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I've a new customer who previously worked with a marketing agency that created landing pages for his marketing campaigns. Imagine the customer's main website running on example.org.

The agency created all their landing pages that serve as target of campaigns about topics which may be judged 'critical' in terms of SEO (sexual topics, medicinal topics, etc.) on a separate domain, e.g.:

  • Instead of running a marketing campaign about medicinal-topic-1 via a landing page hosted on example.org/medicinal-topic-1, they host that landing page with a brand new installation on medicinal-topic-1.example.

Their reasoning is that, if anything is judged as flagged / bad content in terms of SEO on medicinal-topic-1.example, that it won't affect the ranking on example.org.

Besides the obvious downsides of:

  • Needing to configure a separate server / server directory for every single landing page.
  • Needing to manage a separate WordPress installation for every single landing page (which is how they manage the content of their landing pages).
  • Losing your visitor's trust in your brand when they drop on a somewhat random domain instead of dropping on your example.org domain.
  • Data Tracking Configurations becoming an absolute mess due to this, especially with the upcoming third-party cookie deprecation.
  • Actually not gaining the traffic of your campaigns on your main website.

Is hosting this content on separate domains good practice to avoid bad content on landing pages hurting the SEO of the main site?

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    To put a name to it, this strategy is the "Private Blog Network" strategy. Mar 29 at 10:04
  • Is it really worth it the extra-effort, opposing all of the above-mentioned downsides and of course the extra-cost of management per additional domain? I cannot find any cool case studies / examples online..
    – DevelJoe
    Mar 29 at 17:29
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    You also need to worry about who owns the content. Is the SEO agency producing the content for you as a work-for-hire? Or are they planning to own the content and have it link to you only as long as you are paying for their services? I've seen SEO agencies want to host off-site content primarily for that reason, so it is something to watch out for. Mar 29 at 17:31
  • The thing is, it would be a PBN strategy if the landingpages had backlinks to the main website / domain. But the only link to the main domain they have is the one in the footer, about the root address example.org. Does that already go under PBN for you? Because they simply argued that they "have better click-through rates if the campaign target is a landingpage hosted on a separate domain, vs a subsite on the main domain, given the same content & page speed". That statement makes absolutely no sense to me.
    – DevelJoe
    Mar 29 at 17:34
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    I'm not sure how they would intend the landing pages to help SEO if they don't allow them to get indexed. Maybe these landing pages were print marketing campaigns? Or search engine marketing (keyword bidding) campaigns? For print marketing it makes tons of sense to create domain that people can type and get a nice landing page. Apr 4 at 17:08

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