Hosting multiple websites on different domains can be a great strategy or a poor strategy for SEO.
Most of the reasons for having multiple sites are more related to business decisions or best practices, such as grouping products into one customer group or splitting them across sites to help users find content as quickly as possible.
However, when discussing multiple sites, a common question, "Is it good or bad for SEO?"
Unfortunately (and arguably luckily, depending on how you look at it), there is no right answer to this question. There are pros and cons to having multiple sites and having a protective site to protect site content.
To make this easier to understand, let's explore the strengths and weaknesses of SEO and look at best practices for multiple sites. Matching Searcher Intent
Using the Advantages
of Multiple Sites Multiple sites are beneficial to users, especially companies with different brands or offering different products/services.
If you have a group of companies, each with a different website, then it most likely makes sense to have a separate domain name for each company/brand. However, the most useless thing to do is to release each company's individual services or products into different domains.
Shutterfly is an excellent company with multiple websites, ideal for both users and SEOs.
Shutterfly breaks down each company into different domains and links them together. This allows users to easily navigate each website, and if a company decides to use one website or domain for all brands, there won't be so many options.
You also want to make sure that each site is optimized not only for search engines, but also for users. When someone searches, if they come to a clear and concise site, that solves the searcher intent. However, if the site is not optimized for searcher intent, then they will go to other sites, which increases the site's bounce rate and may affect the site's ranking.
Get more Google ad placements
There are other benefits besides giving searchers a clearer product/service match. A site or multiple sites with less competition can also help you take up more Google ad placement with other sites or domains that target similar keyword phrases for different unique content.
A good example would be if you have a combination of sites/brands targeting similar keyword phrases, but you offer different services to meet searcher intent. It makes more sense to separate them into different websites than to make a protective brand with a service dropdown or something like that.
Unless there is no competition in the market, for a keyword phrase, Google is more likely to place two different domains in the SERPs than to place two URLs from the same domain in the SERPs for one keyword phrase.
Don't worry if you're in a more competitive market - as long as you have strong backlinks to all your sites, you can still maintain a competitive edge.
Let's go back to Shutterfly - they also have a company called Wedding Paper Divas. The two companies offer different products, but they do some business, such as "wedding invitations."
If you search for that keyword phrase, you can see it on the Shutterfly and Wedding Paper Divass internal category pages, where the keyword phrase is listed (Shutterfly in position 3 and Wedding Paper Divas in position 4.)
Shutterfly offers wedding invitations because telemarketing list it More product/service focused, so merging WeddingPaper Divas into Shutterfly domain is inappropriate. That way, they get access to Google's ad slots.
This is a great example of capturing more Google ad placements with two different brands owning different domains. Even for a very competitive keyword (expected 301,000 monthly searches), Shutterfly was able to rank in the top 10, according to Ahrefs, with a link profile score of 1,413 for Shutterfly and 57,934 for Wedding Paper Divas.
Without such a strong link profile, they wouldn't be able to rank so high for such a competitive keyword.
Duplicate content (sometimes helpful)
is less common, but many combinations of multiple sites (such as online retailers) retail products and product categories on multiple sites. If you combine all content into one website - products and product categories (same for each domain name), it creates the problem of duplication of content. You need to integrate these products or product categories, which can be difficult and time-sensitive.