Ask ten SEO professionals whether it’s better to have all your content on one site or split it up, and you’ll get eleven answers (yeah, I’m usually able to see both sides of things and offer both opinions accordingly!)… Yet under certain circumstances, it just makes a great deal of sense to go with multiple web sites. Done right, the payoff can be huge. It’s a great way to control some of the back-link numbers.
Yet to me, it’s not just about building links. With the right client (read that someone with deep pockets who trusts your recommendations), it’s an opportunity to get even more value. Much more…
For those of you who are not familiar with the process, what I’m talking about here is where your client has one main web site, and X number of “micro-sites” or “satellite” sites. Or in some cases, a number of very large web sites that all drive traffic to the main site or to each other, depending on your needs and the scope of the client’s offerings.
Shameless Side Note: if you Sphinn this article, I’ll be your BFF!
Mesothelioma Clients Are Manna from Heaven
One of the first times I had an opportunity to create a multi-site strategy was back in November of 2006. I was brought on board to help take a legal web site and lift it up from the 15th page of Google. For those of you who have never heard of mesothelioma, let alone why it’s such a hot-button market for SEO, let me just say this:
CPC up to $98
1 Conversion can net $2,000,000 revenue for the site owner
Gray Hat – Black Hat Competition
Given the stakes in this arena, my initial analysis found all sorts of methods and techniques being used by the big players, and they’d been doing it for several years. Lots of gray hat methods. And so much black hat going on it makes my head spin. (Not that I’m complaining – I don’t do drugs anymore, so I kinda like the head rush…)
A Real Challenge
My task then, was a real challenge because competitors had been doing SEO for years. And they all have deep pockets. And I wanted to find a way to overcome the longevity issue, and surpass them without using black hat. So I had to formulate a sound method that would stand the test of time and ongoing heavy competition.
Results Even a Mother Could Be Proud Of
I’m happy to say that as a result of my multi-site strategy, within just a short order, my clients were showing up on the first page of Google for a few of their most valued phrases. In fact, to this day, we still own the #1 and #2 positions for those same exact phrases. Even though all the while, the competition has not let up on their efforts.
Since then, we’ve also gotten up there for several other important phrases. And a number of other clients in different industries and markets have come along where I’ve been able to apply and build on those same key concepts.
Square Pegs Don’t Fit In Round Holes
One size does not fit all in this process. Every client is going to be different, so the type of niche sites you suggest they build (and thus you get to optimize) will vary greatly. For companies that have a multi-regional, national or international reach, the obvious opportunity here is to have a site set up for each of several geo-locations.
Or if the company has X number of divisions or departments, perhaps you set up a site for each of those. Does your client have five major services they offer? Well heck, that’s six web sites, plus a blog of course, just waiting to be optimized and cross-linked!
The whole concept here is that if you do the footwork, and you can get buy-in from your client, with enough time and leverage, you can (pretty spectacularly in some cases), end up with several highly optimized, highly authoritative web sites, and all passing quality link value. (No I didn’t say link juice, because I don’t drink that Kool-aid thank you very much…)
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Before you embark on such an endeavor, there are a number of key points that need to be thought through; else you end up in the black-hat arena… And surely, you’re of the same mind-set as I am, and wouldn’t ever consider violating the cardinal rule of client services business ethics, right?
So here then, are eight of the most important key points to building multiple niche sites and taking control of at least part of your back-links…
1. Key Player Buy-In
Just because you see the potential value (back-link or otherwise) in having eighteen highly optimized web sites out there promoting your client offerings doesn’t mean they do. Or that their VP of marketing does. Or that their development team is up to the task when it comes to execution.
So the first thing you need to do is map out your vision, gather supporting information, and present a plan to your client that they can buy in on. You’ll need to be well prepared to answer any questions that get thrown your way, especially if their head of Marketing is just knowledgeable enough about SEO to be dangerous.
You’ll also need to have a specification document prepared that the developer(s) can execute – especially if there’s any way to automate aspects of the seeding, and making the content management as effortless as possible.