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I have a client who has many domain names. Their main domain name is the brand of the company. The other domains are, more or less, domains that match various keywords. I know exact match domains are no longer a benefit for SEO.

What my client is look to do is have each domain contain some content, maybe a bio on my client and possibly some other content, but the content would be limited. It would also contain a link to his main site.

If a person was the land on the page they would see the content but would be redirected to my clients main domain in thirty seconds (presumably via a javascript redirect.)

I believe this would have zero positive impact from an SEO perspective. So that leaves me with two questions:

  1. Am I correct that it has zero positive SEO impact?
  2. Could it have a negative impact for my clients SEO?
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    You are right. The first issue is that any domain cannot rank without a fairly significant amount of content that would have to be created. Just a few pages will not do it. As well, it is possible that these domains and links to the company site would be seen as gaming the SERPs especially with thin content. This would be a zero win scenario and maintaining and hosting several domain names could be costly- well beyond any value they could provide. – closetnoc Jun 11 '15 at 4:30
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    In fact, after re-reading the question, the redirect (as you describe it) would be the nail in the coffin. This would assure that the company domain is seen as a spammer and the company domain would see a significant drop in the SERPs and the additional domains would never rank. – closetnoc Jun 11 '15 at 4:37
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There are several issues you are dealing with.

Having more domains does not help with search traffic. As a concept, this notion can be thrown away. There is little exception to this rule.

Having sites with little or thin content can never rank. Search engines prefer sites with content. Spam sites have historically hosted thin content, link pages, and generally pages that have no real value. One indication of a site worth listing in the SERPs are sites with significant high value content that enjoys a fair amount of organic links, citations, and good SERP performance. For SERP performance, the number of pages that rank and have a good CTR (click-through rate) is an indication of a sites quality. Sites with little to offer cannot gain SERP performance metrics. Any site with just a few pages will never rank or possibly will never be listed in the SERPs or be dropped over time. It really is about capturing eye-balls- a marketing term similar to butts-in-seats- which indicates your ability to attract users/an audience. Since search engines are about providing quality resources, any under performing site would virtually disappear. Remember that Google is a business and gains at least 10 billion dollars per year just in search alone. It is very easy to erode search results so Google is very wary of any site that does not perform well or they cannot place a good bet on.

Search engines are suspect of spam sites of course.

Linking several thin content domains to a parent company site could easily be seen as gaming. One previous spam tactic was to create lots of domains with little to offer, but were designed to rank well for select terms that linked back to a parent site somewhere. One way to combat this was to simply dismiss any site with thin content. Another was to create relationships between sites and use semantics to determine if gaming was at hand. Even smaller efforts were a problem and so today, smaller efforts will be discovered- if not right away, then after short period of over time. Linking schemes are a real concern and so link patterns are examined within the realm of the related sites and anything suspect would be nipped in the bud quickly and quietly. Since the algorithm(s) for link patterns is/are rather sophisticated, any simple link scheme involving a smaller number of sites would be discovered quickly and dealt with.

Redirection was a common tactic used by spammers- especially in the early days. The most common trick was to register a large number of sites with small amounts of content designed to capture a specific set of keyword traffic then use redirects within the HTML to send the user to another site. This was a HUGE problem! Since at the time search engine spiders did not follow these redirects, these pages were indexed and the spam worked. Today Google knows how to find these types of redirects extremely well and advises strongly against using them. Since it is a legitimate tool for site owners to use, Google will not slap the wrist of everyone using it, however, couple that with several domains with thin content, then it is reasonable that Google will consider this to be one of the worse types of spam there is. Today, Google will not only recognize the code, but wait for the redirect giving a double-whammy detection scenario. This is a strongly inadvisable technique. A redirect of this type from sites with thin content would(!) negatively effect the performance of all the sites significantly and recovery would be slow- likely over a period of years.

Finally, there is the cost factor. While domain name registration and hosting can be seen as small money to some, there would be no return on the cost. For this to work, there would have to be significant content and content is expensive. Each site would have to be an honest one. I have always argued that with little exception multiple sites add no value and that generally speaking, one site would perform better than several. As stated, there are exceptions and generally these are related to topic more than anything else.

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According to:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721217

Your idea is bad. It specifically states

...some redirects deceive search engines or display content to human users that is different than that made available to crawlers.

It's a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a different page with the intent to display content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler.

The only way you should be doing automatic redirects is if:

  1. The page that initiates the redirect contains instructions to search engines not to index that page.

  2. Users land on a page that does not auto-redirect informing them of the automatic redirection that takes place on future pages when they are in the middle of reading text. That way, users have a chance to choose to continue or go back.

Easiest way to satisfy the 1st condition is to add the following between <head> and </head> of the page:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

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