Unless you approach things with a strategy in mind, migrating multiple websites to a single domain can be an SEO disaster waiting to happen. At Hallam, we’ve worked with many businesses that have experienced a significant drop in website traffic after a migration. Because they failed to take various SEO factors into consideration, not only did their traffic volumes drop, but their organic search rankings also took a hit:
Why Businesses Migrate Websites to a Single Domain
If you maintain multiple websites, you may already have questioned the feasibility of migrating all of them into a single domain. Some businesses market multiple brands. Coca-Cola, for example, markets Fanta and Sprite separately. Other businesses, such as Virgin, target multiple sectors – travel, finance, media etc.
In such cases, separate dedicated domains are necessary for specific consumer targeting. However, if you have dedicated websites for individual products and services targeting similar markets, there are several reasons why you may want to consider migrating these to a single domain.
Updating and maintaining multiple websites requires much more time and effort than just one domain. Search engines value fresh content on websites, so it is extremely important to keep them updated on a regular basis, both in terms of design and content. A good way of providing fresh content can be through a blog, but generating new ideas for blogs across several different websites at least once a week will take time.
If you have multiple websites, you may be tempted to save time through publishing the same blog post or product page across your domains. Google, though, would recognise this as duplicate content. As duplicate content can result in a poor user experience, Google has been known to penalise sites that fail to create unique and useful content. Rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple domains, focus your time and effort on regularly creating high quality content for one site.
Unless your websites focus on very distinct products or services, you’ll likely be targeting similar keywords. This can be a problem, as the sites will compete with each other to rank in the search engine results. Consequently, they may each rank lower. Competing with your rivals is hard enough; don’t add to your problems by competing with yourself.
Links and Domain Authority
The number of authoritative inbound links to your site is a major ranking factor. These are links on high quality and relevant third-party web pages that point to a page on your website. The more of these you have, the better your website will rank. Building links to multiple websites is much harder than building links to a single site. On top of this, the power of the links are will be diluted across multiple websites, A single domain, though, could accumulate much more authoritative power.
The most successful brands are those that communicate messages of honesty and transparency on their websites. If users see your business listed across multiple websites, they may question who they’re really be doing business with, which could impact how much they trust your website.
Once you’ve reviewed your competitors and weighed up the pros and cons of migrating your multiple websites to a single domain, there are various SEO factors to consider to avoid issues such as drops in traffic and rankings.
Planning The Migration
Understand Your Website
Once you have defined your objectives and time scales, be sure to crawl your current websites with tools such as Screaming Frog or Moz’s Crawl Test. There’s a good chance that URLs will change once the migration has taken place, so you will need to inform search engines of these changes with permanent 301 redirects.
By crawling your current websites, you’ll be able to map all of the pages that will require redirects. This will not only help prevent drops in traffic and rankings, but also retain any high quality back links that are currently pointing to these pages. This will take away the daunting task of building up your domain authority from scratch.
As well as planning your required 301 redirects, it’s also important to identify any weaknesses with your current websites to further improve your search market visibility. Using the professional website crawl tools as mentioned above with the Google Search Console, you can take a look behind the scenes of your current websites to identify any road blocks that may be limiting your visibility in search engines. Potential issues can include:
- Missing or duplicated Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, H1 Tags, and Image ALT Tags
- Mobile usability issues
- Duplicate content
- Pages that are currently not indexed by Google
- Broken links/404 pages
- Missing XML sitemap
Map Your Content
Consider where your current content will sit on your new domain. Using Excel or Coggle, you can map out a new website taxonomy to make sure that you’re not missing key pages. In doing this, you may even identify new content opportunities for driving additional traffic. You can also use your Google Analytics data to identify the most popular landing pages on your current websites to help you structure content on your new website accordingly with your developer.
After migration has taken place, it’s important to keep an eye on the search performance of your new website. First, make sure that you submit a XML Sitemap of you new website through the Google Search Console. This will ensure that your content is crawled and indexed sooner rather than later. Additionally, be sure to keep checking Google Analytics to monitor incoming traffic, while Google Search Console will flag any page crawl errors and mobile usability issues. If you currently have an SEO strategy in place, it’s also critical to monitor your keyword rankings following the migration to identify any significant drops.
If you’re considering migrating multiple websites to a single domain, call us today on 0800 622 6100 to find out how we can help.