One big website or many small niche sites?
When you start out it’s difficult to determine what the best structure allows you to best take advantage of the home-based business opportunities you wish to promote.
One question almost everyone works through is the number and size of the websites that you put together.
Here are some notes from my experience which I hope will help you when the time arrives for you to answer this yourself.
The lower the competition the smaller the website can be.
We have a small site we put together for a member of the family. They sell a real-world niche product. There is almost no competition for this product in their geographic area (or indeed in New Zealand as a whole). A small website with a few links, the right page titles, page URLs, and H1 tags has been enough to keep them close to the top of the first page of Google for as long as it has been up.
I did some paid SEO work for an associate in a similar situation with similar results.
Where there is little competition a simple site a little tweaked for the search engines, appears to perform very well. In this case, there is little need for regular updates, sitemaps, etc. In other words, this is set and forget stuff.
The age of the site is also not too much of an issue. A brand new site will rank quite well for less competitive terms.
For heavily competitive niches it’s quite a different story.
Sites seem to need to be of a reasonable size (more than fifty pages), need to be well SEO’ed, have a steady stream of fresh new links pointing at them, and need to have regular content updates.
To get decent rankings for a competitive term it usually takes six months to a year until the point is reached that the size of the traffic stream is enough to justify all the investment which has gone into it. The age of the site does seem to affect its ability to rank. The older the better.
Content update is especially important if you use social networking to attract visitors. Traffic does rise and fall with update frequency.
Maybe we leave a lot of money on the table, but we are more and more focusing on using passive traffic generation (natural search) for the majority of my traffic.
Two reasons for this.
Firstly we aim to build online sites which have minimal maintenance so we are free to develop more sites. Secondly, natural search has converted a lot better for me than other traffic generation techniques.
You can sometimes get a fresh site to rank for keywords with medium competition. However I’ve found that they will jump up the rankings, then if they don’t get regular links and fresh unique content they drop right back down again and the ongoing traffic is minimal.
One Big Website or Many Small Niche Sites?
For competitive words, you really need a big site that has thousands of links scattered across the net. Directories, Articles, Social Media, YouTube, Images, Blog Comments, Technorati Favorites, Press Releases – you name it you need links in all these places.
There is another phenomenon that others have commented upon and which I’ve observed myself. After a certain point, a good site will become almost self-sustaining. The site is large enough to attract new links just because it’s there. Search engine rankings become quite stable and ranking for new terms of medium competition (long tail and a bit above) becomes relatively easy.
The trouble is this point is a bit like a stock market bottom – no one rings a bell when you are there. I was once told that when you get over 400 visitors per day on a regular basis your site has become established. That seems to be close to the mark for competitive terms.
Your site strategy needs to match the competitiveness of your keywords. Highly competitive keywords need big sites, less competitive terms don’t need anything fancy at all.
What you target is really a matter of what fits your style. Our preference is to target competitive terms, take time to develop the site knowing that there is a high probability of success and that once established the site will remain strong for quite some time.
You should also consider what are the challenges in digital marketing before making a final decision.
One last observation. The rumors are true. Sites with high content (unique written material) seem to do better than those with flash graphics. In fact, some of the most profitable sites we have looked at have had the simplest of layouts.