From time to time clients ask me if its a good idea to buy up a pile of domains and point them all at the same website. What effect, they want to know, will this have on their seo. Since this question comes up regularly, but not often, I keep forgetting the answer – so here’s a blog post.
Having researched the issue (again) it seems that there are different answers to the question:
Have the domains ever pointed anywhere else? If they have, there can be a ‘carry over’ meaning that if they linked to a badly rated or even a site with a bad reputation (maybe badly built) the effect can be negative. The reverse can also be true – for a time. If the domains have never pointed anywhere else then there will be no effect.
Make sure the secondary domains redirected to the primary url. Imagine you have www,greatsocks.co.uk as you main domain and buy up www.fabsocks.co.uk and www.awesomesocks.co.uk If you then just point these secondary domains at the same site google (other search engines are available) will see duplicate content. IE www.greatsocks.co.uk/about and www.fabsocks.co.uk/about will be identical, but under different domains. You are very likely to be penalised for this – google will allocate a “preferred or canonical” domain, which oculd be different for each page – this potentially leads to your site being penalised for devalued internal linking. This is where the 301 redirect comes in. When your visitor types in www.fabsocks.co.uk they are re-directed to www.greatsocks.co.uk - so google et al do not see duplicate content. In technical terms – user a 301 redirect.
Don’t dilute external links.Another problem is that you dilute your external links. Ideally links pointing to your site will all point to the main domain. However, if you run a pile of different domains for the same content you can’t control so easily where the backlinks point to. This will then dilute the effectiveness of the links – you could have 2 to each of the three sock examples whereas you could have 6 back to the main one!
It can help when you have a difficult to spell url – or a business name with a hypen in for example
It can be useful to stop the competition getting the domain
So it looks like for most cases the benefits of having all the different domains are minimal. If you do, make sure they all point to the one, main domain. Make sure all you links to your site point to the main domain.
There are many sources but I used these for this short post: