This Common SEO Tactic could kill your business
As business owners, we focus on growing our business. The cost of hiring an in-house experienced marketing/SEO/Web designer can be daunting for small to medium sized business owners.
It usually makes more sense financially to outsource to a marketing company. From million dollar marketing companies to small freelancers, I have seen this tactic played out too many times. Of course, with any tactic, there are many pros and cons.
COMMON SEO TACTIC: Creating another branded website for marketing /SEO purposes
This common SEO tactic starts off by creating another website and domain completely unrelated to the main company website. These are also known as “micro sites”.
Oftentimes, the website will look horrendous to reduce development costs and the spelling and grammar will also be below par.
On a fairly frequent basis, I come across new clients that have had YEXT or WEB.com create “micro sites”. Not only do they create tacky websites, they will even ask for control of your Google Business page and point everything to that site, thereby losing traffic to the real site. On top of that, the content on the website will be duplicated across hundreds of other “micro sites” they create that happen to be in the same niche or industry. A site I reviewed yesterday even had contact forms that did not work!
Why you should NOT create a secondary branded website
In this case, the cons certainly outweigh the benefits. I have seen businesses held hostage to pay month after month because a marketing company built up the SEO value of the secondary site (that their client does not own) much higher than their main website (that the client does own). All SEO work should only be done on domains that the business OWNS.
- The secondary website begins to outrank your main website and competes with your site for the same keywords. This cannibalizes traffic. If the main business’s website has little to no SEO, the “new” site could easily outrank it and users will think that is the company’s main website. Since these types of websites are usually thrown together haphazardly, the poor design could even deter leads.
- Having a secondary website with your business’s name, phone #, and address could VERY easily cause NAP issues across the internet. Various online directories and listing services
could create business listings that have the secondary branded website URL instead of the main company’s website. This has the very real potential of harming your local SEO results.
For one client, this tactic by their prior SEO company resulted in hundreds of business listings that pointed to the wrong website. When they requested to leave that marketing firm, they gave the same domain / URL to another client in their industry. Now when users search for their business name, this secondary website (that no longer has their information) still pops up.
- Since creating Google Business Listings is a MAJOR influence in local SEO results, inexperienced or shady marketing companies will create duplicate Google Business Listings that point to the secondary domain. This is harmful because many other data sources will scrape Google for data and continue to spread the wrong domain information to other sources.
- Perhaps just as bad or even worse than above, if they create a YELP profile that has the secondary domain information, other popular sites such as BING that uses YELP as a data source, will also create listings with this wrong information.
- If the marketing company that performs all these unwise tactics disappears (happens more than you think!), you are going to have a very difficult time correcting all the errors.
It took us 4 months to fix all the errors for one client…and that was WITH the cooperation of the prior marketing company! Local SEO rankings immediately skyrocketed afterward.
- You can find more technical reasons not to run micro sites in this article by SERPs, a SEO software company.
When would creating another branded website make sense?
It might make sense if you want to highlight one of your services and build a new website around that. For example, if you offer 10 different services and find that “photo booth rentals” is becoming extremely popular, it might make sense to create a new domain and website for that service, even if the name, address, and phone# are the same. In my opinion, if your main website is already ranking for related keywords, you are better off optimizing your current site rather than start from scratch.
In my opinion, if your main website is already ranking for related keywords, you are better off optimizing your current site rather than start from scratch.
If you still decide to go with this tactic:
- Ensure the secondary website looks presentable (it’s your image at stake)
- Use a forwarding phone number
- Do not post your actual address unless absolutely required
- Ensure you have control of any email addresses posted on this website
- Ensure they do not create business listings with your actual business name
- Ask what happens to that website and domain/URL if you end your contract with them in the future.
If they cannot give a straight answer or they plan to resell it to someone else, good luck!
- If there are any links from the secondary site to your main site, ensure you use “no follow” links.
There are many more common SEO tactics we should all avoid.
Got one? Comment below!