Demystifying Domains: Should You Have One or Many?

For national and regional brands, the question of how to provide a local experience for customers has almost always been answered through business development efforts. But as far back as 2016, 68% of senior living marketing teams said their website was the most effective way to market their community.1 Of course, digital marketing and the importance of an online presence has only grown since then. But finding the right strategy for presenting as a local business online has always been difficult.

The truth is that your brand is a local business. You create local jobs, you hire local employees, and you serve local communities in a very real way. But while your national business may operate like a local business in the physical sense, you may not be providing that local experience for buyers online.

The fact is, seniors and their loved ones are looking for your services online. And they are most certainly looking locally for the best community to meet their needs.  In terms of both quality and customer service, 96% of people believe local businesses do a better job of serving customers than national chains.2 One way to effectively communicate your local impact is through your domain strategy.

There are advantages to both single and multi-domain strategies. What you choose for your senior living organization should be the right fit to support your marketing goals. However, for large operators with multiple locations, especially those with communities in different geographic areas or with different target audiences, 

What are the Advantages of a Single Domain Strategy?

From managing the site to empowering your corporate senior living brand, a single powerful domain can be effective for several reasons.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Single domain sites naturally have more indexed pages, images, videos, backlinks and other critical ranking factors. Replicating these SEO-boosting features in a unique way across multiple sites can be a challenge, and search engines don’t like domains that extensively duplicate content.
  • Web traffic: When you have a solid SEO strategy in place, a single domain website will generally yield more traffic than one of the websites from a multi-domain approach. Capturing traffic for one site, rather than dividing the traffic among many sites, means the single domain site commands more web traffic.
  • Domain authority: The larger the website, the more domain authority you’ll command. And the more domain authority, the higher your site will rank on the search engine results pages. Google’s algorithm favors large, authoritative domains over small mom-and-pop websites.
  • Link building: With a single domain strategy, any time another website references your site, your domain is embedded. This is far better for your digital footprint than linking a series of microsites from several different domains.
  • Brand identity: A single domain site helps build brand identity and reinforces the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. Branding is all about consistency. With one domain, your brand recognition will increase and improve.
  • Affordability: Managing and maintaining one site is undeniably less expensive than dealing with several different sites. In addition to the initial and ongoing fees, your costs in tech support, content creation, and staff time increase as you add more domains.

There are several advantages to choosing one domain over multiple domains. But when it comes to the most effective way to promote your individual communities, the debate is not so clear cut.

What are the Advantages of a Multi-domain Strategy?

For many senior living operators, especially those with communities spanning multiple towns and states, a multi-domain strategy is the best choice to create unique local digital identities for your locations. In this case, you want to emphasize that your prospective residents and their families  are dealing with an authentic local business.

  • Local SEO: Most people looking for senior living concentrate on one specific area. Having a unique domain for each of your locations can crystallize your local SEO efforts and help pre-qualify your leads. 
  • More keywords and phrases:  Local traffic continues to grow, because there are more keywords and phrases for locally-based searches. With a lot of work and effort, you can rank for a large metropolitan area. But in smaller markets, you can rank multiple cities and towns just by having pages focusing on each one.
  • Brand identity: Yes, we talked about brand identity as a positive in the single domain section. But brand identity is also valuable on the local level. Creating a strong local brand strategy builds connection with your target geographic market. It also helps create deeper connections with prospective residents and their families.
  • Customization: Even within a national brand, no two senior living communities are the same. And the way they’re presented online shouldn’t be either. With multi-domain strategies, you can focus on what makes each location special. Highlight the local amenities and history. Emphasize the connection to local values and your involvement in the local community.
  • Google: Research performed and data collected consistently indicates that Google prefers local-only websites. A clear call-to-action, content specific to one location, and a single-focus site is easier for the search algorithm to understand. Plus, each site is only trying to organically rank for one specific geographic area rather than the whole country. 

If you’re concerned that separate local sites will cannibalize corporate website traffic, don’t be. The local sites will rank well for many keywords, but not all of them. In fact, a multi-domain strategy lets you focus on a wider geographic area on the main corporate site. 

As a result, searchers high up in the sales funnel are sent to the corporate site where they can access their local community from your Communities page. Another benefit? The local sites are taking up spots in local search your competitors would have otherwise filled

The main roadblock to a multi-domain strategy is the difficulty of managing several sites well.  Leverage industry knowledge along with a team skilled in managing multiple website and digital strategies by partnering with an experienced senior living digital agency. To learn more about your domain strategy options and what’s right for your community, call us at 888.307.7304 to schedule a discovery call with our strategy team.


For a list of references, please contact us.