Todd “Oilman” Friesen recently did a post emphasizing the importance of location, location, location. In it, the Oilman takes Kevin Rose to task for dividing up the powerful Digg empire into 3 sites. It’s a mistake that lots of webmasters make.
There are many reasons for this. Not too long ago, a big trick was to use subdomains (e.g. subdomain.yourdomain.com) because for a while search engines treated a link from a subdomain as if it came from a different site. A pretty simple way to get additional inbound links. I still get questions about this trick from people. But the search engines closed the door on that one a long time ago.
Another problem is that webmasters look at large media properties, such as CNet Networks. They see a large array of web sites, all heavily cross-linked. They convince themselves that the existence of the large number of domains that is what makes the whole network successful. However, you can rest assured that when a major search engine sees such a large network of interlinked sites that they pretty quickly figure out that they have one owner.
I have seen companies insist on developing new sites or putting things on subdomains for these very reasons. Don’t do it. It’s a waste of your time.
One of the biggest reasons is that you end up having to market numerous web properties, instead of one. This means separate messaging, different promotional campaigns, and subdivided results. Another big reason is captured by the old saying “a rising tide lifts all boats”. A link to the home page of a single master site benefits all the on-site content.
I know of one good exception to the rule of “keep all your content on a single site”. If you acquire a third party site that has a boatload of links to it already, you may wish to keep it separate. This is the unique case where the acquired website has its own audience (traffic) and brand that you wish to keep in place. This is a major reason that CNET Networks looks the way it does.
If that’s your strategy, go for it. Otherwise, keep it all on one site.
Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient Digital. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO. Learn More About Eric Enge