We’re sure you’ve heard the announcement from the National Association of Realtors about their new domains offered exclusively to NAR members. This is a potentially exciting opportunity, but it’s one that needs some teasing out. It also brings up the topic of multiple sites – will they help or hinder your SEO?

New NAR Domains: Proceed with Caution

Earlier this summer, Inman News penned an article about the National Association of Realtors’ promotion of ‘.realtor’ domains. As you’ve probably heard, NAR is offering these domains exclusively to NAR members in an effort to increase its agents’ credibility with customers and search engines. They started assigning these domains in late September, and the registration is free for one year to the first 500,000 Realtors who claim one. Before you jump on the bandwagon, you should decide if a ‘.realtor’ domain is right for you. It’s hard to say at this point whether these domains really will “change the way consumers search and use the Internet.” In fact, they might not change anything at all. Let’s break it down: Pros:

  1. The domains are being provided by a trusted source in the real estate world.
  2. If the domains are indeed the wave of the future and catch on, you’re better off grabbing them early.
  3. The free stand-alone profile site that NAR is offering might present yet another way for you to show up in search results.

Cons:

  1. Don’t expect to be able to scoop up geographic or generic domains. The NAR is keeping a tight leash on domain names and will only offer ones related to your name as an agent or business.
  2. It’s unlikely that consumers will be looking specifically for these domains, at least in the short-term.
  3. Any potential SEO value the domains or stand-alone sites may have is untested at this point.
  4. The free profile site could divert traffic away from your primary website.

A word of caution: if you decide to claim a ‘.realtor’ domain, do not make the new domain your primary domain. Changing your primary domain will negatively impact your SEO. If you plan to claim a ‘.realtor’ domain, make sure to approach it very carefully. You need to either use a 301 redirect – so that people who type it in will land on your main site – or you should point the ‘.realtor’ domain to the free profile site that comes with it (and keep it separate). Until the benefits of the domain are proven, we recommend claiming your brand’s ‘.realtor’ domain without making it your primary domain. Which brings me to my next question…

Is Having Multiple Sites a Good Idea?

It sounded like you just told me that the free NAR profile site might possibly be okay. Does this mean that more sites is a good idea? No! Owning several sites is widely considered to dilute the value of any one of them. Sound bad? It is. In the old days of SEO, companies would often build out several (if not MANY) smaller sites of questionable value to be able to connect them and benefit from having more links. Nowadays, search engines have evolved their algorithms to devalue this tactic along with the resulting plethora of spammy sites littering the Internet. However, having a company or agent profile page on a widely trusted, high-traffic site is a little different. It’s often better to have a presence on those sites and use it to direct traffic to your website and your listings than to be absent altogether. Sure, you’re a small fish in a big pond, but at least you’re in the pond. Similarly, having a small number of separate sites isn’t necessarily bad, especially if you’ve got the right approach. Each site should have its own value: unique, focused content that provides some value beyond what your other site(s) provide. In short, they should serve clearly differentiated, individual purposes. Our recommendation is to concentrate your efforts on building out one high quality, powerful site. Make your site informative and authoritative, and it will naturally attract more links and more search engine authority. Pour your resources into producing lots of great content on a regular basis. Ensure your site incorporates listings and provides an easy way for you to manage both content and leads. The results: time savings, cost savings, and better potential for high search engine visibility.