What is sister site? Meaning, benefits, SEO effects and examples

What is a sister site?

Sister sites are a highly valuable investment for companies that want to grow their business. Sister websites are interrelated sites that segment products, services, or locations for easier customer access, better search rankings or better return on investment. Listing these offerings in specific niche site landing pages helps customers find the content they want or need. Or it helps expand the reach of the product or service to more customers. And more customers usually means higher profits.

When and why do you call it a sister site?

In much the same way as sister companies are usually owned and operated by the same parent company, so too are sister websites usually owned and operated by the same company. The sibling reference signifies the close relationship between both entities. A sister website relationship is comprised of at least two separate websites but can include dozens, hundreds or even thousands. Each website has a different URL (website address). They usually have different, or slightly different content and may even have different or varying designs.

How do sister sites operate?

Sister websites often share the same underlying structure. This is sometimes known as a framework in web development. In the case of websites created in WordPress, there is even a technical basis to explain the close kinship. WordPress calls this system a Multisite Network. A great example is from Harvard University. It allows all faculty and students to create individual blogs within the master university website system. Each blog can share the same basic design and functions. And those assets can be controlled, updated and maintained from one central location. When an update is made to the master template, every individual “sister” blog receives those updates simultaneously.

Sister website linking explained

Because many sister sites use a common template, it is possible for each site to share the same linking structure. In other words, all the links that appear in the header and footer of one site appear in all others. But one site can contain body links to a few or many other sites, as needed or desired. In the case where each sister site is hosted on a separate domain, a site with a strong following and high value to search engines can share some of this value with weaker sister sites. It does this by linking to them, thereby advocating for them in the eyes of the search engines. Although this can also be accomplished with unrelated websites, it’s much easier (and probably less expensive) to do so with sister websites, which are often owned by the same entity.

Features of a sister site

For companies whose websites require a time-consuming and expensive initial setup, having sister websites can spread out the cost across several business sectors or subsidiaries. And for other companies, once an income-generating website is running, similar versions can more easily be created using the same basic components and functions. And one revenue stream can turn to many. This is why there are so many sister sites in the world of online gambling. Creating the initial gaming and operating system can be very expensive. By creating multiple low-cost copies of the same basic website, the casino business can quickly and efficiently offer its services to more potential customers. It might be people in specific niches, with different preferences or in different geographical areas. They can use the sister site of their choice, but all revenue goes to the same parent business.

What are the benefits of sister sites?

By focusing on specific, optimized content, sister websites are more likely to appear among the top results in relevant keyword searches. The more websites a business owns, and the more it can optimize its offerings, the more this will be the case. Another advantage: by building and maintaining several sites within a single niche it is possible to easily saturate and corner smaller, less competitive markets, allowing a company to build income with less effort. In most cases, the main benefits can be boiled down to two – more outreach and/or more income.

What is an example of a sister site?

The highest profile multiple niche site is Google, which has turned Google Search AdWords, AdSense, Webmasters Tools, and more into authoritative independent websites, each contributing to the dominance of the Google brand. As previously mentioned, casinos run many sister sites to reach a wider audience. Many such examples can be found at a website appropriately called Sister Sites.

Additional advantages of developing sister websites

  • They provide the opportunity to better appeal to different audiences’ interests and needs with more targeted and relevant offers.
  • Each individual sister site can potentially optimize the visibility of all other sister sites.
  • They circumvent the pitfall of having one site with too many pages for viewers to find what they’re looking for.
  • They can substantially enhance the number of quality backlinks to a main website, increasing its traffic.
  • As with parallel websites, having sister websites can prevent downtime. If a company’s single website crashes, it is simply shut down for business, but if a sister website goes down for any reason, it may not necessarily affect other sites.
  • They create the potential for building the ‘authority’ of each sister website in its own niche, further improving the credibility of a brand.
  • Once sister sites start ranking highly in local search engines, the parent company can focus on getting into the top results of other geographic and industrial areas, including international markets.

How sister websites generate business growth

Sometimes the products and services of a large company can be so extensive and diverse as to confuse its potential customers. Having sister sites focus on specific business segments can help customers more easily find what they need. Marketing and advertising can be targeted more directly and be more effective. Whereas a single site offering many services might have its pages rank modestly in search engines, sister sites focusing on specific segments might be able to each rank very highly. And as previously illustrated, better ranking usually means more customers and more customers usually mean higher profits.

If your business needs a sister site, OWDT can help

As a web design company, OWDT’s digital marketing experts have the experience and technical knowledge to create a highly effective sister site network. We can help companies reach new customers by focusing on specific niches and business segments. We can help spread out your cost over several websites and expand your reach or improve your products and services’ rankings in search engines. In short, we can help grow your business to new heights.