Recently Google’s Matt Cutts announced what has been labeled as an EMD (exact match domain) update. This adds to the list of Google updates this year, but also brought a lot of questions regarding the benefit of having multiple domain names (for the lay person www.something.com) pointing to a single set of web content… well lets catch you up on that!
The first thing to remember is that everything has changed since 5 years ago when it was acceptable to have masked domains, or sites that “jump” a user from one site url to another that was not intended. This practice was called splash pages, doorways, and many other terms, but regardless of what you call it, Google hates them and will penalize you for using them.
With that out of the way, it is still important to have multiple domains pointing to a single site for many reasons (the below being a few):
- Miss Spelled / Closely spelled Domains – This is an even more important concept to employ with the increases in browser functionality to auto complete URLs as you type them, or to simply catch people that misspell your companies name. An example is done by Microsoft with Bing. https://www.bings.com takes you automatically to https://www.bing.com.
- Regional Specificity – Using the different regional domain extensions (.ca .us .ag etc) is important when you truly provide a global presence. Having users get to their regional specific site is still a great reason to use different domains.
- Exact Match domain entry – This is when someone “guesses” at your site name. For instance may want to find Samsung. Naturally you would go to your browser and enter Samsung.com… this is an exact match. So, using a good search term.com is still a good idea. This is the one that Google focused on in their last update.
So now you are saying “Great I can Use them, but does that mean I have to manage content across two sites?” or worse “Crap, How do I fix what my old web strategy guy setup with 50 domain names that duplicate my content or jump people incorrectly?”. Well, start by getting your current web management people involved. Call them, email them, Skype them, send smoke signals, whatever you need to do to get them talking to you again.
Then simply put use 301 redirects. 301 redirects are a standardized way to forward an entire domain, and all of it’s “link juice” to another place permanantly. So you can simply say forward everything from www.somewhere.com to www.someotherplace.com or more strategically like www.somewhere.com/services to www.someotherplace.com/services. I prefer the second method if your “bad site” has good value for specific pages.
There you go… don’t use them, watch Google’s EMD updates for more revisions, and contact your geeky web nerds to fix the problems… or (wait for the shameless plug) contact us!