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First, consider the following scenario:

ServiceCompany and ProductCompany are two unrelated single-owner companies selling different solutions to their customers. They decide to help each other and create a parent company named ParentCompany which will be a mutual brand between both child companies.

Both ServiceCompany and ProductCompany will both continue to sell their original solutions, but they will be a part of ParentCompany and refer work to each other as a result.

Now, onto the SEO question:

Which would be most beneficial in terms of SEO? (Let's assume neither of the child companies have an existing website or SEO history.)

Option 1. Create ParentCompany.com and display information about both child companies (blog about both, provide information and calls-to-action for both, etc.)?

Option 2. Create ServiceCompany.com and ProductCompany.com and individually market their services?

Option 3. Create the subdomains Service.ParentCompany.com and Product.ParentCompany.com and treat them as different websites.

Ideally, it would be nice to have a Parent website which encompasses all that the child companies offer because of the ability to build and manage a single website to handle both. However, would having two unrelated solutions on a website cause problems or additional obstacles in the SEO process?

  • Option 4. Create ParentCompany.com, ServicesCompany.com, and ProductCompany.com. Parent company is about the parent company and links to both the service company and product company which also link to each other. – closetnoc Oct 25 '15 at 21:26
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As @closetnoc points out

"Option 4. Create ParentCompany.com, ServicesCompany.com, and ProductCompany.com. Parent company is about the parent company and links to both the service company and product company which also link to each other.

Major brands do this frequently.

From an SEO perspective, it's likely any "competition" sites had with each other would be leveled out by linking the products and services together appropriately. With three websites, you are increasing the chance that someone may see or choose one of your websites that also offers links to another product or service that may have been deemed "less relevant" in the current search results.

[W]ould having two unrelated solutions on a website cause problems or additional obstacles in the SEO process?

It depends on what you mean by "problems". The issue that I might see is simply how a website and it's services under subdomains are ranked. For instance, if you just type "google" into Google or Bing, you see none of it's subdomains on either first page (though Bing does start listing them on page 2). But YouTube.com appears on the first page of both.

  • Nice point about sub-domains!! It had not occurred to me. Two thumbs up even if it only allows only one up-vote! – closetnoc Oct 26 '15 at 2:03
  • @closetnoc Yeah, I think it's something that doesn't always comes to mind. It wasn't obvious to me at first either. =P – Anaksunaman Oct 26 '15 at 2:22
  • Subdomains are hit-or-miss in most cases. Sometimes, I think they are manually indexed or not by Google. For example, subdomain hosting sites (such as wordpress.com) do not pass their DA onto their subdomains. I'll give this question a couple more days before accepting this answer. Nice answer though! – Wes Foster Oct 27 '15 at 18:49
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would having two unrelated solutions on a website cause problems or additional obstacles in the SEO process?

Yes, actually it would. You'd be trying to hit on two totally different sets of keywords and diluting your site's "link juice". If you set up "Option 4" as mentioned earlier you could actually do much better. Because then servicescompany.com, productcompany.com and parentcompany.com can share their link juice with each other and improve your ranking for all sites.

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