Recently, I started working with a new client (let’s just call him “Bob”) on an inbound marketing strategy for his business. When we first began talking, Bob explained to me that he owns multiple domains and has several websites.

To protect the innocent, let’s pretend he owns a staffing firm located in East Internet (no such city!) Ohio that specializes in placing circus performers. Bob’s main website is at but he also has other industry- and geo-targeted websites including:


In addition, he owns lots of other domain names that are currently set to redirect to his main site. He’s done all of this under the belief that the more websites he has, the better his chances of getting found online.

Bob’s intentions are great, but the truth is that all of these websites will, eventually, be the death of his online business. This scenario is more common than you think, and there are plenty of business owners, like Bob, who believe that having multiple websites under different domain names will help them rank better in search engine results.

There are several reasons that having multiple websites is a bad idea. Here are four of them: 

1) Time and Effort

One of the most common complaints we hear from clients is that they don’t have enough time to keep their website up to date, both in terms of the design of the site itself and the on-page content. The truth is that most businesses don’t have webmasters and most small business owners aren’t marketing or web design experts. If they even know how to update their site (and believe me, many do not!), they are too busy running their business to keep up with it.

Consider the issue of website design. The technology that powers the internet is constantly changing and what works today will most likely be out of date next year. It’s kind of like buying an iPhone. As soon as you get what you think is the “latest model,” a newer, faster, better version is released!

Case in point - sites built just five years ago are already out of date because they aren’t responsive and don’t adjust to display properly across multiple devices. Building a new site or redesigning an existing site can be both time consuming and expensive and when you multiply this across several websites, the cost can quickly kill your budget.

Your website’s design isn’t the only thing that takes time and effort to keep updated. With search engines increasingly rewarding sites that have fresh, keyword-rich content, a site’s on-page content also requires regular attention. An easy way to do this is to add a blog and to post regularly, but blogging (while incredibly valuable from an SEO standpoint) can be time consuming especially when you consider the amount of data that proves the more you blog, the faster your web traffic will grow.

While there is no doubt you’ll get better results from blogging 5 times a week than once a week, this also means putting in five times the effort. Now multiply that effort by the number of websites you have and you see the problem. The truth is, you are better off blogging 5 times a week on one website than once a week on five different sites.

2) Duplicate Content

Don’t think you’ll save time maintaining multiple websites by posting the same content on each site. Although this might seem like a great way to improve your SEO, search engines like Google see duplicate content as creating a poor user experience and as a result, they’ve adjusted their algorithms to penalize it.

What does this mean for you? Both of your sites on which the content appears will rank lower in search engine results – exactly the opposite of what you were hoping to achieve in the first place! The fix? Either create multiple sites each with their own unique content (see the problems listed under “Time and Effort” above) or concentrate your efforts on building and maintaining one really great website with top notch content.

3) Search Engine Ranking

Let’s say you DO have the time and energy to build and maintain more than one website and you put the effort in to ensuring there is no duplicate content. It’s still not a great idea to have multiple sites because they will compete with each other to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Unless your sites are for very distinct business lines or products, odds are that you’ll be using the same or very similar keywords across both websites.

Using Bob as our example, he has pages on “circus staffing” on both and and as a result, the two sites will compete for attention when someone searches using this term. Bob (and you!) would be better off focusing his SEO strategy on one site to which he could drive all of his traffic.

Additional problems may crop up if you decide to list your multiple websites on Google+ Local (formerly Google Places). Google frowns on businesses having slightly different names but essentially the same services, location, telephone, etc. And, if you have the same contact information across multiple websites, you risk duplicates and merges in the Google+ system than can really harm your ability to rank.

In Bob’s case, although his websites appear to be for “Bob’s Staffing” and “Ohio Circus Staffing” (two very different names), they both list the same business address and phone number. This is sure to cause him problems with his Google rankings.

Another key SEO consideration is link building. When search engines decide where to rank you in search results, they consider several factors including the number of inbound links to your site. Inbound links (also referred to as back links) are hyperlinks on third-party web pages that point to a page on your site. The more of these you have, the better your site will rank.

Because links are so valuable, many businesses put a lot of time and effort into “link building” – the process of getting other sites to link to yours. This takes time, which is something most businesses don’t have a lot of. Bottom line? You’re better off putting your effort into getting 1000 quality links to one website than 100 links each on 10 sites separate sites.

4) Customer Confusion

Let’s go back to our example of Bob. What happens when one of Bob’s potential customers is researching staffing firms online and comes across as well as If they visit both sites, they are going to notice a lot of similarities, but they might not be sure if it’s the same company.

The potential for confusion is pretty large but even more dangerous is the potential loss of trust. With 9 out 10 people beginning their search for goods and services online, your presence on the web plays a big part in attracting potential customers.

The most successful online brands are those that seem honest, transparent, and genuine. If those prospects see your business listed under multiple websites, they may question who they will really be doing business with. Not a great way to build a strong and lasting customer relationship!

A Better Approach

Rather than waste a lot of time, effort and money building and maintaining multiple sites, dedicate yourself to making one website that really stands out with an updated design, fresh content, high quality inbound links, and branding that conveys honesty and a genuine corporate personality.

What to do with all those other URLs you’ve purchased? Place a 301 redirect on them and point them to your main site. The code “301″ redirect is interpreted as “moved permanently” by the search engines and will ensure that any website traffic your URLs generate is directed at your main site.

The post originally appeared on the Quintain Marketing Blog. Quintain Marketing is a HubSpot Partner Agency located in Annapolis, MD.


Originally published Mar 18, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated October 16 2023


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