A question that I get asked fairly regularly is “how many websites should I run? Am I better with one website or lots of little ones?” The question has some different aspects, so, as someone who runs more than one website, I’ll try to share some of my experience.
If you are brand new, or even if you’ve been doing this for a while, and you aren’t having much luck, my advice is to do exactly what Lynn Terry says and concentrate on just one website. You need to concentrate on making this website as complete as possible. No website will ever be finished, but it can reach a point where it covers everything it needs to and just runs in low maintenance auto pilot mode. The tricky part is figuring out if the website has reached its earning potential or not. If you are ranking in the top 5 for your most profitable and sought after keywords, you might be there. If you have set your website up to be an industry leader, and it’s the brand people think of when they think of your niche, then you definitely are there. Sometimes, if your space is dominated by large brands with a larger staff, higher budgets, and an offline marketing component, it’s hard if not impossible for a small guy to break into the top results. Sometimes competing at that level costs you more time then you will make back in dollars, but that’s something you have to figure out on your own.
Hopefully, along the way of building your first successful website, you learn to do two things: 1. minimize the amount of work and maintenance your website needs and 2. how to outsource effectively. When you are first starting out, you usually have more time than money and end up doing things yourself. It’s pretty rare that you find someone who can write well, do design and graphics, and understands marketing and information architecture. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and figuring that out is part of the learning process. Learn what your weaknesses are. Those should be the things you outsource first. Learning to outsource and remain profitable is a skill you also need to learn. In fact, I think it’s the biggest lesson people can learn from the leaked AOL document (see what you can learn from content farms).
Once you have your website ranking for its terms, it’s near the top of its earnings potential, and you have employees or subcontractors who can keep it running without your day to day intervention, then its time to start thinking about building or buying another one. In the olden days, it used to be sexy to be an SEO with thousands of churn and burn websites. Now, I’m not saying that’s not a money making strategy but, unless you are there now or have access to a lot of tools to create that kind of stuff, it’s probably not worth it. The time it takes to get a spammy website to rank isn’t that much shorter than a good brand-able one, and the brand-able one will last longer unless you use high risk tactics on it.
At this stage of the game, Google is heavily biased towards brand websites or websites that at least mimic signs of being a brand. There is so much emphasis on these signals that I strongly recommend having a smaller amount of quality websites as opposed to a large quantity of crappy ones. This doesn’t mean you should build one huge sprawling website. It means you should focus on quality: start out with evergreen content, mix in seasonal content, and linkbait no matter how boring your subject is. Do content audits and regularly prune out the under-performing pages and keep your evergreen content updated. You want a fast, lean shark who can be large but deadly. You don’t want to be a fat, bloated whale of a website that’s slow to move or adapt. This doesn’t mean I recommend you have only one website–after all, a diversified income stream is better than one that comes from one source. It just means I think you need to be sure a website supports itself before you move your focus on to something else.
So what are the takaways from this post:
- Do regular content audits, prune dead or under-performing pages, and update out dated ones regularly.
- Build links on regular basis even if you have a boring topic.
- Outsource skills where you are weakest first. Look to keeping the maintenance as low as possible.
- Once you have top rankings and can do all of the above profitably, look to expand.
- It’s better to have fewer, high quality sites than a greater number of low quality websites.