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Can I Combine Two Well Performing Sites into One?

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This member asks if it is advisable to combine two WordPress sites that both perform well into a single site. Is there a potential SEO downside? Can you save time managing the sites? We discuss this and the option of using WordPress Multi Site to reduce the administrative work load.

Video Transcript

Okay well, right now, what’s most pressing is… and I had just put that in the question thing a couple of seconds ago, this concerns my 2 business websites. As you might remember, they’re brokerage sites, real estate broker sites and I originally signed up at Bluehost with Rockland County Real Estate. That is what I thought was going to be the only domain. And then about a year later, I started… just a couple of months ago, I started ourhamlets.com which is an area that I live with condos. And as most people probably see, it’s just becoming a maintenance issue and I’m the one that does all the webmastering. So I’m just wondering, can they somehow be combined without me losing position? I do have a nice position in Google. Can one be a subdomain and another… I don’t know whether this is outside your area of expertise but I just thought I’d ask because I’d like to somehow combine them.

Well, what is the benefit in your mind to combining them?

Well, when I have to do updates, I won’t only have to update one site and I don’t mean just adding new content. I mean the update from WordPress…mostly for updating purposes and Rockland County Real Estate… it would make sense to incorporate them but I’m on the first page of Google for those terms so you know what they say when it’s not broken, don’t fix it?

Yeah. Well you know, you really do have 2 conversations here, right? The first one is well, what’s the best thing to do for Search Engine Optimization? The other one is you know, what’s the easiest way to accommodate that? And in terms of search engine optimization, I don’t think that one site is going to do as well as 2 sites. And the reason is that your Rockland County site is more general than your ourhamlet site. So your ourhamlet site is you know, more specific site and Google likes specificity like that. The chances are that you will definitely lose ground if you transfer so if you tried to put all of your… the same content in the Rockland County site and abandon the ourhamlet site you know, you might recover from that eventually and you might recover from it in a couple of months but you’re definitely going to lose out you know, in the short term. And the 301 redirect conversation that we had last weekend or last week that we’re going to finish this week you know, might be a way of adjusting for that but usually a 301 redirect is best for dealing with issues within a site rather than trying to transfer the Google juice from one site to another. And I would say that you’re probably way better off with keeping them as 2 sites from a Google standpoint.

Now from a maintenance standpoint you know, as long as you have the stomach to learn new stuff about this, it probably is possible for you to create in a WordPress multisite instead of 2 individual WordPress sites. You could… well, not on Bluehost… well, maybe you could on Bluehost. I’d think about that more in just a minute.

I’m not necessarily married to Bluehost, if in the long run, it’s going to save me time…

Well, you have to weigh the long run time versus the short run time, right? Because setting up a multisite is quite a bit different than setting up a regular WordPress site and developing 2 multisites is probably more work than developing… I mean, developing one multisite with 2 sites in it is probably more work than developing 2 multisites independently or 2 regular sites independently. Now, developing 100 sites in a multisite is a lot less work than developing 100 sites independently but when you’re just talking about 2 sites you know, the economy of scale isn’t there for you.

However, on the maintenance end of it, you can update WordPress once with multisite and you can back up stuff once and you can update plugins once. And so, you do have that… the return of doing your regular maintenance only one time but you have the initial cost of you know, learning some fairly complicated new stuff and rebuilding the sites because you… neither one of the sites will be able to be used as a WordPress multisite base because they’re both too well-established. I mean, multisite needs to be installed from scratch and activated within 30 days of its installation. And if multisite isn’t activated within 30 days then you really have to you know, start all over again.

So multisite is an option for you to do that but frankly, I think that if you’re talking about 2 sites, you’re just better off just keeping them as 2 separate sites and maintaining them simultaneously because there’s not a learn… I mean, there’s not a lot of time to save so you have a big loss, I think, a big potential loss in combining them into one site. Multisite solves that problem but on the other hand, it’s another problem. If you have lots of sites then multisite would certainly be the right choice. But with 2, it’s a lot different.

It’s going to need to get to be a regular attender at your… I’m just now getting on board so I’m getting a headache listening to you. I think I’ll leave well enough alone.

Well, if you are… I mean, the trick to site maintenance is to being on your site every week. And if you’re on your site every week then you know, you’re only updating one or two things you know, every time you’re in or you know, at least… you don’t actually have to update very often and then updating is very quick. The thing is that updating… if you let it sit for 6 months and you’ve gone through 2 rounds of WordPress changes and you know, lots of updates on your plugins and you forgot how to back your system up so now you got to go back and figure out how to back everything up. You know, that kind of maintenance definitely takes a long time. But if you keep, essentially, exercise that muscle every week you know, keep comfortable using those tools, site maintenance is just minutes a week as long as you stay on top of it. It becomes more complicated when it’s not done you know, essentially in real time.

Right, okay.

Okay?

What if I was talking about 5 sites, not 2 sites? In other words, is there a point of return or does it have to be a lot of sites that you…

Well, I think there probably is a point of return. I don’t know if it’s 5 sites but it probably is. 5 sites is probably in there you know, I’m not sure how many sites I have but I probably have something short to 100 sites. And because they are scattered across a whole bunch of different hosts and they’re all using different versions of WordPress and different versions of Thesis and so on and so forth you know, I mean, I just update the site as I need to work on it. And I suppose theoretically, I could incorporate all of that into 1 or you know, into a few select numbers it would be easy to stay on top of but it’s just… 5 sites might be, I don’t know really. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure where the return gets and where your breakeven point is.

Okay.

But I know I spent thinking that my breakeven point would be fairly short. I spent quite a bit of time setting up a multisite only to discover that really, I was just turning so much more time into that project than it would have taken me to just do them independently that I just stopped it.

Oh okay, well there’s my answer.

Yeah.

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