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The Pros and Cons of Merging Two Websites

Many companies often have a few web properties that fall within their brand’s umbrella. In some cases having a few different websites makes sense because the subject matter of these different sites is specific enough to stand on its own. In other instances, the best option is to merge your websites into one because the content of the two sites is similar enough to exist within the same domain. Before completing such a merger of your brand’s websites, make sure to take a good look at your websites and analyze the pros and cons of completing such a merger. Being aware of these factors will go a long way towards making the merger successful and will help guarantee your websites won’t lose any of their existing rankings in search engines.

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3 Pros of Merging your Websites

  1. Funneled Link Juice: Every website has a linking profile, which acts as a record of all the websites currently linking to your domain. Each website’s links act as a vote of confidence when it comes to how search engines determine your rankings in search results. Both of your websites have links, but are currently being spread across the two websites. Links are a good thing to have, but if your websites’ content is similar enough to be merged then the consolidation of the two link profiles will greatly benefit your website overall, funneling the link juice from all the links you’ve got into one main web presence.
  2. Consolidated Promotional Efforts: Regardless of your websites’ particular conversion goals, you’re likely to utilize a variety of promotional techniques to spread your content across the web. One benefit of merging your sites would certainly be saving time and money on promotional efforts. For instance, if your websites utilize a variety of social media accounts to leverage content you could be maintaining twice as many social media accounts as necessary. If you merge your two sites, you can focus on the social media related promotion of that one site’s content online and offline. In the end, any kind of marketing of your website would become more focused and a better cost effective means of spreading the word about your brand.
  3. Consistent Branding: Similar to the benefit of focusing your website’s promotional efforts, a merger will help the overall message of your brand remain consistent. Keeping this message linear across the board is important to avoid confusion for your customers and to help keep a sharp focus of what your company does well, which is provide a specific product or service. For instance, if a company created two websites for a very similar product line it would certainly create confusion as to which source a consumer should trust. If there are any inconsistencies in information between the two sites, this could help cause further confusion. Merging websites with a similar focus within an industry can go a long way towards smoothing out any confusion about your brand as a whole.

3 Cons of Merging Your Websites

  1. Possible Loss of Domain Authority: Search engines attribute a great deal of weight to the top level pages of a website, like the home page for instance. If your website is selling many different categories of product lines or services, some of the top level pages may not be able to fully rank on one website as they would on separate web properties. Not merging your two websites would allow you to devote your SEO efforts to a more specific focus on certain key phrases for that service, and also expand into the long tail of those keyword phrases. Therefore, a downside of a merger of your sites is that, dependent on the nature of your content, there may not be enough room to properly optimize content for such a wide variety of subjects.
  2. Extensive 301 Redirecting: When planning a merger of two websites, it’s critical that one website is properly redirected to another using a 301 redirect. This will automatically direct users who type in the old URL to the new site, while also transferring all the link juice to the website from links to the old site. However, dependent on the size of your website, this is easier said then done. Many websites, especially e-commerce sites, have thousand of pages on their websites that need to be redirected to corresponding pages on the new website. This extensive 301 redirect map is extremely important and is actually a benefit in the long term for the future of your website, but in the short term it can be extremely intensive and mundane. Giving each and every page the detail it deserves is necessary, but a very time consuming aspect of merging web properties.
  3. Link Maintenance Monotony: A proper merger of a website, as discussed above, would consist of initiating an extensive 301 redirect map. The current links to your website will automatically send the link juice to the new site, as well as users who click them to the new destination. However, it’s important to take a thorough look at your link profile and begin contacting your most important linkers, a suggestion made by Google’s Matt Cutts. Many websites have thousands of links, so it’s impossible to contact every website and ask them to update the URL of their link to your old site to the URL of your new site.

Pick the most important sites that provide you with the most powerful links and contact them requesting that they update the URL of their links to your new site. This process is the painstaking downside to a site merger, but important to ensure the most accurate linking profile your newly fused website can have.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2011/05/09/pros-cons-merging-websites/

9 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Merging Two Websites”

Simon Duck says:

I’ currently considering merging three of my websites, as they are all to-do with business but separate parts of business. These pros and cons have helped, but it is still a big decision to make. The main con I’m thinking of is losing the domain name keywords, apart from that I want to merge them.

I’ll have to test a few things out I guess, and see how it goes.

Thanks for the article,
Regards,
Simon Duck.

Brian Honigman says:

Hello Simon,

Thanks for reading! Well, you won’t lose keyword rich anchor text pointing to your websites if you properly 301 redirect all your web properties onto one domain, this goes for the links as well (which are basically the same thing.) Questions? Write on our Facebook wall to help further clarify your issues or call us. Thanks!

Ryan says:

Good timing on this one. I’ve just started moving a blog from one domain to an existing domain with a forum. Both on the same topic so it doesn’t make sense for me to maintain each separately.

It’s the 301 map that’s going to take the most time. I’ve already done most of the posts, but I’m thinking of leaving one rewrite rule at the end to pick up anything I missed and send it to a generic “hey, we’ve moved things a bit” message.

Brian Honigman Brian Honigman says:

Ryan,

Good idea. Having a custom 404 error page that either redirects to your home page or elsewhere on your website is certainly vital. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work.

Doug Hopeman says:

I have a quick question. If you are merging a smaller site into a bigger site. How do you direct the entire smaller site into a larger site’s sub-directory using 301. It seems you have to leave the home page on the smaller site in tact or google won’t find the .htaccess to know where to redirect the internal pages of the smaller site. Or inversely you can only 301 redirect the home page of the smaller site and no other internal pages? Thanks, doug

what is a good rule of thumb for merging two completely different sites just to make it easier to maintain one rather than two. for example a multi web and article directory with a framing company. I dont like having to maintain two sites. i was thinking of a portal on the homepage that had links and brought you to sections of pages with the other content similar to the way its displayed on the original site but combined with the web directory. have any ideas? or it this just a completely dumb idea?

Kat says:

Thanks for a great article.

I am wondering if the first point – that it’s better to funnel the link juice all to one main site – depends upon assuming that old links are going to be updated with the new URL. For example if you subsume a 15 year old, very highly ranked site with ‘timeless’ content that is still used and relevant today. If the URL changes and you add redirects, the majority of those links will probably never be updated with the new URL.
In this case would it be better to try to keep that old URL separate and active?

Gal says:

Nice post -just one question, when you merge two sites together, what do you have to do to stop google thinking it’s duplicate content?

If I want to move all of site b to plan a, then I’ve been told I should take site b down and that’s that.

Do the 301 redirects need to be done if the site is not live? Will one from the homepage work if the rest of the pages haven’t had any links to them but have been crawled by google?

Thanks in advance,

Gal

Nel-Marie says:

If you’re going to do a 301 redirect, why would you still need to contact the webmasters of those sites linking to you? Wouldn’t the redirects fix the problem?