I often see this question pop up online: “Should I build one large website or many small ones”. In his article we will be discussing content websites in particular and not online shops or forums or anything else.
The logic usually goes something along the lines of should you have one general purpose website for all your content or various smaller niche sites. When I say smaller niche sites I don’t mean small as in size I mean small as in focus. Let’s take a web design and development blog as an example. One large site can encompass design, development, software, programming languages etc. Whereas should you split it up into smaller niches you can have one site for design one for programming, one for software reviews, one for freelancing designers etc.
I used to operate a website in the creative arts in design niche called (Puryel); this website had numerous categories and a few hundred pages. Here was what the entire website covered:
Advertising & Promotion
Bitmap / Raster Graphics
Cartooning and Comics
Fonts and Typography
For Creative Freelancers
Monetize Your Creativity
Web Design and Related
As you can see there is enough variation to split it into at least ten websites.
Which is best?
A lot of people like to build what they call one large “authority site” while others don’t like to keep all their eggs in one basket. Each situation is different niche-to-niche (you cannot compare an entertainment/celebrity site to a farming website). Each person also has different skills running the website and different strategies.
What I tried first
I first tried building one large website containing various smaller but related niches. I was not to happy with the results as it was quite broad and included too many different topics which is sometimes difficult to sell ads against if the adverts varies too much.
What I then thought
I then wanted to split up the various niches into subdomains using WordPress multiuser. This means each site is on its own, has its own analytics and adverts can be sold across the various niches. I quickly abandoned this idea as I wanted separate sites.
What I eventually did
When faced with a similar dilemma, instead of splitting the website into ten small ones, I split it into five medium ones. If I did not have enough content, I would bundle various different smaller topics together on one site.
Now it looked something like this
Site 1 – Signage website – medium size site focusing on one niche – Has potential to become an authority site.
Site 2 – Printing website – medium size site focusing on one niche – Has potential to become an authority site.
Site 3 – Puryel – medium site focusing on various niches – not too excited about this site but it might get some long tail searches
Site 4 – Guerrilla Marketing website– smaller site focusing on one niche
While small I’m still exited enough about site 4 as I have lots of ideas for it that it resides on its own domain. However I noticed that while I have some content for it, it is not as much as the other sites. There is also already a strong site in that niche so I decide to turn it into a regional site (on a country 2nd level domain) as I feel as it will do better there.
Then I notice Site 3 has a lot of country specific content as well that will be better suited to a regional site, so I put that also on a country 2nd level domain and I add Site 5 – Example.co.za
It must be noted that this is no longer my top project, so I was willing to try various new things, like add the sites on new generic top-level domains (.press & .rocks)
While I would have preferred better .com domains that are currently available to register, getting a decent domain without paying a lot of money is difficult. And as I’ve said it’s not a high-priority project so I’m willing to try various things.
In future I will deal with the benefits of doing this, pros & cons as well as the strategy of using various different individual sites instead of one large one.
Photo credit: Katarzyna Lipińska