[FONT=verdana]Difficult to answer that question without more information. What are these websites? Where do they come from, and what do they contain? And when you sell two of them to the same customer, are they both aimed at the same audience, and intended to promote the same business?
In fact, what exactly do you mean by “advertising bundled with a website”?
I’d go ahead and say that this is generally a bad idea. You have two websites that you need to maintain and two websites that will now need SEO work to compete. If the companies are franchises or wholly separate entities it’s not a big deal, but if you’re talking about something like a Contractor website that services Huntington Beach and Anaheim (as an example), then there’s zero reason to have both sites. You’d be better served talking about the areas that you support and making sure that all local profiles (Google Local, etc.) are setup.
Sorry, I meant to say, we sell print advertising packages, bundled with a one, three, or five-page website.
What happened is we ended up building two 5-page websites for a pest control company, promoting the same business and targeting the exact same client base. Two different designers built each site, and different copy was written so they wouldn’t be an exact duplicate.
My stand is that it would be better to build a main 5-page business site and a 1-page micro-site around a single service. The manager insisted that, no, having two complete business sites is better because gives him a better chance of appearing in a local search.
That’s exactly what I’m talking about, except it’s like a company located in LA County who serves both LA and Orange County, then building one site targeting Orange County and another site targeting LA County.
Okay, that’s just plain silly. If we were talking about different countries that would necessitate different TLD’s (.com and .co.uk) then there’s a case to be made for international SEO. If it’s a company working within a region in a specific state then it makes absolutely zero sense whatsoever. The devil’s advocate argument (that is completely misguided) is that two sites equals two opportunities to rank for regional keywords. The only way this argument works is if they were going for “Anaheim pest control” and “Huntington Beach pest control” and owned EMD’s for both (AnaheimPestControl.com and HuntingtonBeachPestControl.com). Considering that regional keyword phrases have very small keyword opportunities I would be reticent to even suggest that approach.
This view of SEO also blocks them off from regionally based generic keyword phrases. The term “pest control” is going to get a lot more searches at a national level than “Anaheim pest control” or any regional derivation. They would be better suited to have one single domain that consolidates authority over time than to “split” that authority over two sites. All of this completely ignores the statement about two different designs, which strays into brand identity, but is another no-no if you talk to any marketer worth their salt.
Finally, I hope that when you sell a 5-page site that the end user has some sort of CMS that they can add more to it with. If you’re selling static HTML pages with zero ability to add new content selling with SEO in mind then you should quit your job immediately because your company doesn’t know how SEO works. Microsites for print, radio, TV, banner, or SEM campaigns do much better when they’re small and constrained, but by their very design they do very poorly from an SEO perspective. I regularly recommend two-page microsites to paid search clients because you can get a much better conversion rate (5-10% on average versus <2.5% for a large site); however, I would never tell them that tiny little sites like that will have any real chance at ranking in the SE’s.
[SIZE=2][FONT=arial]What we have is sales managers who don’t know anything about SEO, but think they do.
Actually, there’s no paid SEO being done to these sites, other than some basic on-page stuff. All the customer is buying is a entry-level website.
Regarding ranking better at a national level, these are local business, serving smaller rural markets, so ranking well nationally is useless. What was done in this particular case is the exact scenario you mentioned: AnaheimPestControl.com and HuntingtonBeachPestControl.com. Since this is specifically local search, tell me why that’s not a good thing.[/FONT][/SIZE]
The fact that you are offering an advertising package along with the website design is a big plus. It really is hard for the small business owner to
get great internet traffic starting out. By including offline print ads to your client is yet another way to bring unique visitors to their sites. These
unique offline visitors or may not find your client so easily had he or she created their own newbie site and uploaded it themselves.
As for the multiple websites. If you were targeting LA and Alabama, for example, please build 2 different sites.
[FONT=verdana]Thanks for the clarification, John. It’s now much clearer what you are trying to achieve.
On balance, I agree with Duffyace. Having two sites because they increase the chance of appearing in local search doesn’t make sense. All that would happen is that the sites would be competing with each other for the user’s attention. They would also dilute any incoming links. Better to consolidate them into a single site.
By all means, include Anaheim and Huntington Beach (for example) in the text, and if possible even in some of the page titles, to catch those cases where the visitor does include the place names in the search terms. But don’t go any further than that.
And remember that SEO isn’t the only consideration. You’ve got to provide the best experience for your potential customers. Having two completely different sites for apparently the same company and the same service will only add to their confusion.
The other thing to consider is future expansion. If the client right now has two locations, what happens when they hit 3 locations? How about 10? A single consolidated site will do better at ranking for a generic phrase in a specific locale than individual sites. When I mentioned ranking for non-geo specific phrases I was suggesting ranking for a term (in this example) like “pest control”, which generates 22,100 exact searches per month via Google. That type of a term won’t allow any single company to rank at #1 nationally (unless they had the footprint for it), so instead Google will divvy it up regionally based on authority.
I’ll give a good real world example to add to this. I live in California, so I did a search for “Handyman” and was able to find a company called MrHandyMan (.com). If you go to their site they have a directory showing they have locations across the US. I pulled a ranking report for them, and here are a few tidbits to consider:
Rank #3 for “Handyman” (22,200 volume)
#1 for ‘handyman Houston’, ‘handyman Dallas’, ‘local handyman’, ‘handyman services’, and many more
Anytime they expand they already have a highly authoritative site - all they need to do is add a new location and some content and they’re done. In the multiple site approach you have to start from scratch every single time a client expands. Multiple sites can work; however, they do create more work, more upkeep, and as Mike stated it adds to customer confusion.
I think it will not be a bad idea if the content isn’t the same on both the sites, but if it is converse situation, i.e, both the sites are maintained with exact content, none of them will be able to fetch a ranking in SERP as Google will Spam them or either one will be there and other will not appear on the SERPs, and if the content has a mere difference too, there would be very less chance for both of the sites to get presence on the SERPs. It may happen that Google may disapprove the original site, or vice versa and rank the other one, or even does not rank both of them, so my suggestion would be to go with only one site per one client. Choose proper keywords, and optimize the site properly then you may not worry about getting visibility, because a site with good content and sound SEO foundation, always gets a good online presence
I think multile website is not advisable specially if you are just starting out for reasons that maintaining one is hard enough to generate visitors another reason is if the content is the same then that means you are aiming at the same market so your marketwill just be divided between your sites.
I think it’s a bad idea. The same amount of work focused to one site will yield better search results. Spreading out the copy to two domains is really useless. From an SEO standpoint, it’s better to create a 5 page site on a .com and do 5 pages worth of content on a free wordpress.com or blogspot blog.