or United in the name, and you’ll quickly see how much of a headache this can be. In such cases, picking up extra domains adjacent to both names can make sure that your customers are not ending up on their site. The competition may be high among those names, so this is a scenario you would have to play by ear in order to see if it’s worth the trouble. It usually is, in order to have that distinct brand presence. 3. If Your Brand Name Is Tricky To Spell. If your company name uses a clever misspelling, a grouping of letters, or anything else that may often be typed incorrectly, you may be losing plenty of online customers without even realizing it. All it takes is one wrong letter shared among a big group for the link to be broken and frustration to set in. The solution? Pick up those misspelled domains and forward everything to your site, so that even if people type in an error, it will still lead them to the right place. This can actually help your SEO, too: if another website builds a link from their site to yours, and gets the web address wrong, it will still bring anyone who clicks on it to your website. This boosts your optimization score with healthy backlinks, and you end up netting SEO benefits. For example, if your domain is calgary.com but people often type calgaru.com, you can pick up the second domain and redirect it to your main site. Even if a bunch of local websites make a similar error and misspell the name, all the good data that Google associates with the links going to calgaru.com will redirect along with it….giving you a nice SEO boost in the process. 4. To Keep Them Away From Your Competition. If there’s a lot of competition in your field, you can pick up any highly-desired domains before they are taken away – not necessarily to use them, but more so to keep competitors from using them. Some companies use these extra domains to point to specific, well-known sub-brands or products on their main site, making it easier to share simple URLs with a memorable name. Imagine your best-selling product has a long URL for its purchase page, like mydomain.com/products/category1/size1/colour2/materials2… and so on. Instead of trying to share that, you can get an additional domain to forward to that page specifically: bestproduct.com. It’s a lot cleaner, looks better, and is much easier for potential buyers to type and share correctly. 5. To Own More Search Engine Results Page Real Estate. Instead of purchasing and setting up simple automatic redirects to your site from other people’s dropped domain addresses – names that used to point to their live sites – you can buy their old domain addresses and actually BUILD your own new, smaller “satellite” sites to go up in their place. If the content you write (in Google’s eyes) closely matches what the old site was, but promotes your brand instead, it can keep some of the old domain’s Google ranking position and the continuity of link health and SEO performance. You likely won’t get 100% transfer, but you should see some carry over. Some people buy up the old domains – especially highly-ranked ones – simply to ensure that they will take up more of the search engine results page when potential customers are searching for their product or service. After all, if there are 10 results per page, and you only have one site, that leaves 9 spots open for competitors…but if you own the domains in five of those spots, you’ve cut your competition in half before the customer even clicks once. While effective, this can be a big undertaking and maintaining these secondary sites can be a lot of work. Be prepared if you go this route.
So, Do Extra Domain Names Improve SEO?
As with most things, the answer isn't black and white. Getting more domain names can help your website show up better on search engines if you do it the right way, but it can hurt your site if you don't. There are also other good reasons to have extra domain names, even if they don't directly affect search results. One important reason is to protect your business reputation by stopping others from using similar domain names. Another reason is to make sure you don't lose visitors who might mistype your website address. Also, having more domain names can give you more space on search result pages, making your website more visible. So, it's essential to think carefully and plan when deciding to get additional domain names, considering both your search engine goals and overall business strategy.
Best Practices With Extra Domains
While getting additional domains can help your overall online presence in a variety of ways, it’s NOT specifically necessary for your SEO performance. This is useful to keep in mind when you receive those spammy emails, trying to sell you domains similar to yours – they usually position themselves as experts who know the SEO value of their domain they are selling and promise you the world if you purchase it from them. Buying the extras can, at best, boost your SEO marginally (if you put in the work instead of simply forwarding the old domain to your main website), but at worst it can confuse both your customers (and the customers of the old domain) and Google. This would drop your rankings if too many spammy, unused domains point to your main website.
The best practice for extra domains is simple - scoop up the versions that end in .com, .ca, and maybe one more for your main website domain, and set those up to redirect to your main website of choice. That’s really it. Don’t complicate it. Don’t focus on leveraging lots of domains as part of any sort of powerful SEO strategy. Focus on optimizing your on-site SEO factors and creating a true backlink strategy instead.
It may seem like there’s a lot of information to know about extra domains – and SEO in general – and it’s because there is. If you’re having trouble understanding how all these pieces fit together, that’s what we’re here for! Contact us today for a consultation and a custom plan on how you can improve your SEO and your online reach.