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Having a Second Site is Not Necessary, nor a Good Idea!

By: Mitch Ortenburg, CSR Manager & SEO Specialist, February 27, 2018
If you’re familiar with the 1986 cult classic Highlander, you’ll know the movie’s corny tagline – (read in Christopher Lambert’s horribly broken accent) “In the end, there can be only one!” Google agrees with this mindset for a great many things. (People need only one search engine – Google. They need only one browser – Chrome …you get the picture.) It’s fitting then that they believe that for every conventional Service Area Business there should be only one website. This statement applies to over 99% of our clients. Gone are the days of being able to double-dip search engine rankings by
having multiple sites for different physical locations nearby or for different divisions of the same business. In the HVAC/Plumbing industry, it’s not a “thing” any longer. Conventionally, one of two things will happen if more than one site is found: 1) Google will usually disregard the newer site so you’ll just end up throwing all the money spent on SEO efforts for the new site down the drain. Or, 2) The second, and far rarer, outcome is that Google will favor the new site over the original and will disregard the previous site. Both outcomes involve you needlessly kissing your hard-earned money good-bye.

This is one of those things that I, quite honestly, would have expected to die out more in recent years as Google’s
algorithm gets even better at sniffing out these, and yet, it’s 2018 and they’re still a “thing”. Sincerely, we grieve when we hear stories from new clients coming over to us with multiple sites under the guise of “you just need to”. It hurts even more when we hear our current clients say that they’ve just signed a long-term contract with a large search engine marketing (SEM) firm because they promised them the moon and a sales pitch that closes with what equates to “and all you have to do is pay us gobs of money”. All this pain could have been avoided with a “well, let me check with my web provider”. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut! It’s gotten you this far – trust it!

Now, I realize that there are a variety of reasons why they say that this is something you need to do. Let’s cover some of the more common ones.
But, my PPC company tells me I need to
In short – they may, but it’s not true. I find it interesting how liberally companies will use the word “need” to justify their “wants” without fully disclosing the truth. I expect that’s because, if they did, people wouldn’t buy their pitch. You don’t need a separate website for PPC. We work with 3rd party PPC providers on a regular basis and have no problem putting up PPC landing pages in our system. Furthermore, we give these companies doorways to monitor their analytics.
You need to use tracking numbers
We have you covered there, too! The safest way of using tracking numbers is by hosting one site and using a dynamic number system to detect the origin of the visitor to the site. This is something we have via our PagePilot Call Metrics program which we’ve developed to work extremely well in our system. As a bonus, it tracks every call made through the website (and you can use 5 additional lines for physical advertising as well, at no additional cost).
I’m using my co-op dollars / they say this other website won’t negatively affect my Google ranking
Umm… I’ll call their bluff on that. Many companies will allow you to use your co-op dollars to your pre-existing website. If not, ask “why not?”
McDonald’s does it – why can’t I?
Google realizes that the nature of fast-food industry is quite different than that of the contracting business. And, they have separate addresses, which leads me to my next topic…
Well, we have multiple locations!
Unless they’re far removed from one another (like a different county or state), having a second site won’t really be worth the money you invest in it. Utilizing something called “schema”, you can tell Google in your singular website’s code, that you have a main office and subsequent branches. In most cases, it’s smarter and more effective to focus your resources on getting one site to rank versus two.
You have two difference types of service operating out of the same business
This one can get a little tricky. Let’s say, for example, that you have a department that does HVAC work and one that does home remodeling. A general rule of thumb is, if the two departments technically operate as the same business, one website is the safest way to go. If you have branded the different departments separately, then it may make sense to do a separate website for each. The biggest problem is something Google tries to combat called “NAP Confusion”. Google believes that each business should have a locally unique name, address, phone number and website address—the operative word being ‘unique’. NAP Confusion stems from when Google sees multiple businesses sharing one or more of those four elements. If Google sees two business which have separate websites and GMB (Google My Business) listings, but that share the same address and classify in similar categories, Google will very frequently disregard the newer one.
Take us and our sister company for example - we operate in the same building as our HVAC and plumbing company. The specific reason this doesn’t negatively affect us is because Google realizes that we don’t offer even remotely similar services. If Online-Access had a name like “A&B Contracting”, shared the same address and did electrical work or insulation, the outcome would be a different story.

What have we learned today?

You don’t need (and shouldn’t have) a second website 99% of the time. We’ve covered some of the reasons people believe they need one and why they probably don’t. When someone tries to tell you that you should get another website, keep this paraphrase from ‘The Princess Bride’ in the back of your mind – “… Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” Hope you enjoyed today’s topic as much as I did writing about it!

Footnote - Highlander is a wonderfully horrible sci-fi movie about a group of humans who are essentially immortal unless defeated by another of their own kind. Their goal is to be the only one remaining and thus have access to all the knowledge and power in the world. much like a condensed, hour and a half version of a presidential election campaign. Can’t beat the music though – Who doesn’t love Queen?! (Way better than the ‘Flash Gordon’ soundtrack.)

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