New Domain Vs Subfolder – Should I Set Up A New Domain When Extending My Company’s Activities?
I was asked this question from a techie who worked for a company who was adding services to their current activities. The company was a ‘general contractor’ and he was asked by his bosses to set up a new URL to cover the company’s new maintenance division. He asked whether it was better to set up a new domain or to set up a sub domain under which to perform the new service.
His question was:
“Should I set up a domain like this to handle the new service?”
“Or should I set up a new brand name with new domain name altogether?”
newcompany.com and maybe add sub branding “By mycompany”
The Hyphenated Domain Name Option
If you use a new domain with the hyphen in the middle then for sure it is going to look unprofessional and spammy! From a URL perspective, it just ain’t going to look good in search. It isn’t long ago that Google used to be littered with low-quality domain names for example: the-best-maintenance-company-online.com. It just looks so unprofessional and frankly is not worth considering. Sure your company is in the title and maybe you think that for that reason people will think it’s OK but trust me it isn’t.
The Sub-Domain Option
I have seen many companies do this. They retain the existing company brand name in the URL but prefix it with the name of the new division. It’s a possibility and it does help by having the sub-domain as part of the existing company domain. Frankly, though it just doesn’t look right does it? Why waste time adding sub-domains to the main URL only to have to maintain them exactly in the way you would a separate website.
The New Domain Option
The second option – to set up a new brand name which would be reflected in the URL. Of course, this will involve a whole lot more than just buying a new domain. There is a huge list of branding issues that need to be considered before you even get to the SEO issues. For example
No Domain Authority – Ahrefs recently conducted a study which showed that only 5.7% of pages that are newly published will get into Google’s top 10 within a year.
New Logo – design costs
New Stationery – printing costs
New Socials – starting from zero it can take a long time to build up a social presence
New Email Addresses – contacting the new company
New Google Tools
etc etc etc
You can see how this option really is a no-no.
The Subfolder Option
My preference, in this case, would be to use a subfolder for the new activity then use sub categories of that to describe the various activities in more detail:
The main sub-folder would be treated as another category or extension of the company’s existing activities. It would have sub-categories describing how this is broken down into the various parts of maintenance. Each page would target a specific small set of keywords. This will achieve much better results in SERPS as the company already exists and presumably already has Domain Authority.
This maintains all activities all under one roof whilst targeting each sub folder and subsequent sub category in the strongest possible way for SEO.
In conclusion – don’t throw away perfectly good Domain Authority just to please the bosses who do not understand SEO. Go back and tell them that it is folly to throw the baby away with the bathwater. Use your existing assets to the max.
The important thing in all of this is not to cannibalise an existing website. Ownership and physical addresses of a domain are used as a ranking factor in SERPS. Duplicate content across domains which are owned by the same company is a huge no. Much better to concentrate all your activities under the one brand name which can only strengthen the positions in search. If you must have duplicate content on your site – ie descriptions of a single activity accessible from more than one domain then canonicalise them!
Nigel Carr 2017©