Single-domain vs multi-domain strategies: What are they, and how do you know which way to go?

Starting a company means constantly weighing the costs and benefits of every decision that comes your way. Any good business owner must strike a balance between appealing to their niche audience without alienating other potential clients.

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One important choice every business must make is whether their website should employ a single or multi-domain strategy. At By the Pixel, we have tons of experience in making business-related decisions. We wanted to share what we know about the single-domain route as well as the multi-domain option so that you can make a well-informed decision about what’s best for your brand.

What’s the difference between a single-domain strategy and a multi-domain strategy?

The question of domain strategy comes into focus when a brand has a wide range of products and services. Using the single domain technique means that everything you’re selling can be found using one URL. All products and services exist under a single domain, hence the strategy’s name. A multi-domain strategy is essentially the polar opposite. Different products are dispersed across different domains, each with a website devoted to it. In this case, business owners run two or more websites simultaneously. Each of these strategies comes with its own risks and advantages, so choosing between the two isn’t as simple as flipping a coin. Fortunately, we’ve laid out the pros of both to give you a solid jumping-off point when strategizing for your business.

Pros of the single domain strategy

Present a rock-solid foundation

Imagine you arrive on a website for the very first time. You start exploring, curious to see what lies beyond each landing page. When a company uses the single domain strategy, visitors will see a variety of successful products. Customers will understand your business as diverse, multi-talented, and flexible. In this way, a multi-domain strategy prevents potential clients from viewing the full breadth of your work. Using only a single domain, however, ensures that all you have to offer is evident right off the bat. 

Work smarter, not harder

This next pro is pretty straightforward. Managing multiple websites will invariably create more work, and many companies may feel their time would be better spent elsewhere. Keeping everything under one domain can undoubtedly be effective, and it might also make the job of social media strategizing simpler. 

Open the door to cross-selling

Have you ever gone to the store for eggs and walked out with a new toaster instead? Many brick-and-mortar businesses house several departments that customers can stroll through. When a particular product catches their eye, it isn’t uncommon to make a completely unplanned purchase. The single-domain strategy can have this same effect. Even if someone comes to your website because they know you sell shoes, it’s possible they’ll fall in love with a product from your kitchenware line just because it’s there. Dividing items into different websites might be the unintentional reason you aren’t making more sales.

Pros of the multi-domain strategy

Investing time into each individual target audience
If you recognize the brand name Bic, you probably know the company as a manufacturer of pens and razors. But did you know that for decades, the brand also produced vastly different items? Bic Sports, a branch of the larger Bic company, also carved a niche for themselves in the watersports world. Though they’ve since been purchased by Tahe, Bic expertly employed the multi domain strategy for over forty years. 

Why was it a good idea to split these products up into two websites? Well, razors and pens are products used by any average Joe. Kayaks and windsurfers are more high-end products, so it made sense to advertise to these two audiences differently. In this case, the multi-domain strategy allowed Bic to essentially create two identities for themselves. This meant the brand could be successful in multiple markets without compromising quality in either sphere.

Ranking more than once

When it comes to website strategizing, visibility is the name of the game. As smaller businesses, we should always strive to appear early on in Google search results. One benefit of multi-domain strategies is that they give you the chance to appear in the results more than once. If your business successfully pulls this off, it will give itself a significant edge over competitors. 

Going international

If you have a large customer base in multiple countries, it may be worth it to diverge your brand into multiple domains. For an American company with growing popularity amongst the British, for instance, a domain will make this portion of your audience feel heard, appreciated, and respected. International domains may even be nearly identical, with only small tweaks to match a country’s cultural preferences or spelling conventions.

Single or multi-domain: two strategies with stellar potential

In truth, both of these strategies are advantageous in their own ways. What may work for one company could spell disaster for another, and there is no cheat code for instant success. However, single and multi domain strategies each have clear perks that the other does not, so it all comes down to choosing which benefits will give your company the boost it's looking for. If what you need is a website (or websites!) built with passion and expertise, check out some of the work By The Pixel is proudest of.