I have two dumb SEO questions (thanks in advance for your responses):
1. My company has one website it's trying to promote, but also owns multiple other websites that each have extremely similar (but not identical) topical content. All of these sites are competing with each other in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and our 'secondary' sites are sometimes outranking our primary site for keywords we're tracking.
Should we 301redirect these pages to the relevant pages on our primary website? Or should we just add anchor links to pages on these secondary sites that point to relevant pages on the primary site (since they're already ranking well)?
I know that with a 301redirect, it's not guaranteed that the link equity/etc. will be passed to the new domain. These sites were created before I started and I'm not sure if it's fine to compete with ourselves in search engines as long as the user is getting a good experience, or if we're shooting ourselves in the foot by having multiple sites with similar content.
2. When publishing articles, would you prioritize one thorough piece that covers a bunch of specific sub-topics under an umbrella topic (ex. "Where To Buy Tools") or several shorter but still useful articles, each of which covers a more specific keyword (ex. "Where To Buy Hammers")?
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Combine & silo. Then one site to maintain and get links/content for. Better to have one strong domain than 3 weak ones.
Thanks a lot, James. The other sites haven't been maintained or updated in years but rank in positions 1-5 for many of the primary site's target/relevant keywords and phrases. When you say combine, does this mean we'd redirect the entire domain or do a 301 on a page by page basis? (I'm not sure if there's a difference).
James » Samantha
Yup that combined power will help the entire project. Combine and 301.
Appreciate your insights on this! Thank you.
Ammon Johns 👑
For me this all hinges on a true understanding of WHY the company "has one website it's trying to promote, but also owns multiple other websites that each have extremely similar (but not identical) topical content."
You absolutely need to learn the strategy or decision-making that was involved, and precisely who made that decision, what the plan was, and whether or not that plan has been abandoned or whatever. People don't tend to 'accidentally' create even one website, and certainly not multiple websites.
Because whatever that plan/strategy was, those websites competing against each other was absolutely a deliberate part of it. Without understanding why, it would be very easy to make bad decisions.
Absolutely. Great point. I won't be making any decisions without consulting with the people who signed off on this strategy. My preliminary suspicion is that they wanted to create keyword1dotcom, keyword2dotcom, etc. thinking that search engines would rank a site/page higher with the keyword in the name.
Ammon Johns 👑 » Samantha
One tactic some used in the past was to deliberately attempt to have multiple sites all have positions on the first page of a SERP, so that effectively any result people selected would eventually come to them, in one way or other.
That's what I suspect happened here. I'll need to confirm. If this is indeed the case, would you echo James's suggestion above of combining the sites (301s) and siloing the content? Or since 2-4 of these sites do tend to all appear on page one, it would be better to just leave them be (in which case, is there any point linking to the primary site from these other sites 'for backlink purposes' if users get the answers they're looking for)?
Ammon Johns 👑 » Samantha
Possibly. But that depends on whose idea it was, and whether they are still in the company, and whether there are internal political implications.
You need to know the strategy, the who and the why, so that you know whether this is something you need to discuss with someone, and if so who.
I'll look into it, and if I get a clear answer I'll probably come back here for guidance if you don't mind.
Ammon Johns 👑
To the broader question of strategies, well, there are many viable ones, and owning more than one site in a niche is still a very genuine one. Lots of very big, very respectable companies have multiple brands that ostensibly compete with one another, very deliberately. There's nothing wrong with the strategy itself, and is effectively just like a trainer or stables having more than one horse in the same race.
Sure, focusing all efforts on one single point of attack (one website to compete in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) getting all the links, content, resources the company can get it) makes for a more efficient use of resources, at least in a perfect world.
However, having multiple sites that use different strategies, or appeal to different segments or demographics in the market can sometimes be the more effective (and efficient) that trying to 'one size fits all' of a single offering. Then there's the ability to split-test entire strategies across those sites or subcompanies, resulting in them all competing to be ever more efficient than their sibling.
Definitely. One thing I'm trying to keep in mind is resources. Our 'secondary' sites are many years out of date and don't reflect modern on-page SEO best practices (you should see the keyword-stuffing) or brand standards, so they need a complete overhaul. I don't think we currently have the bandwidth to keep these sites updated on a regular basis. But the points you make could support a good argument to grow our team – being able to niche down, test and compare would be extremely useful.
Adam J. Humphreys 👑
I think you answered your own question in the first part around competition. Consolidate and have strong category descriptions. 301redirect to either the same page or one with the same relevant information. You will lose very little link equity if it's the same content and redirected properly. Page structure and content does matter though. Whatever you do make the right information easy to get to with little work. We are an instant gratification society.
Thanks a lot for your insights, Adam!
Google recommends to consolidate pages and content. So, you can use 301redirects and I can say it a good strategy. It works in many cases. But that's not an easy thing to do. Also it takes several months for Google to reevaluate the changes of a site. So, it will difficult to recognize that you're kind of on the right track. A split test doesn't help you because it is a business site that have to make money.
Anyway there is no detailed info to give an advice. You can redesign the main site and add anchor links to boost organic traffic traffic. This is why SEO is hard. You can't predict result. But you can follow recommendations 🙂
Your second question… both options work for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Again, it depends on the target audience, needs of your visitors, your SEO marketing strategy.