Best practices for running multiple sites

Monday, November 01, 2010

Running a single compelling, high quality site can be time- and resource-consuming, not to mention the creativity it requires to make the site a great one. At times–particularly when it comes to rather commercial topics like foreign currency exchange or online gambling–we see that some webmasters try to compete for visibility in Google search results with a large number of sites on the same topic. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering a strategy like this for sites that you want to have listed in our search results.

Some less creative webmasters, or those short on time but with substantial resources on their hands, might be tempted to create a multitude of similar sites without necessarily adding unique information to any of these. From a user's perspective, these sorts of repetitive sites can constitute a poor user experience when visible in search results. Luckily, over time our algorithms have gotten pretty good at recognizing similar content so as to serve users with a diverse range of information. We don't recommend creating similar sites like that; it's not a good use of your time and resources.

4 sites showing the same content

While you can run as many sites as you want, keep in mind that users prefer to see unique and compelling content. It is a good idea to give each site its own content, personality and function. This is true of any website, regardless of whether it's a single-page hobby-site or part of a large portfolio. When you create a website, try to add something new or some value to the Internet; make something your users have never seen before, something that inspires and fascinates them, something they can't wait to recommend to their friends.

When coming up with an idea for a website, scan the web first. There are many websites dealing with common and popular services like holiday planning, price comparisons or foreign exchange currency trading. It frequently doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel and compete with existing broad topic sites. It's often more practical and rewarding to focus on smaller or niche topics where your expertise is best and where competition for user attention might be less fierce.

A few webmasters choose to focus their resources on one domain but make use of their domain portfolio by creating a multitude of smaller sites linking to it. In some situations these sites may be perceived as doorways. Without value of their own, these doorway sites are unlikely to stand the test of time in our search results. If you registered several domains but only want to focus on one topic, we recommend you create unique and compelling content on each domain or simply 301 redirect all users to your preferred domain. Think of your web endeavour as if it were a restaurant: You want each dish to reflect the high quality of the service you provide; repeat the same item over and over on your menu and your restaurant might not do so well. Identify and promote your strength or uniqueness. Ask yourself the following questions: What makes you better than the competition? What new service do you provide that others don't? What makes your sites unique and compelling enough to make users want to revisit them, link to them or even recommend them to their friends?

We suggest not spreading out your efforts too broadly, though. It can be difficult to maintain multiple sites while keeping the content fresh and engaging. It's better to have one or a few good sites than a multitude of shallow, low value-add sites. As always, we encourage you to share your thoughts by contributing to the Google Webmaster community.