Will a Second Website Help My SEO Campaign?

How not to maximize your SEO. Discover why link building from a second site will probably hurt more than it will help.
Nate Dame
Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Propecta, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Propecta builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.
September 23, 2014

Here’s a question that comes up from time to time: Will a second website help my SEO campaign? You’re working on maximizing your SEO. Awesome. You’re looking at things like keywords and links to get the most out of your content strategy. Well done. Keywords and content are completely up to you, but links take the cooperation of other site owners, and can thus be harder to build. Why not put together a second website so you can use it to link back to your primary site? Wouldn’t that give you more control over links? It would give you the ability to create links yourself, but is it really a good SEO strategy? Probably not. Here’s why …

1. You’re Starting with Nothing

Pause for a moment and remember how long it took your current site to get where it is now. Building a second site means starting all over. All. Over. You need a new domain, and a site with a new look and great user experience. You’re starting from scratch with branding – new narrative, new logo, new voice, and probably new social media accounts. To create any kind of real SEO value, you need to build authority from the ground up again – through links, social media sharing, etc. If you’re going to spend all that time building brands and authority, shouldn’t you do it on your existing site?

2. You Cannot Copy

If you thought you would start another brand and use some of the content you’ve already worked so hard on, think again. Duplicate, or even mostly duplicate – in case you considered tweaking or spicing up some old existing content – will get Google’s attention, but not the kind of attention you want. You’ll spend almost twice the time on SEO, and end up weakening both of your sites. There are short-term cheats for content, and there will be a few opportunities along the way to coordinate promotion of both sites. You may find some synergy in a handful of your efforts, but the overall cost will be about 1.8 times what you’re currently expending for minimal – if any – real SEO perks.

But What If …

There are two common excuses for trying to build SEO with a second site, but neither of them really stand up.

“But what if I just want to build links to my site?”

Links sill communicate good SEO value, so it’s natural to think that building a second site for the purpose of creating links back to your primary site would improve its authority. But Google grades links based on the authority of the site on which they are found. For this strategy to work, your secondary site has to have its own authority. For the reasons discussed above, it’s just not worth your time for one more linking domain.

“But what if there’s a problem on my current site?”

Fix it. Whatever the problem is, and whatever it will take to fix, is a better use of your time and resources than trying to maintain a weak site while you start all over on a second one. If your house needed a new roof, you wouldn’t build a second superstructure and erect a new roof over your existing one. Your time and energy is better spent fixing the problem.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes – occasionally – you will need to build a second site. Here are a few reasons:

  • Massive Google penalties – If you have a shady past, and Google caught you. Even after you’ve repented and seen the proverbial light, you can’t lift some Google penalties – you probably need a new site.
  • New brand – If you’re launching a new brand that is substantially different from your primary one, then yes, you probably need a new site.
  • Irrational CEO – If the boss wants a second site, and all of your passionate pleas for reason fall on deaf ears, sometimes you just have to do what the job calls for. Watch your rankings on both sites very carefully, and start drafting a very gentle, “I told you so.”

Note that most of the occasions that reasonably allow for a new site call for just that – a new site – because you’re already planning on starting over for some reason.

On Second Thought…

When you add it all up, the math doesn’t work. It may initially seem like a good idea – you’re trying to build links, you’re having a hard time, why not set up another site where you have complete control over links? But on further investigation – and with a little Google insight – it turns out that in most cases, a second site might actually hurt more than it will help.

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