How to Create Multiple Websites to Improve Your SEO
In previous chapters, we discussed the pros and cons of creating two websites, one for your blog, and one for your portfolio versus creating one single website to house all of your content. This section will discuss the strategy of going one step further and creating multiple websites to drive traffic to your business.
This is certainly not a strategy that I recommend for everyone, especially if you’re just starting out with your SEO implementation. Each of these sites will require setup, maintenance, and link building to be effective. However, creating multiple websites, each centered on a particular set of keywords can benefit your business and drive relevant traffic to your site.
To illustrate, I’ll review just one of about ten sites that we created for our studio.
Case Study: Palos-Verdes-Wedding.com
Palos Verdes is a beautiful coastal city with many high-end wedding venues in the Los Angeles Area. To target these venues, we created a website called Palos-Verdes-Wedding.com that features our weddings in each of the targeted venues.
Within this site, we are targeting many related keywords, including the following:
|Palos Verdes Wedding||90||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|Palos Verdes Wedding Venues||260||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|Palos Verdes Wedding Chapel||30||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|Wedding Venues in Palos Verdes||70||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|Terranea Wedding||260||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|Trump Palos Verdes Wedding||20||Avg. Monthly Searches|
So you’re probably asking yourself two things at this point: “Does it work?” and “Is it worth all of the time and effort?”
Whether this strategy works or not depends entirely on how much effort you put into the site. Simply buying the domain, installing a theme, and populating it with content is not enough. You have to continue to building links to the site and adding keyworded text and images. If you do these things, then yes, it would be worth the effort.
Benefits of Using a Multi-Site Strategy
Here are the primary ways you can benefit from these sites that we call “peripheral sites:”
Referral Traffic – Throughout the three years palos-verdes-wedding.com has been around, the site has referred over 3,000 visitors to our main site. While this number alone is not enough to propel your business to success, it is enough to justify the time spent creating the website, populating the content, and building links, especially when you start to add up the referral traffic from all of your peripheral sites. As mentioned, we created 10 of these types of sites, each one targeting a different city.
Increased Web Presence – Even if visitors to these sites are not clicking through to your main site, those visitors are still being exposed to your work. Let’s say that a user clicks on palos-verdes-wedding.com and browses through some of the images. Maybe the user never clicks through to our main site, but instead closes the window and visits an unrelated site. That brief bit of exposure to your our work is still incredibly valuable. When viewed enough times, a logo and style of photography will be recognized and remembered. It typically takes multiple interactions with a photographer’s work before a client is comfortable enough to book.
Presence on Other Search Engines – So far we’ve been talking almost exclusively about Google. However, there are other search engines with different algorithms. Bing, for example, puts more weight on the presence of keywords in the domain name than Google. So these peripheral sites gave us an opportunity to use keywords directly in the domain name. This is just one of the many differences between the two search engines, but the point is that your main site might rank really well in Google and not so well in Bing. Or your peripheral sites might rank well in Bing but not Google. Having multiple domains is like putting your eggs in many baskets, in that you are diversifying your sites, attacking different keywords, and ranking in different positions across search engines.
Increased Presence in Google Image Search – As we mentioned in our chapter on “Google Image Search,” image search results display images from a variety of domains. Very rarely do you see the top search results dominated by images from one single domain. Getting your images on multiple sites and working hard to get those images ranked will increase your chances of having multiple images in top placements of image search results.
Who Should Use This Strategy
Do If Experienced – You should only deploy this strategy if you’re well into your SEO journey. It doesn’t make any sense to focus your time and effort on multiple sites when your main site is not doing well in terms of SEO.
Do If Knowledgeable – You should also only use this strategy if you are very comfortable with all of the concepts taught in this book. You’re going to waste a lot of resources if you are using incorrect backlinking strategies, keyword research, etc.
Do If Time Permits – You should also only use this strategy if you have the time to do it. This strategy won’t work without link building and content creation consistency.
Do if You Have an Unlimited Domain Hosting Account & You’re Using WordPress – A standard Bluehost account has the ability to host unlimited domains. This makes it the perfect host to use when executing this strategy because you are able to keep costs low. Your only cost will be your time and the cost of the domain (around $15 a month). If you don’t have this option, then the costs will likely exceed the benefit and you would be better of spending your marketing time and money elsewhere. More information on hosting can be found at https://www.slrlounge.com/hosting
How to Execute the Multisite Strategy
Proper Keyword Research – Like most SEO concepts, this strategy starts with good keyword research. Ask yourself the same questions you asked yourself in the “Keyword Research” portion of this book. Make a list, narrow it down and select your final list of domains and keywords. We started about 10 of these websites and eventually cut about four of them because of low performance. The number of sites you start will depend entirely on the competitiveness of your area and the time you wish to invest in this strategy.
Buy Domains – Buy each of the domains that you want. I suggest buying at least 5 so that you can set up systems for populating content and building backlinks that apply to all websites. If you’re doing all of the work of creating one website, it only makes sense to apply the same procedure to multiple websites while you’re already at it.
Set Up Your Websites – Install WordPress on your domain and set up your theme. We suggest using the SLR Lounge WordPress Theme, but you can find many awesome themes across the web. You can repeat one theme across all of your websites if you would like to make things simple.
Populate the Content – Populate your content based on your targeted keywords. Be sure to use fresh images (ones that you have not yet blogged on your other sites). Also, be sure to use fresh, original content. In each of these articles that you write, be sure to link back to your main website, particularly to the contact form so that you open the door for a conversion.
Build Backlinks – Start building your backlinks using the same strategies outlined in the “Back Link” Section of this book. The awesome part about these keywords is that they will not likely be very competitive, so you can start to see results in very little time.
Continue on Schedule – Start a spreadsheet so you can track two things for all of your websites: backlinks and content. If you have found a great source of “do follow” backlinks, drive links to all of your peripheral sites from that website and track them on this spreadsheet. Once you’ve developed a substantial list and a consistent schedule, your backlinking process with become simplified. Also, use this same spreadsheet to track a content updating schedule for each of your sites.
Our Results and Status
I started this strategy around 5 years ago. During the first 2 years, I put a lot of work and effort into building backlinks and populating content. However, since Lin and Jirsa Photography is now well established in terms of SEO and marketing, I have taken my foot off of the pedal. I have not contributed to our peripheral sites or built backlinks to them in a long time. As a result, most of these sites have fallen in traffic and in referrals.
However, for the first few years of employing this strategy, we saw significant benefits. We booked clients who found us from image searches as a result of these sites, and we had clients directly discover us via organic search from these sites as well. Overall, it was well worth it. If we see a dip in business or simply want to aggressively focus on a particular city or venue, we might decide to start using some of these sites again to execute our plans. In the meantime, we still get a few dozen hits a month from each of these sites, just enough to justify keeping them afloat.