I am working on a redesign where the company is THE authority on the subject, but organic results do not reflect this.

There is little competition in the industry, but a smaller company in particular has a heavy saturation of organic search results through, IMHO, running a variety of websites with keyword-rich domains with original content, plus a widely-used (for the market size) public forum.

The main company's site currently has a great deal of unique content and eCommerce. Aside from the many changes that need to be made for SEO, here is what I am pondering.

Two options:

1) Continue with the single domain (which is company name only, e.g., XYZbrand.com), keeping content and shopping on one site. Restructure, improve SEO, etc., add SEM.

2) Separate content from shopping, with the content on a very direct, keyword-based domain (e.g., WatercolorPainting.com shopping would remain on the current domain (XYZbrand.com).

As the site is now, it can be very confusing for a potential customer to understand what the product is for, much less make a decision to purchase. We want the potential customer to stay on the XYZbrand.com site (or the WatercolorPainting.com site) for research and feel confident in making a purchase on XYZbrand.com site instead of the competitor.

Will splitting this site into two be more harmful or beneficial for this type of user, as well as for search results? This is probably as clear as mud, so please let me know if there is anything I can clarify. TIA,

A. Henson