This article originally appeared on the Spectrum blog.
Ever heard of Kimberly-Clark?
No, it's not a person. It's a corporation -- a major one.
Kimberly-Clark (KMB) is a publically traded, multi-billion dollar company with nearly 60,000 employees. It produces internationally distributed paper-based products that we all know and use and love. These include Kleenex, Huggies, Depend, Cottonelleand Pull-Ups.
Like I said, everyone knows these products. So why do so few people know about Kimberly-Clark?
The answer is simple: branding.
Kimberly-Clark owns so many profoundly successful brands that advertising itself as a parent company would be a futile venture.
Kleenex, Huggies, and the over one-dozen other brands owned by KMB are, in and of themselves, corporations -- each of which is marketed very differently to a target group of consumers. Therefore, each brand demands its own unique presence on the Web. Kleenex, for example, is so well-branded that it has become synonymous with the very word "tissue." It's an incredible accomplishment and, in order to perpetuate the brand name, Kleenex must maintain its image with individualized advertising (including a single website and domain).
When it comes to local or regional businesses, however, multiple domains are almost never necessary.
For example, a local remodeling business should only maintain one website (even if it has a wide selection of products and services). A common misconception is that creating a separate domain for each product offering (e.g. windows, doors, flooring) will help monopolize popular industry keywords. Once upon a time, this (unethical) strategy worked well. To avert this practice, Google has since limited the weight that is placed on domain keywords -- forcing business owners to do things the hard (but right) way.
Ultimately, you want to have a domain for each brand you're trying to develop. For example, if you own a moving company and a real estate firm, you'll want to have two separate websites -- one that focuses on each business. Otherwise you'll not only confuse your customers, but the search engines you're trying to rank on, as well.
If you only own one business, you're only trying to build one brand. Therefore, you only need one website. Investing in more than one means you'll also have to devote more time to your SEO efforts. Multiple domains will also spread the authority of your brand over the Internet rather than centralize it -- diminishing your credibility something awful. And if you don't have credibility online, what do you have?