Today’s question: if you buy extra domain names and point them at your main website, does that improve your SEO?
In most cases, pointing extra domain names at your website won’t do anything.
However, there are some reasons you might want to do this anyway.
We’ll look at why and when buying extra domain names would help your SEO, and why you might want to buy extra domain names, even when there’s no ranking boost.
Understanding Domain Forwarding
To leverage multiple domain names, first you’ll set up your main domain name for your website. Then, buy one or more domain names that redirect to your main website. This is called domain forwarding.
Whenever you forward an extra domain name to your main site, redirect it from your domain registrar (where you bought your domain name). You’ll want to leave domain masking off.
This means that if someone types in the extra domain into their browser address bar, they will be sent to the main domain of your website. Here’s an example:
MyExtraDomain.com --> YourMainDomain.com
You can repeat this pattern for as many extra domain names as you wish to forward. Let’s look at cases where this is advantageous.
Buying Variations on Your Branded Domain to Prevent Dilution
One reason you would want to buy extra domain names is to protect competitors from diluting your brand. If you own variations on your branded domain name (for example: .net, .org, .biz, .info) then you “lock up” any branded domains. Your competitors can’t buy them, and point them at their website.
Essentially, this keeps the domains out of someone else’s hands, but it adds nothing directly to your search rankings.
Personally, I don’t see a practical reason to buy variations on a competitor’s brand names. If they find out, it may even create an unnecessary enemy. Instead, focus on building your own brand name to be as strong as possible.
Buy Domains If Your Brand Name Is Similar To Another, Unrelated Brand
Though this happens less frequently, sometimes you have a brand name that is almost the same as another company in another category.
In cases like this, you’ll already be working double-time to separate your brand from theirs, but having a distinct main domain name becomes more important.
This doesn’t add SEO value; it’s more of a branding issue.
Buy Extra Domains When Your Brand Name Is Hard To Spell
Another reason you might buy multiple domain names is if your brand name is sometimes misspelled.
This can definitely be a factor, especially if well-meaning customers or fans share a link to your domain — but the domain is spelled slightly wrong. We’ve picked up extra domain name variations, because we’ve noticed people sharing links to our domain name where one letter was off.
This can help your SEO by capitalizing on links that people build for you, and ensuring they end up on your website. We usually do domain forwarding at the domain registrar level,(a sitewide 301 redirect for that extra domain name).
Keeping Highly Desirable Domains Away From Competitors
Another reason you would buy extra domains would be in a competitive vertical, where you want to acquire highly desirable or easily remembered non-branded domains. If there are memorable domain names available, or domains closely related to your product line, you may choose to buy those domain names to keep them out of a competitors hands.
Normally, this will not doesn’t add anything to your SEO, unless someone owned that domain before, and built back links to the domain. But pointing old domains at your live site should be done with extreme caution.
Can I Forward a Domain Name to a Specific Product Page?
If you have an easy-to-remember extra domain name that you want to point to a specific product, you can do this! I won’t make that page rank any higher, but there are other advantages.
The biggest upsides to using a product-page specific domain name are portability and ease of sharing.
If you point your domain towards a single page in your site, it make that web address easy to remember and share.
Instead of this:
you can share this:
That’s a big difference, and and also helps brand your stand-alone product.
Remember, you’ll still want to resolve the vanity domain name to the original web address. For example:
https://myCoolProduct.com --> https://myDomain.com/products/my-cool-product/
Forwarding Once-Used Domains to Your Main Website
One reason you would buy extra domains is to leverage them for their back link profile. By pointing those old domains at a new website, you can get some of the boost from the back links profile.
Here’s a big note of caution: Google remembers any URLs it has crawled for a very long time. Forever, in fact.
Google is also a domain name registrar (and has been since 2014), and can see the history of domain ownership records.
Here’s why that is important.
Let’s say a domain name that you want, but someone else owned, expires. That domain name becomes available to the public. Then you buy that domain name, and point it at your website.
If that old domain name was pointing at another website prior to you buying it and pointing it at yours, Google will still try and re-crawl any URLs (web addresses) it remembers from the old site. Google will evaluate that site against what it remembers. In other words, Google will check to see if the domain is similar to what it was before.
If you point domain name at your site that had a website built on it before, Google will try to find any URLs that were on the old site, on your new website. Google will then evaluate the new pages against the old pages in it’s memory bank.
If the pages are not 1:1, meaning they are close to equivalent in meaning and context, Google may discount those links.
If you do not have equivalent pages on the new site, you may also see a bunch of Crawl Errors or 404s in your Google Search Console.
Many SEO consultants believe that dropped domains are (mostly) treated as a brand new site. Even if the domain drops for a day, changes ownership, and is then put back up, Google will re-evaluate it. This is to prevent manipulation by people who buy expired domains purely to leverage the back link profile for SEO.
Meaning, don’t expect 100% of the old link equity to transfer over to your site if you buy a domain name for the back link profile.
How Can You Use Surplus Domains That Used to Be Live Websites?
What’s a safer way to use domain names that used to point at live websites?
A better use of those domains might be to create secondary or satellite websites that “soak up” some of the excess positions in the search engine ranking pages (SERPs). It is possible to build out websites that are close to what they were before, but “work” for your brand now, to sell your products, or build awareness of your main brand.
I do not advise that you buy dropped domains and then point those at your main website, if they were pointing at live websites in the past. Protect your main branded website.
Secondary websites are something to do if you have extra time on your hands, or if you have optimized your main site as much as possible. Secondary sites usually don’t rank as well as your main site. However, in categories and verticals that are less competitive, it can be useful to have “satellite” websites that take up some additional real estate on the search results page.
Extra Domain Names, the Conclusion
Summing up, buying variations of your branded domain, or superfluous domains that sound catchy, do not inherently add more ranking power to your site. Pointing extra domains at your site, in most cases, they won’t add extra SEO power to your company website.
If you have extra domains that you want to put to use, you can point them towards a product page if you desire, or build out separate websites (this should be a lower priority than building up your main site).