After 4 years of doing 30+ real estate speaking events per year, patterns start to emerge on questions. But no single question comes close to how many times I’ve been asked about multiple domains. I believe that no single issue in technology are Realtors more confused by then their domain names.
The Domain Grab
Just like in the days of the Homestead Act, when everyone went out and tried to find what would become their property, there was a mass land grab in domain names. But unlike the Homestead act, you could buy as many as you wanted and at just $10 a year, it was cheap to stake your claim (No worry of Cholera, Dysentery, Fording the River, or Hunting for food). I’ve seen brokerages and agents with hundreds of domains in their account. All creatively different ways to say theircityrealestate.com. There’s no problem in playing defense to prevent your competitors getting these domains, but where things go awry is when agents start to believe the more they own with their special keywords, the better they will do in SEO.
Forwarding keyword rich domain names to your main site does not help that site rank higher.
As with most things in life, there are a couple caveats. Assuming there has never been any content on the domain, and assuming there are no links going to the domain you plan to forward, then the above holds true. This should be the case most of the time. And to be clear, it would be a waste of your time to try and generate links to the domain you are forwarding. You’d be better served getting links to your real site. (There are opportunities in finding domains with lots of good inbound links that other agents have let expire. This is where research comes into play.)
So again, it’s not wrong to have a bunch of domains. In fact, a great idea would be to build small information sites about different neighborhoods and link back to your main site for search. This would take some work, but could definitely help you gain traction in these small markets since few if any other agents are concentrating on them. Another idea is to forward neighborhood specific domains to the results for that neighborhood of homes for sale on your main site. It wouldn’t help your SEO, but you’d have an easy way of getting people to the specific content they are looking for. (This also works great on neighborhood specific print campaigns.)