Posted By Kenny McHoes, May 28, 2011

Multiple Domain namesI have seen on many occasions over my years of website development, clients who insist on purchasing multiple domain names in the hopes that their website will appear in search engines more often.

They purchase keyword targeted domains that describe their site and services and use them to try to direct more traffic to their main site. But what they do not realize is that this practice is actually damaging to one’s SEO presence.

Multiple Domains and Masking

A detrimental mistake that alot of people make when dealing with multiple domain names is the misuse of masking. Masking is an optional service that is offered by most domain registrars. What it does is allow a user to essentially forward their domain name to an existing website of their choosing. But what makes masking so special compared to normal domain forwarding, is that their masked domain replaces the original website name. It creates an illusion that it has an entire website built just for itself.

The Problems with Masking

What’s really happening with the masking is that the user is intentionally or even unintentionally, in the eyes of a search engine, creating duplicate websites. The first is their primary site, and masking an additional domain name creates a second site that uses all the existing content from their primary website (word for word). And if they have more than one masked domain names, then that means even more duplicated websites. Pretty soon this creates some serious and confusing problems with their page raking and sustainability on search engines.

sample The main problem that occurs from masking domain names is that if it is duplicating entire websites, it’s actually violating search engine guidelines. Search engines rely on unique content to populate their search results, and they look down upon people who try to trick their systems with duplicate data. When they do come across duplicate information spanning throughout two or more websites, they may think you are trying to manipulate their systems. They can then flag those websites as using “deceptive practices,” and remove them entirely from their search results.

Another issue of domain masking is that if a user has a secondary domain name that contains all the info from their primary site, they are essentially spreading their web traffic between the two. So instead of one website gaining page rank, the search engines may only index parts of each website and essentially they will be compete against each other for page rank.

Using Multiple Domain Names Correctly

There are a few ways to make multiple domain names work. If someone just want a a domain name to point to another website, they can use 301 redirects. They are SEO friendly and if used correctly, your search engine rankings should not be affected at all. There are many tutorials found online to set up a 301 redirect and they are fairly easy to set up.

I someone wants to actually have content directly related to a domain name, then their best bet is to create a separate hosting account for the domain name and write custom content. The only draw back to this is that there would be extra work to be done every time updates would be need to be made as the user would need to change the content on ywo websites rather than one.

The best bet for any website owner is just to concentrate on one. Make it the best they can and jam it with custom relevant content. If someone concentrates all their efforts on one website, the effort will pay off in the long run.

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3 Responses to “Multiple domain names can damage SEO.”

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