Using Different Domains for Departments?

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Have a situation where a company is in several different lines of business. For example, let's say the company does single family home construction, multi-family apartment/condo building construction, and commercial/office building construction. The company wants to appear as though they are specialists in each of those areas. So if the company name is ZipCon, there is ZipCon Homes, ZipCon Multi-Family, and ZipCon Commercial. Maybe not the best example but you get my point.

They want the home page to be custom for each of the three areas so the domains might be:

zipconhomes.com
zipconapartments.com
zipconcommercial.com

Now I'm trying to figure the most "Google Friendly" way to structure it. Seems like I have a few options. I don't want to have to create three totally different looking websites. They would all use the same basic framework of a site but the content would be different (different wording and pictures).

(a) Have a main site zipcon.com where the navigation to each of the three departments links to each of the three other domains so the department content is not accessible via the zipcon.com base address so there is no duplicate pages. This would mean the main zipcon.com website would be pretty thin on content itself.

(b) Have all the content on the main zipcon.com domain, but host the other three domains and make the home pages for those domains go to the content of the department home pages of the zipcon.com site but prevent Googlebot from trying to index the three department domains so there isn't a duplicate content issue. Downside of this is that then the department domains are only good for putting on business cards or using for local business citations - although I doubt Google/Yelp/etc would let you get away with having all three listed separately unless you gave them separate addresses and phone numbers.

The goal is that we want to have separate collateral (business cards, brochures, and possible business listing citations) for each branch of the business and when someone searches for that particular niche of service, the home page for that service comes up before the main home page in the search results (which would only be possible using method a)

I suppose we could also eliminate using the zipcon.com base website all together. But if the three websites have the same underlying HTML/CSS/JS structure and just different wording and images, will Google still considering them "semi duplicate" sites and therefore negatively effect the rank?
#departments #domains
  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Originally Posted by consultant1027 View Post

    ...will Google still considering them "semi duplicate" sites and therefore negatively effect the rank?

    I think you'll be ok considering homes, apartments and commercial property are all going to be targeting different keywords.
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  • Profile picture of the author yangontours94
    You need to keep display, logo, host and IP different. The recommendation is to register host for them from different host providers.
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    • Profile picture of the author consultant1027
      I didn't think IP address was a major consideration, as a very large server could host a couple hundred totally unrelated websites on the same IP address?

      However if the sites are crosslinking AND on the same IP address (or even on the same Class C) I'm sure that raises red flags with Google.

      I think I am at the conclusion if you are not going to have totally different business names, then you shouldn't try to index multiple domains even if they have unique content. Maybe the main reason is it creates a lot of additional work for potentially not a lot of benefit. But stripping the main site of content, it becomes very "thin" and thereby you are hampering the ranking of the main site as opposed to Google seeing one large robust content site.
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