>>Today’s question comes from Land Lubber
in Colorado. Land Lubber asked a lot of questions; some of them really interesting, some of them
not as interesting, but I thought this one was good. “What’s your take on addon domains”?
Does Google penalize someone for having one or more addon domains on their main website
or if they’re self-hosting, e.g., If you saw 2, 5, or 10 websites all coming from the same
IP addresses, would that be bad?” Well, first off, let’s talk about what addon domains are
because a lot of people haven’t head that term before. Suppose I have the site, mattcutts.com.
An addon domain might be something that your web host would offer you where it’s basically
related, maybe it’s, you know, all part of the package deal where you can get mat-cuts.com.
And typically, an addon domain might have a connotation of being a separate site. So
let’s talk through this a little bit. Suppose you have, for example, I have mattcuts.com.
Maybe I also want to register a matt-cuts.com. My personal advice would be rather than developing
those as separate sites, I would actually make matt-cuts.com to redirect to mattcuts.com.
And the reason is that when you’ve got things that are really, really close, maybe only
a hyphen is different or maybe mattcuts.net. A lot of people expect that to really be the
same site. So if you’re doing an addon domain where you’re registering multiple domains,
my advice would be twofold. Either first, register domains that are really different,
so they have different branding, different domain name, you can tell at a glance that
they’re really different, and then develop them as truly independent sites, you know,
all sorts of different templates and layout, functionally, that sort of thing. Or, the
other direction you can do is you can go ahead and buy the typos or the common aliases or
the other things that you think someone might type when they’re trying to type your domain
name and make that do a 301 redirect to your website. So, this goes a little bit towards
the idea of, you know, how many sites can I have before I start to look a little bit
unusual or artificial, or something like that? And certainly, we’ve seen plenty of sites
where they may have two or three different domain names. Maybe one is targeted to men’s
clothing, one is targeted to women’s clothing; one is related to children’s clothing. You
can have those and have those linked and have them still be separate and have them be branded
a little bit differently and not have that seem too artificial. But think about what
if a competitor was looking at your website and they saw a whole ton of links down in
the footer, down at the bottom and it really was not that much differentiation between
them. Same template, same branding, it was just nothing but keyword stuff domain names.
That can look a little bit worse. So whenever the question comes in about addon domains,
I would interpret that in a couple of ways. First, I’d say either make the domain names
quite separate and develop them. And then as long as you have a very small set of domains,
that can still make sense to cross-link them. Or, make sure that all the typos, hyphenated,
different utilities, all that sort of stuff, just do a 301 redirect. For example, Google
sometimes gets, you know, pornGoogle, or, you know, we go through domain registration
where we go through arbitration and get domain names that people registered with Google in
them, and Google will take those and just do a 301 redirect. So that’s kind of a very
comprehensive answer to your question. And that if you want to do domain names as sort
of a package deal, I would either make them a little bit separate and develop them separately
or, if they’re very similar, go ahead and do a 301 redirect. Both can make sense. The
one thing that I would avoid is making a ton of sites where they’re all auto-generated
and they all look just a little bit spammy because you’re not really putting any time
or love or attention into individually developing those domains.