Can a Website Have Multiple Domain Names?
Having one domain registered and used for your website is great, but why not have two, or even five? You may be asking ‘why?’ - we’ll be diving into the various reasons in this article. But the even more common, simple question is: can a website have multiple domain names? The answer is yes, but there are some factors to consider that should play a role in making the decision to acquire alternative domains, many of which can influence both your brand recognition and online discoverability. In this article, we’ll also cover best practices regarding using multiple domain names for your website.
Using Multiple Domains For Your Website: The Whys
There are various reasons why an individual, brand or organization may consider using multiple domains for their website, with many of the reasons tied to the goal of what these alternate domains are trying to accomplish. Below are some broader, common uses for these domains.
With the launch of the ‘New gTLD Program’ in 2011 by ICANN, there has been a surge of new TLDs created (with well over 1,000+ total since the launch). A large number of these TLDs are tailored to specific types of websites – focusing on aligning with a website’s audience, content, and/or business type. Almost every interest, hobby or business niche has a TLD that represents them well, which is why registering a domain with these different TLDs on-top of your current domain can be beneficial. These domains with alternative TLDs can then be used for any purpose you or your brand see fit, whether it be for marketing strategies (such as for promotion, URL memorability, or advertising microsites) or for segmenting part of your online presence. You can get creative with how these TLDs fit with your brand. Make sure to check out our full list of TLDs available for registration.
Navigating the internet can, on occasion, be tricky for some users. Malicious groups or even brand competitors can take advantage of this by setting up domains that look or sound like your domain name, often in an attempt to capture some of your audience who aren’t as diligent or thorough. These domains are even occasionally setup nefariously to capture sensitive user data through a brand’s recognition. This experience is obviously not a positive one for the end-user, and although it isn’t connected directly to the original brand, it can negatively impact a customer’s perception of it. To prevent this, many larger companies register specific domains strictly to prevent abuse. It may be worth considering any common spelling errors users have with your brand or similar sounding names to register those associated domains, with the hope of assisting users with getting to the correct destination.
Rebranding Your Online Presence
Drastic changes happen with brands; whether they split services, launch a new product they want to brand separately, or completely shift gears to a new online identity. Regardless, one or more new domain names are likely required at some point as part of the transition. Through this process, it’s important that your audience has no difficulties finding you online – accessibility is crucial to capitalize on opportunities. Regardless of the type of new brand or branding shift you’re considering, make sure to keep hold of your previous domain and point it to your new domain to guide your users to the website they expect to arrive at.
Setting up Multiple Domain Names
Now that we’ve covered some of the ‘whys’, let's briefly discuss the ‘how’. Luckily, this part is straightforward if you’re simply pointing one domain to another, in which case you can utilize ‘domain forwarding’. Domain forwarding will redirect any visitors landing on one domain name directly to another designated domain name. Dynadot makes setting up domain forwarding simple by going to a domain name’s DNS setting in your control panel and setting the domain to ‘domain forwarding’. From there, just enter your designated URL where you want to send users to for that domain and save. This can be done for all the domains you wish to have point to your primary website, meaning you can have as many domains as you want pointed towards your website!
SEO and Multiple Domains Names: For Consideration
Beyond the reasons of why someone may want to use multiple domains for one website, there are some implications from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective that should be considered prior to registering these alternative domains and redirecting users that land on them.
Start with Research
When acquiring a new domain that will be used for any part of your online presence, it’s important to do your research on any domain that may be tied to your brand. Looking at a potential domain’s past content (if there was a site previously using the domain) using a tool such as waybackmachine or investigating its domain authority (which is a loose indicator of a domain’s SEO power) are important steps to ensure your new domain(s) don’t hurt your current website’s keyword performance on the search engine results pages (SERPs). A domain with previously controversial content and/or extremely low domain authority may be a domain name that you want to stay clear of forwarding to your website.
Directly tied to reviewing domain authority is analyzing the potential domain’s backlink history. Using tools such as ahrefs or SEMrush to discover any backlinks or referring domains attached to this domain is important to ensure your new domain won’t be harmful to existing keyword rankings. If there are any harmful backlinks discovered, either consider going through the disavowing link process if you would still like to use the domain, or consider not using that domain entirely. Brand websites that have lower authority or a low number of backlinks can damage their search engine rankings by pointing a domain to their site that has many toxic backlinks. Alternatively, if there is an obvious misuse of a domain that is somehow connected with your brand, it may be worth looking into the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to resolve your issue.
What Not To Do
If you’ve already acquired your second domain, it's very important to only have your website reside on one domain. Hosting your website’s content on multiple domains can cause SEO issues, as not only will it be flagged by Google as larges amounts of duplicate content between separate domains, it will also split your users between two different domains, leading to a confusing user experience. Instead, use domain forwarding or redirects to point your secondary domains towards your primary, main brand domain.
Utilizing multiple domains for one website can be a smart strategy to expand beyond your initial domain name or open new opportunities for your audience to discover your brand. With that said, it requires time to strategize not only what the domain name will be and what you do with it, but also spending the time investigating the domains themselves to ensure that you mitigate the risks when that new domain is connected to your online presence. This becomes even more important the larger the brand that you have, so consider the outcome and choose the right domains to add to your brand repertoire. If you are looking to setup multiple domain names for your website, we make it easy to both register new domains under various TLDs and setup domain forwarding to point your domain to your main brand website.