One Website or A PBN?
Lots of local businesses ask about the feasibility of building multiple websites to target different locations. This used to be our standard advice when a basic site with an exact match domain name was all that was required to rank well. However, it’s no longer so clear cut and, in most cases, promoting one single site across multiple locations can make a lot more sense.
Let’s look at an example. A courier company with three city bases might have set up separate websites targeting each local office, using domains like www.courierliverpool.co.uk and www.couriermanchester.co.uk. All of the content on each of these websites could be locally-targeted, with branding kept consistent across all the sites. Nowadays, though, it makes more sense to create one awesome website with different pages targeting each of the local offices. That way, linking to and content boosting the authority of this one awesome site will benefit all of the individual locations, rather than having to raise the authority of a number of separate websites.
Therefore, the most common approach is to simply create new pages on the existing website, which are targeted at each of their locations. As well as saving time and effort, this approach has additional benefits:
1. The new pages are part of a well-established website, taking some benefit from existing PageRank, domain age and authority, whilst also making the existing website more authoritative because it has more content.
2. Being part of a larger website gives these pages more credibility, increasing conversion rate and sales.
3. Link-building and off-site promotion can be directed at just one domain rather than being split.
One case where we opted to combine a number of microsites was for a large global eCommerce store with eight separate country level microsites. The headache they had was optimising and promoting eight different websites and rewriting content for 750 products across each of these sites to avoid duplicate content. They also wanted to make each website multilingual, so would need to get each website’s content translated separately. That’s 750 products, written up eight different times, each being translated in four languages. Nightmare.
In this situation, we opted to amalgamate the local websites into one global website. This website automatically detects the country each visitor is in and shows them the local prices for the products and the local contact information as well as using their native language, although this can be switched. Each of the existing country specific domains were directed at the new website, making the visitor transition seamless. The team now has the far simpler task of keeping one website updated and the link-building work doesn’t need to be spread across eight different websites.
Multiple microsites can still be a good option for businesses that have distinct customer groups or entirely separate products that don’t share an audience. However, in most SEO cases these days, it makes sense to combine, rather than divide.
A dental client we have in Birmingham is an example of a time when having separate websites actually makes more sense. As well as their dental practice, they also own a cosmetic enhancement clinic. In this case, we opted to keep the dentistry and cosmetic enhancement websites completely separate, as the dental practice was mainly targeted at families whilst the cosmetic clinic had a completely different target audience. In order to laser (no pun intended) target each website to their respective audience, the imagery, language and target keywords needed to be completely separate and the most effective way to do this was by having two distinct websites.
The obvious downside of this approach is that it involves a lot more work. Text needs to be completely rewritten for each of the sites to avoid duplicate content issues (covered later on), whilst the business has the job of maintaining and building links to two websites.
So, the decision to microsite or not to microsite really depends on the specific case. If it’s possible to logically combine everything onto one website, that’s the easiest and most efficient way to do it. However, if the customer groups are distinct or the messaging needs to be different, separate microsites can still be the best way to go.