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Are multiple sites SEO spam?

spamRobert Ambrogi recently wrote that having multiple sites for a single law firm is ‘SEO spam’.

As the owner of a law firm which has more than one site, Azrights and  Azrights Trade Marks, I was immediately interested.

In Ambrogi’s opinion multiple sites are ‘confusing and misleading to customers‘.

I disagree and would suggest Ambrogi reconsider this question.  There are several advantages in having different websites both from the perspective of the business owner and that of the user.   By using the term ‘spam’, and suggesting multiple sites are only for the search engines rather than for users, Ambrogi overlooks some key benefits to users.

First let’s be clear what we mean by ‘spam’.  Tim Mayer, Director of Product Management for Yahoo Search defined spam as ‘pages created deliberately to trick the search engine into offering inappropriate, redundant or poor quality search results’.

In arguing that law firms with multiple sites are spamming, Ambrogi is effectively saying that these sites are not helpful or useful to potential clients.  I agree that businesses that have multiple websites providing customers with the same content and information are spamming, and are purely designed to increase SEO rankings.

However, to back up his point, Ambrogi cites, M. Stephen Cho, a law firm that has a total of nine websites none of which provide the same content.  Each site provides its audience with a completely different set of information.

The Cho firm has one main site, and the other eight websites are focused on different areas of the law, such as divorce law, criminal defense and bankruptcy.

For example, the Cho firm site for divorce law is specifically designed so that it is relevant for anyone who is looking for legal advice on issues surrounding divorce.  The site has a blog news section, which specifically focuses on issues surrounding this area of the law and a section for case results reviewing previous divorce and custody cases.

A useful reason for having different websites is that they can be targeted at different groups of clients looking for particular products and services. The advantage of having a specialized site for a particular service means potential clients will be able to find exactly what they are looking for straight away and only see information relevant to their particular problem or query.  By having different websites for each particular service area, the Cho firm ensures that the information at hand for its clients is completely relevant for the service they are seeking.

None of the sites of the Cho firm has duplicate content, so I fail to see how they could be said to be spamming.  As long as the content on each site is different, and is relevant and useful to different searchers, all that the firm is doing by having multiple sites is helping clients find what they want more easily. It is a type of signposting similar to putting signs on a motorway to indicate that there is a hotel or restaurant within one mile.

By having specific sites that hone in on different areas of the law, this enables full service law firms or those that have more than one niche area, to create sites with niche focus.

Rather than users having to navigate a main site to find the exact product or service they want, separate sites makes it easier for them to quickly find what they are searching for.

The nature of the Internet and Google means that people are increasingly impatient to find what they want without much effort.  Few people linger on sites for long, and if they have to spend too long working out how to navigate a site to get the information they need, they are likely to be off in search of websites with greater clarity where less effort is needed to find what is wanted.

Yes, multiple sites are a way to increase SEO, but what is wrong with trying to advertise your business and ensure customers can find your page easier?