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I am working with a client who's read about satellite sites on a SEP book and has been building hundreds of keyword reach domains (buytoyotacorona1989cheap.com, brandnewsuvinred.com) with specific content about such domains. They all link to a main domain (CompanyName.com) where most of the information is either repeated(from other sites) or new.

I told him to drop all the other domains and only focus on building good content for the main site as it is too difficult to maintain so many websites, plus they might look like link farms to Google.

He told me to make a Google search for "Buy Toyota cheap " and two of his websites were listed among top 10.

So it's seem to be doing some good, but I get the feeling that what he is doing is wrong. What other arguments are there to discourage this practice? or is he doing the right thing?

My arguments have helped him to decide go down from hundreds to close to one hundred (because cost of maintainance) but I believe he should only have one or two sites.

PS: The business is not actually about cars.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here's everything I can think of. Most of these can be rebutted in some way, but I think you're right to pile on as many arguments as you can.

  • Google has stated that they are scrutinizing "exact match domains" so I would expect any change to be negative for his sites. This strategy may not survive 2011.
  • If you aren't careful, hosting, registration, and administrative fees can be similar to the same traffic produced from paid search.
  • Link building will become necessary for long-term success, and it is orders of magnitude more difficult with microsites (are you going to produce hundreds of infographics?).
  • You lose the positive benefits of whatever halo-of-trust (i.e. domain backlinks, etc.) your primary site enjoys.
  • You'll never be able to create as good of an end-user experience on hundreds of sites as you can by focusing dev effort on one, so your bounce rates will be high and you'll lose traffic as fast as you get it.
  • Domains like these look spammy to end-users (to convince him, fire up a UserTesting.com usability study of the SERPs where he appears and ask users what they think of his website). Users will filter out his pages, which will hurt his SERP CTR and as Google places more emphasis on this, he'll suffer.
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Some good points there. A lot of criticism has been levelled at google for this kind of spam, and I'm sure they will start cracking down on it soon. –  DisgruntledGoat Jan 16 '11 at 23:47
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The other big thing to remember is that if all of the sites share the same IP range they can look like a big crappy link wheel or link farm.

Satellite sites are not bad at all when handled correctly, but in this case the client is going overboard. They need to support every single site that they have up. By support I mean they need to have fresh content, build links, and have great information.

If they're going out and getting hundreds of these domains I doubt that's what they're doing.

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you can just do it with subdomains and save a ton of money. You can have cheaptoyotas.mydealership.com and cheaphondas.mydealership.com all with a landing page going back to your site.

The benefit of this is you can focus heavily on that page as a single site. So its keywords and content will not get diluted since its a one page site.

The drawback it can take a lot of time.

its a good approach to build these landing pages and use them for SEO and PPC .

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