How To Dominate The Entire First Page of Google Search Results

In the past few weeks we’ve been asked by several people if there are any SEO penalties associated with having your website spread across multiple domains. If I hear the same question several times, that’s usually a sign that the answer might make a useful blog post.

For example, travel photographer Gavin Gough has his own website using the domain name ““, and he has integrated his PhotoShelter website, which is using the domain ““. Is this an SEO problem, or an opportunity?


This may surprise you, but you (like Gavin) can actually benefit from an arrangement like this.

Part of the Google algorithm is a concept called “Quality Deserves Diversity” (QDD), a very real consideration made by Google to improve the results that appear on the first page of a Google search. To make it very simple, they don’t want one single website to dominate the entire first page of results. They want to provide diversity and balance, so they intentionally limit the number of results that will be displayed from a single domain.

If you search for “freelance travel photographer“, Gavin’s website shows up twice – in the first and second positions for his website “”. But if you search for the name “Gavin Gough” (which, a potential client may do if they’re looking for more information about him) he has all 10 positions on the first page of results.

How did he do this?

He’s using multiple domains and several other services that he directly controls. In addition to his main website, Google (in keeping with the QDD approach) is linking to his PhotoShelter website, his photo school website, his Twitter account, his Facebook account, his Vimeo account, and his member page on

From a brand management perspective, having control of every link on that first page is ideal – because you can control the message, and prevent any potential negative comments (or your competition) from showing up. Because you can’t occupy all 10 places with a single domain, you need other domains to help you out.

Trying to build up as much SEO “juice” as possible for a single domain name is an old-school mentality. (One that I very much subscribed to a few years ago.)

It’s not a bad thing to have results from many different domains as long as you “control” them. When we talk about SEO today, we also talk about “managing your online brand.” Maximizing where you appear is very important for your online brand because segments of your audience hang out in different places. For example, people find Gavin Gough because he has content on Vimeo — people who never knew about him wouldn’t have found him on his website simply because they weren’t there.

So, SEO aside, having a presence in multiple places means you can reach people who might not otherwise find you from your website. For example, if you are a still photographer who is transitioning into motion with your new D-SLR, posting your work on Vimeo is a great idea because it’s full of like-minded people, and media outlets like Engadget find content on those sites to post on their blogs.

Effective SEO is when you show up in search results using search terms that you want to rank for. Where it comes from is almost irrelevant, in my opinion, as long as you are controlling your brand effectively. If you gain a client who finds you through your Facebook page, or your PhotoShelter website, or a Twitter account, it’s a win for you.

Grover Sanschagrin, co-founder of PhotoShelter, contributes several articles to the PhotoShelter blog each week. Follow him on Twitter at @heygrover.
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There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Will Ablett at 4:48 pm

    Although impressive, this is relatively easy to do. All you need to do is get yourself on the major social and other networking sites with your unique name and it’ll happen. For example, I occupy 7/10 of the first page results for my name, Will Ablett. It’s much trickier, however, to get yourself in and occupy multiple top ten results for terms that people actually search for; a skill I have yet to master. If you search for ‘Bournemouth Wedding Photographer’, I’m nowhere to be seen. So although potential clients will find plenty of information about me by searching my name; they’re unlikely to know who I am.

  2. Martin P Wilson - M-dash at 3:20 am

    I have already done what is suggested and my name Martin P Wilson gets 9 of the first 10 results on the first page and 15 across the first two pages on Google searches. As suggested most of the first five or so are all different sites, so it works. I started using my middle initial to separate myself from the dozens of other simply Martin Wilsons. By doing what is recommended here I have gone from 1-2 results on the first page to taking over the first page; I have done it over the last year.

  3. Daniel Lowe at 2:58 pm

    A lot of SEO is based on linkage, i.e. does an important domain link to your site and vice versa? Using this philosophy it’s wise to code links in everything you do.. link your Vimeo to your website to your Flickr blog, and vice versa. In the “old days” there were a lot of tricks of this sort (such as putting many pages on your site that “fish” and point to your main content), but the SEO engines have caught up with most of them. I built websites for 15 years for clients like MCI, AT&T, Verizon, and the Centers for Disease Control.

  4. Grover Sanschagrin at 9:50 pm

    I don’t think it’s “impressive”, I am just using it as an example. Obviously, the name of the game is to show up in all 10 spots for your chosen search terms, not your name (which is much more difficult) — but everything that I’ve written in the story applies to how Google treats everything – your name or your chosen search terms.

  5. Per-BKWine at 3:26 am

    On the other hand, for a user/web surfer this is not really a good thing. If I am looking for something and all the answers come from the same source it is really not much use for me. On the contrary, it is likely that the user would find it quite annoying and would rather have some diversity in the results. (That’s the basic thinking behind Google’s QDD principle, remember?) So, given that this is really annoying for the user it is likely that Google will soon find a way to make this not happen.

  6. Achraf at 7:28 pm

    I do see the needs to “Authorize” ourselves. So like what you have mentioned we should “claim” ourselves before other impostors took our identity!

    Thanks for the list. There are a few that I have yet to sign up. 🙂

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