One big site or several middle size sites for SEO

by ikuret75 18 replies
Hi,
I have an ESL (English as a second language) business in the Japanese market and I sell learning materials. I used to use 2 big keywords "Study English" and "Learn English" and for both I got #1 (Google Japan), until that ugly Penguin walked all over my site(s).

Anyway, it was a mess for a while but I gathered myself and decided to start up again. Now I learned that it is better to have not only quality content, but also many pages. That would also work for Long Tail SEO.

So, my plan now is to create a website which has good quality information about learning/studying English.That part is probably simple.

My question now is if it is better to stick to one big theme when creating the website. What I mean is there are many sub themes which would lead to sales(I know this through my experience with PPC). For example, "Study TOEIC" "English conversation" ""English idioms (or vocabulary or grammar or whatever)"etc. etc. and I could write about them.

I could make a one big website which deals with all of these themes and topics, or I can divide it into maybe 4-5 sub themes and create a website for each. I hear that Google likes a site with specific theme, in that sense I thought dividing it would make more sense. However they are in a way all related (that's why I get conversions through these keywords), so one big website might make sense too if I think of getting good authority later and stick to one big keyword (Study/learn English). I can still get hits with other keywords through "long tail SEO".

I thought of using sub-domains and it would give me the pros of having several websites and it is easier to manage, however if my domain penalized again somehow, then all the websites would be dead (same as using one domain).

Any thoughts/advise would be appreciated.
#search engine optimization #big #seo #site #sites #small
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  • Profile picture of the author lkears11
    Authority sites do seem to be doing better, I've moved alot of my pre-penguin sites together in an attempt to create larger authority looking sites and have done ok so far.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
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      I'm also going more for the authority approach lately, and around that I build some feeder sites but that's more done from a link building perspective then that it really feeds visitors.
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
        Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

        I'm also going more for the authority approach lately, and around that I build some feeder sites but that's more done from a link building perspective then that it really feeds visitors.
        I've been doing that for a few years only I still aim to rank the smaller sites for longtail sub-niche keywords. I have one smaller site where the site is all video tutorials that I created explaining how to use the content on my main sites (two main sites now), that way I get SEO + targeted traffic at the same time.

        Basically I use the smaller sites as a way to tease traffic into following links to my large sites. My small sites are dirt simple, I don't give traffic any options other than following my links to the large sites or close out the browser/tab, nothing more, nothing less.

        The small sites content is real content that I made.
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        • Profile picture of the author nik0
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          Originally Posted by yukon View Post

          I've been doing that for a few years only I still aim to rank the smaller sites for longtail sub-niche keywords. I have one smaller site where the site is all video tutorials that I created explaining how to use the content on my main sites (two main sites now), that way I get SEO + targeted traffic at the same time.
          The link building of the mini sites is a bit of the issue, can get really time consuming.

          Sure I could use my other blog network to rank them but then it all gets indirectly inter linked in such huge circle that it might start to leave footprints.

          My mini sites would be based on deleted domains so they already have some back links of course that might rank those long tails automatically.

          How many pages do you put on your mini sites?
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          • Profile picture of the author yukon
            Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

            The link building of the mini sites is a bit of the issue, can get really time consuming.

            Sure I could use my other blog network to rank them but then it all gets indirectly inter linked in such huge circle that it might start to leave footprints.

            My mini sites would be based on deleted domains so they already have some back links of course that might rank those long tails automatically.

            How many pages do you put on your mini sites?
            I don't really try to have a certain number of pages on my smaller sites, It's whatever pages I need for traffic/content. The small video site is only 14 pages. That particular site was built because I kept getting a lot of questions from traffic so I built the site to answer those questions by making a few short niche tutorials.
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    I would suggest building one authority site with very good backlinks in order to get it ranked high.

    You can also use many more sites, but the investment required to promote those sites will be much larger.

    Generally speaking, authority sites will over time rank much higher, if you use the right mix of links.
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  • Originally Posted by ikuret75 View Post

    I could make a one big website which deals with all of these themes and topics, or I can divide it into maybe 4-5 sub themes and create a website for each. I hear that Google likes a site with specific theme, in that sense I thought dividing it would make more sense. However they are in a way all related (that's why I get conversions through these keywords), so one big website might make sense too if I think of getting good authority later and stick to one big keyword (Study/learn English). I can still get hits with other keywords through "long tail SEO".

    I thought of using sub-domains and it would give me the pros of having several websites and it is easier to manage, however if my domain penalized again somehow, then all the websites would be dead (same as using one domain).

    Any thoughts/advise would be appreciated.

    I'd forget the sub-domains

    What you have described is perfect for a WordPress silo site with 4 or 5 silos

    Silo sites have been around since about 2008 - Amazon.com is a silo site - so is About.com, DMV, etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author ikuret75
      Originally Posted by affilliate-script View Post

      I'd forget the sub-domains

      What you have described is perfect for a WordPress silo site with 4 or 5 silos

      Silo sites have been around since about 2008 - Amazon.com is a silo site - so is About.com, DMV, etc.
      Thank you for this info. I did not know about siloing and now learning about it. Really a great help!
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  • Profile picture of the author Slin
    I would go with a large authoritative site. The more I focus on creating large sites like this, the better I seem to do.
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  • Profile picture of the author DizenSounds
    How did putting all of your eggs in one basket work for you the last time around?

    You are asking us whether you should do that again or diversify yourself. I think you know the answer?

    Sure authority websites work, but what most people think of as an authority here isn't the true definition of authority. Big budgets can create authority, most of us on here don't have anywhere close to the budget or manhours to achieve that.

    The fact is that if you want to rely solely on Google as a significant traffic source, or any one source of traffic for that matter, then you are risking everything. I would personally diversify where possible both traffic sources and sources for income.

    Build silo sites as you are asking and test different strategies for all of them for testing purposes, you'll be able to learn a lot if you do it right.
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  • Profile picture of the author ndeven27
    I stick to small niche sites where i can target long tail keywords. It has been working great for me, specially in those niches that are less competitive.
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  • Profile picture of the author danielcollins
    Originally Posted by ikuret75 View Post

    Hi,
    I have an ESL (English as a second language) business in the Japanese market and I sell learning materials. I used to use 2 big keywords "Study English" and "Learn English" and for both I got #1 (Google Japan), until that ugly Penguin walked all over my site(s).

    Anyway, it was a mess for a while but I gathered myself and decided to start up again. Now I learned that it is better to have not only quality content, but also many pages. That would also work for Long Tail SEO.

    So, my plan now is to create a website which has good quality information about learning/studying English.That part is probably simple.

    My question now is if it is better to stick to one big theme when creating the website. What I mean is there are many sub themes which would lead to sales(I know this through my experience with PPC). For example, "Study TOEIC" "English conversation" ""English idioms (or vocabulary or grammar or whatever)"etc. etc. and I could write about them.

    I could make a one big website which deals with all of these themes and topics, or I can divide it into maybe 4-5 sub themes and create a website for each. I hear that Google likes a site with specific theme, in that sense I thought dividing it would make more sense. However they are in a way all related (that's why I get conversions through these keywords), so one big website might make sense too if I think of getting good authority later and stick to one big keyword (Study/learn English). I can still get hits with other keywords through "long tail SEO".

    I thought of using sub-domains and it would give me the pros of having several websites and it is easier to manage, however if my domain penalized again somehow, then all the websites would be dead (same as using one domain).

    Any thoughts/advise would be appreciated.
    Dont take risk to go with 1 big website because you never know which link will be penalized and when your domain get penalty. So its good to go with different sites. And make sure you are going to publish informative content on it.
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  • Profile picture of the author ikuret75
    Thank you for your advice guys - yes I know the risk of using one domain/site.
    Actually I did not specify to avoid it complicated, but I used to have many sites as the gateway to my main site. They are all hit by penguin. At the end of the day it is not that difficult to several websites, but it is not easy to apply different SEO strategies to each site.

    Also recently I have seen a lot of people pointing out small niche sites are beaten by small pages of a big (authority) site. That's why I was/am leaning toward to have a big site.

    Please let me know more of your opinions! Thank you.
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    • Originally Posted by ikuret75 View Post

      Thank you for your advice guys - yes I know the risk of using one domain/site.
      Actually I did not specify to avoid it complicated, but I used to have many sites as the gateway to my main site. They are all hit by penguin. At the end of the day it is not that difficult to several websites, but it is not easy to apply different SEO strategies to each site.

      Also recently I have seen a lot of people pointing out small niche sites are beaten by small pages of a big (authority) site. That's why I was/am leaning toward to have a big site.

      I don't see any risk with having 1 big site and staying white hat

      However, you could have several mini-niche sites - not too broad, but not micro-niche

      1 big site is going to be easier to rank, but smaller sites can be built quicker

      "Learn English" is the better of the two search phrases, and could be covered comprehensively with as few as 6 silos and 5 or more articles in each silo - so not what I'd call a "big" site

      If I was going to build a big silo site, I'd go further up the keyword tree - then your 2 search phrases would be silo landing pages (secondary search phrases)
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      • Profile picture of the author ikuret75
        Originally Posted by affilliate-script View Post

        I don't see any risk with having 1 big site and staying white hat

        However, you could have several mini-niche sites - not too broad, but not micro-niche

        1 big site is going to be easier to rank, but smaller sites can be built quicker

        "Learn English" is the better of the two search phrases, and could be covered comprehensively with as few as 6 silos and 5 or more articles in each silo - so not what I'd call a "big" site

        If I was going to build a big silo site, I'd go further up the keyword tree - then your 2 search phrases would be silo landing pages (secondary search phrases)
        Thank you again for your advice, you have been a great help. I have been considering to make a bigger site actually dealing with all English learning related topics - which involves grammar, idioms, other phrases, listening comprehension etc. That would be more time consuming but I guess more reward later (so I hope).

        What I mean by "the risk" is, even you stick to white hat, it is still possible to get penalized. I have seen many site owners complaining about it - and nowadays there is negative SEO. But that said I guess it is much safer now because I'll just stick to white hat.
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        • Originally Posted by ikuret75 View Post

          Thank you again for your advice, you have been a great help. I have been considering to make a bigger site actually dealing with all English learning related topics - which involves grammar, idioms, other phrases, listening comprehension etc. That would be more time consuming but I guess more reward later (so I hope).

          What I mean by "the risk" is, even you stick to white hat, it is still possible to get penalized. I have seen many site owners complaining about it - and nowadays there is negative SEO. But that said I guess it is much safer now because I'll just stick to white hat.

          If you were going to build an adsense, amazon, etc. site, then I'd say keep sites to about 40 pages, including privacy, contact, etc. - those are the sites at risk

          As you are selling your own product, and not competing with Google (travel, shopping, etc.) you are pretty safe

          You could launch a silo site with home page, 3 silos and 5 articles in each silo, plus the mandatory pages - which is only about 20 pages in total - then add an extra silo, and 5 or more articles for the silo, on an ongoing basis, until your site is built out - its not like a blog which is never finished, and you have to keep posting or the traffic stops

          The thing to do now is blueprint your site - then you'll know just how big its going to be eventually
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  • Profile picture of the author validseo
    The main consideration for this question in my opinion is "Is there any keyword overlap between the multiple sites?"

    By default the google search filters usually limit the number of results to 2 per domain name (not hostname)... there are exceptions to the filter's applicability, but in general this is the case. Having one big site limits you to 2 results per search term. Having more domains with unique content targeting the same search terms can yield many more results in the SERPs... The followup question for your niche is that if being #1 and #2 doesn't win you the traffic then is being #4, #5, #6 going to help either. For ecom I think it is beneficial, but for entertainment sites or information sites probably much less so.

    Another huge advantage in the multiple site approach is the eventual benefits in cross linking... Footer links still work (unless your pages are huge... then use left nav links instead)... I have 30 websites ranging from PR4-PR7 and are made up of 250K unique content pages. If have it build so I can very easily sprinkle 50K backlinks over here and 100K backlinks over there... You still get this as one big site, but somehow the effect seems less pronounced.

    I also tend to think the multiple sites allows for better keyword context siloing... The one big site about everything is pretty difficult to pull off, but niche sites tend to move up the rankings fairly quickly in my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author patco
    I would go with 1 site only, because it would be really hard to work on 10+ sites at the same time... Especially if you want to really achieve something big, you should post content AT LEAST once per 3-4 days... Which will be hard (not now, but after 6 months for example!)
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