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I have a website with software applications. Is it good for SEO to choose one keyword rich domain name for each of our software products or should we stick to a single domain?

From a user's perspective I think it would be easier to remember a domain that is keyword rich as the user will instantly know what this product is for.

But I have read articles that the latest trend in SEO is to stick to one domain for all of your products and invest on this single domain website.

Is that true? What do you advise? Should I register a separate domain for each of our products or should I use only one single domain?

Should I do a 301 redirect with a .htaccess to a single domain? And what about the sitemaps? Should I register all sites in Google Webmaster Tools and post a separate sitemap for each one of them? should my main site sitemap include all pages or should separate domains have their own sitemaps?

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2 Answers 2

In short, register all of the domains that you feel/think you need for your specific brands. If you don't it's much harder to get back the brand/domain because your competition has squatted on them. Don't register extra domains like TheBestProductEver.com because you will be penalized.

There are a few different reasons for things to keep in mind when we're doing all of this Internet planning. I'd like to make this technical, but in actuality we're talking about people, and people drive the Internet, so it is not complicated at all.

Step back

A search engine's ideal search is one where the person comes to their site, they search for a phrase, and the search engine delivers them the first result on top of the page, the person clicks, they go and stay on the site (because the site is what they were looking for) and then they go back and tell their friends "Hey use search engine X because I never waste time doing searches over there." This helps the search engines to maintain their [own] brand AND it also keeps down on overhead for them (if they're more successful, it's fewer wasted cycles for their equipment, etc, etc).

Multiple domain names for products

If we have a product, we'll call it Brand A, and a product Brand B and we're trying to tell who is interested in each product accordingly, in the marketing world, we use multiple domain names to track individual trends and product brand association. So we might have a domain for BrandA.com and a domain for BrandB.com because one of the most important things about branding is making sure everyone knows that the brand exists. If someone searches for the brand, the search engines will think that this is a good spot to send people because the investment has been made in covering the brand on this website and using a Bayesian approach most websites using a specific brand name are THE OFFICIAL SITE of the brand.

Also this keeps your competition from stealing your brand if you control the domains. So it's a no-brainer to keep those registered.

If you have a website that is all-encompassing and it covers every single brand that you have you are going to be alright if your site structure makes sense, and the pages pertaining to Brand A only focus on that brand, and likewise the pages for Brand B would focus on the specifics for its own brand.

SEO these days is much more of a social animal, so when someone visits your site, and the like Brand A and begin to follow everything about the brand, the search engines can see this and when that person searches for Brand A online, they can deliver what they think the user is looking for based on their previous search histories and their likes. This means that they can link directly to any page on your site where the users have said in mass this is THE PAGE for BRAND A.

When the social media outlets are all a flutter with talk about Brand A people will use specific keywords in context when they mention the brands. For the search engines, this makes it easy for the site to be validated for searches for those keywords, and also validated because now people are talking about the brand so it does indeed exist, and because it's multiple people sharing virally, now we know that it's something the they find interesting, and interesting things are always what people are searching for... a no-brainer for the search engine.

How do we track this stuff?

This is a two-sided coin. You can see all of the specific data per brand, but you have to split it apart for each division. If the company isn't big enough to have divisions per product line it can become overwhelming fast. When you have multiple domains and you're redirecting from one to another it becomes harder to tell where the original visitor came from unless you have access to all of the logs (or have your own custom tracking script). You can track with the same tracking code across multiple sites, but all of your analytics pile on top of each other. Everything from keywords, to country specific entry points, to languages, and browsers (especially if you're dealing with different demographics in terms of target market).

You can use something like Google Analytics and have a fulltime person who looks at all of this information, but basically they are compiling all of the info from the various inbound streams into a format that somewhat makes sense. It's sometimes difficult to tell what all of the inbound information on Google is in regard to the inbound streams because they limit things like the number of keywords, search dynamics, and phrases.

If you're hosting all of your brands on the same site, now you can't necessarily see all of the information about the individual brands because of information overload from the same domain. If you look for 100 keywords, do they keywords overlap for both main brands, do the target markets match? Is there a chance for conversion? Are the brands entirely unrelated? Are you sure you even want someone to know that the brands are related (eg. Deadly Bleach Chemicals and Baby Wash)? So there are a lot of questions from a social standpoint about how much information you want in one place as well. (And it depends on the individual markets.)

Research

This stuff changes on a monthly and weekly basis. The powers that be control the algorithms and trying to second guess what will make your sites rocket to the top can look a lot like an attempt to trick a search engine rather than a legitimate site. If you research what things are frowned on and make sure that your sites/employees/coworkers/subcontractors are not doing them, then you'll have a much better chance of not getting penalized by a machine running a new algorithm.

Final thoughts

My suggestion is rather than coming to a website and saying "How should we treat our brands." you should be asking yourselves, what can we be doing better in terms of branding? After all if you're spot on with your branding, the SEO is all done for you by social media and the search engines.

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Thank you, i think i will focus on branding. –  alexandertr Aug 13 '13 at 5:03

Branding, Creativity and Reputation

Sorry but your mistaken, this is exactly what Google is trying to address is businesses with no imagination or branding. Branding, Creativity and a place for people to shop in a one stop shop is the way forward in terms of building a long lasting business.

Google Dislikes Keyword Rich Domains

Google has addressed companies and still has a long way to go to stop this happening, one recent update this year was the EMD update and I believe there is man more updates of these nature to come - Google wants companies building brands, not silly little keyword rich domains.

Also, managing one stop shop is easier for adwords and generating leads though Google shopping results and again, when I shop online I remember 'Company Names' like ebuyer, thehut, scan etc.. I never remember keyword rich domains, or maybe that's because I don't order from them - but again, I believe in company sustainability and a company and depending on niche with a keyword domain is just boring.

SEO links

SEO is a lot easier when you have a brand, Google uses citations as well as backlinks as indicators, NAP (Name Address and Phone Number) can help your national rankings and this can be broken down, to just N which means people buzzing about your unique company name can even promote your rankings. Additionally links that have buyascooteronline will likely be deleted by site admins, and also the more pages and content you have the likely hood is that you will receive links from other pages that will ultimately help the whole site.

Anchor Keywords

The biggest problem with the EMD update is that you run risk of being slapped before you start, and if people link to you with the anchors with your business name you might feel the wrath of penguin, it used to be that if you had a domain that was rich in keywords and those keywords were spammed all over the net then you couldn't be touched because how to do you derank someone for their business name, well now Google has taken a different stance and it can hurt you.

Just 2 Cents

It's worth mentioning that a lot of what I've said is based on personally opinion, but from working with my clients, I can tell you that the ones with branding are moaning less than the ones with EMD domains. EMD is a fact, through I know still many are purchasing keyword domains, I advise businesses what is best for them and saying EMD is better than branding would be a fact as in incorrect, also you need to guess what Google is planning next and I believe as mentioned earlier there's more updates to the EMD to come because people are not getting the idea.

Just my 2 cents ;_)

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Thank you for informing me about this ! –  alexandertr Aug 13 '13 at 5:02

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