At first glance, the concept might look promising: Build a site with just a few pages of content, ultra-targeted at one specific keyword, get it ranking quickly and then count the cash. Something like that, right?
I have a few mini-sites myself and I'm not about to claim that they don't work (although I bet this thread would ge more eyeballs with a title like "MINI-SITES ARE DEAD! GOOGLE SLAPPING ALL SNIPERS/XFACTORS!!!!"). However, I'm concentrating much less on mini-sites and much more on content-rich, larger sites, nowadays and here are the reasons why:
Yes, an exact-match domain will help your rankings a lot. I think that's the main reason many are tempted to create a new site for every keyword they go after.
You know what also helps your rankings a lot?
- Domain age
- Lots of relevant content
- Total amount of site backlinks plus interlinking
If you have an already established site, it's much easier to get a new page on that site showing up in the SERP, keywords in the domain name be damned.
Of course, the idea is not just to build a site full of fluff content. The idea is to provide real value to the visitors (note that, contrary to popular practice, providing value and promoting stuff aren't mutually exclusive). A site that provides real value gets more return visitors, more subscribers, more fans.
I believe in not keeping all your eggs in one basket. With a mini-sites, you build the site, get it ranked and then basically get all your traffic (and indirectly, all your money) from Google.
All it takes is one major shift in the way they decide to display results and that can be the end of your business.
If you build large, valuable sites...
- ...they are less likely to get slapped
- ...you can build a brand around yourself/the site
- ...you can build stonger connections to your visitors by getting them on a mailing-list, having them subscribe to your RSS, follow you on twitter, join your FB fan page, etc. When the Google traffic dies, you now still have a lot of ways to stay in touch and you have alternative traffic sources.
A business based on real value is an asset. A minisite that consists of a thin affiliate promotion isn't. It may make you money right now, but it's not an asset, because it could disappear over night.
If you learn how to "tap into" a market and provide value, that's something no one can ever take away from you. No matter what the platform, this principle always works (it's the essence of marketing, so to speak).
Of course, building value like this is a lot more work than just slapping a WP blog on a domain, adding a few 5-buck-articles and then moving on.
But it's also far more scalable.
Just to clarify: I am NOT advocating the silly "build it and they will come"/"content is king" principle. Not at all.
I'm saying: Consider creating large, authoritative sites and do all of your usual promotion and marketing on those, instead of on a bunch of mini-sites.
I'd be interested to hear your opinion on this.
Do you build mini-sites? Do you build larger sites? How is either going for you?