Am I better off to have one big website or a constellation of linked sites?
My core business site (www.on-purpose.com) is old, functions, but doesn't have an administrative panel to self-manage. My outsourced web master took a full time job so the site is basically unchanged. Over the years, as we've added workshops, books, and other resources, our workaround has been to create individual product or program sites using Wordpress / Genesis theme & child. Examples: www.onpurposeleadership.com, www.onpurposepeace.com, www.fit4leading.com.... and so forth.
Something needs to change. Aside from the lack of branding consistency (I'm aware), what is the best strategy going forward? Do I keep the "constellation of related websites" approach or consolidate them all onto one large site? Whatever I do mobile responsiveness is a must.
One exception is my video blog will remain separate from the company site. It is a TypePad account that works well for us.
As a solo owner, I would prefer to have fewer places to go for site management. From an SEO perspective, however, which is the better way? What other considerations might I need to address?
One big website for sure, this benefits SEO enormously. Of course you want to have related content.
It is better to consolidate all the websites. This will help you in easy management and SEO will be more effective as well.
If you would like to outsource the maintenance, you may visit alpinesoftit.com
From a Management perspective, you are much better with just 1 site. This way as your company grows so does your services and your website. Each service/offering can complement each other.
With regards to SEO, it would probably be best to have just 1 site too. Higher domain authority, and a stronger brand.
Hi Kevin. The best approach from an SEO, administrative and, in my opinion, brand standpoint is to create a site under a single domain. In your case, of course, that domain would be www.on-purpose.com. This assumes that your various endeavors share some common thematic elements...more on that later.
I assume the benefits to site management are obvious, so I'll just touch on SEO. The main issue to consider here is search equity...the perceived relevance your sites have to a particular searched topic. When all of your sites have unique urls, each site's equity is based solely on the traffic to that url. However, if you combine them all under a single domain, each "site" will get the benefit of their COMBINED search equity. The net result is that your are more likely to show up higher in search results.
That all said, in your case, I suspect there is a certain benefit to having separate urls for individual products and programs for marketing purposes. With that in mind, I would recommend you adopt a landing page oriented structure for the core site. Essentially, this means that each program/product would have a landing page (or "secondary homepage") at the second level of navigation. This is a common structure in for "product line" oriented businesses. Apple.com is an example that pops to mind. Notice that as you select the various product lines in the primary nav (Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.) each essentially functions as a sub-site, with it's own focused homepage of sorts.
Also note what happens to the url...when you choose "iPad" you don't get some garbled sting of code for the address, it simply shows as "www.apple.com/iPad". In this case, iPad is referred to as the "sub-domain", this page naming strategy allows you to create useful urls for marketing individual programs, such as www.on-purpose.com/leadership.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
I have to agree with John Elcik --- I use MU extensively now --- the domain mapping and sub-domains are very strong SEO wise and that is my specialty. It allows you to basically have a set of sites and network them together with one DB setup. Also, if you use the domain mapping feature -- you will not lose any of your existing SEO juice ---
I recommend to have a one big web site than having multiple web sites for each product because you can manage the site much easier and faster and also, you can have records of sales and inventory all in one place instead of checking separate web sites
Hey Kevin…this is a great discussion to have. I'll share what i do with the caveat that I'm open to suggestions myself on this. I am a musician with myriad offerings. I perform for kids parties, do acoustic music for marriage proposals, I have a four piece band and two duos. So far i've got 3 websites up with vista print and have my sights set on doing a master website that encompasses all of the things i do. I think you need to have a website for each service line if they are in fact separate stand alone service offerings. Each site should have its own SEO drivers. Hope that's helpful.
You could probably have one big site which contains all the relevant sections of your business, with some security features such as Logging into different sections with different rights all together. But if you are the only sole business entity who logs into these sites, I may suggest you to use About.me and link all your sites in there. Its free and links to all relevant sites are made available if you have this account with About.me. Or if this is not suitable as all the other social networking sites are also there, you might want to have a main website which links to you to all your other websites, which is actually an easy fix. If you have the resources, you might want to take up building a big site with different sections within it like I mentioned earlier.
Hi Kevin, theres no right or wrong answer here. It depends on a lot of things.
Are you making enough money right now to keep you comfortably and to spend some money getting other people to do the technical stuff for you so you can focus on content (Quality and qty-in that order).
Does your subject matter lend itself to being on one sire-looking at the name my guess would be yes.
It sounds like your old site is stoneage so yes that definitely needs to go.
Wordpress Genesis Theme and child themes are great (I use them but they are as good as anything around) All new child themes are mobile responsive and when you go through them you can select "Mobile responsive as a must have. Yes its now essential and becoming more so.
In terms of SEO, I believe one site works better and i n terms of attracting long term loyal customers which I guess your business would want to do-its far better than a confusing and diverse array of sires that a potential customer will otherwise have to thread their way through and piece together to make sense of. If they wanted a jigsaw puzzle they can go out and buy one.
Finally, one site reduces complexity and maintenance time and cost and complexity. So my recommendation is formly one site.
Now that doesn't mean you cant use a satellite site if you want to do a promotion on a one off basis and get people to focus on just that one thing-its just 3 pages, an offer with opt in form, a thankyou page and download page. Or if you want to do something that doesn't quite fit your site or you just prefer to keep separate
I hope that helps Regards david
WordPress has a feature called Multisite that enables a single WordPress install to act like a network of sites centered around a single domain (http://yoursite.com). Multisite also allows for easy network management through a single admin dashboard which a user with appropriate permissions can access via any network site's admin bar. Multisite is by no means "new". If you want to use this feature I highly recommend the experts at http://premium.wpmudev.org/ both for their plugins and support.
Using Multisite will give you branding consistency, mobile responsiveness, SEO optimization along with fewer places to go for site management. The other consideration is to rethink the location of videos and bring it into the WordPress platform for SEO considerations. Finally, while this meets your stated requirements it is the most expensive of the solutions available. Not many developers have experience with Multisite, yet.
If it was my money; I would follow Joseph Gedgaud's advice and build one consolidated WordPress site. I would add to his advice, however, a requirement to bring video into the design for SEO purposes. Also, while I'm not personally a user of themes from Genesis; they have a solid reputation. I find other frameworks to be more complete and easier to use, a personal preference, I'm sure. - The Pragmatic Web Designer
It is always sensible to split your information into multiple sites if you have many businesses with multiple names. That helps in isolated management of each of your businesses too. However, if you have a single business with multiple offerings then one site is where you put it all - visible in the right order of priorities.
As you've decided to go with one big website, I'd like to congratulate you on making that decision. As many have already mentioned, Google can be pretty ruthless if your business is very scattered.
Now that you've committed to one website there are a couple of things ot consider:
1) How does your audience respond to this?
2) How do you plan on directing them to this main website (preferrably seemlessly to avoid losing clients)?
3) How do you get your team on board to this "new" direction you're going into?
4) How do you grow from there as a company?
5) How do you implement social media to assist in this transition?
These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when committing to your new way of business.
If you like, just send me a private message and I'll address any other issues you may have from this point or view my website www.createappshere.com .
Wow! Thanks for all the great advice and insights.
I've decided to attempt the consolidation for the long run to one "mother" site. Having one central site to manage and market means my clients and visitors can have a more fluid experience. While the SEO advice matters to me, I'm willing to do a gradual transition of content from old sites to new sites given the amount of content to move plus I want to update the content in the process. (Authors are always making edits.)
There's tons for me to ponder and think about going forward. As the business develops, perhaps some of us can do business together. I feel as if I've meet some talented and giving people - my kinda folks.
Blessings to all!
Kevin - before making a move on your digital strategy I would ask your accountant to give you a 360 on your bottom line facts and figures. You may come to a conclusion that 80% of your products produce 20% of the profit. No need to have a website for something that isn't selling. Then I agree that one main site that has a clear product portfolio navigation is the best way to go. Make sure to implement a 301 redirect strategy of any domain name you want to "phase out" and keep them. Use Google Analytics to measure when it's time to unplug them.
Wishing you nothing but success
I think before we choose an option, we need to understand how you going to position from now to next few years and how you like to expand your business. From there we can understand the role of your website(s) and we can strategically design the web presences with strong purpose. Should we automate certain of your operating functions and increase mobility + simplify your marketing information, etc. Base on your description in your question, it seems that you may look for a simple website with several A&P websites (you need not own them all) + huge social media presences. Purchase controlling applications to consolidate all these social media websites and A&P website to save time and controllable. Identify activities to be replace by process automation and increase mobility, this can be done through the use of cloud applications (many free with some customized) + develop some critical information by free applications or some BI tools to save time to produce information for decision making. Hopefully, I idea is of some help to you.
It looks like you have received many responses Kevin, you have a mix of the one central site, along with separate sites for each product. You know this SEO stuff is over rated and over hyped-if your content is rich, sought after and relevant to the people you will gain plenty of targeted traffic. If your current situation is working for you, I would not change it-I would focus on making the branding consistent, but each product site has gained its place, and indexing has already taken place-you will lose that if you change into central mode-despite 301 re-directs. I would concentrate on marketing each product, creating more links between the sites to create a 'silo' effect. The important thing is to maximize the connections you have with each site-keep building the relationships-the technical aspects are not as important as the established position each product has in your markets. Take it or leave it but this is what I would do.
Your core site is what your customers identify you with. Have an add on site for more noticeable and new introductions. Get the two linked. Sure to solve your problem.
I agree with Seth Levine, although I'd like the expand on it.
I was given this advice by Yahoo Small Business and a wide variety of web developers: each website should have one very main page, and every page in the website should be meaningfully linked to the index.
Secondary sites are very helpful for overall search rank (such as Google Rank, which I follow). This is one of the secrets of web development: secondary sites are necessary, but they cost money. Therefore, everything scales according to economics. But anyone with a big product can make money. It's authentic free market. Accept it how you will. The big guys always make money unless they're cheated by someone else who's even bigger, or unless they can't pay the bottom line.
I have one primary page, and it is ranked 3 on Google now, but it took 8 years. I have an interesting topic, and some searches ban advertising. So that's probably the basics of what you need to know. Not so basic, but I find all of this to be useful advice.
The good news: you can grow, it just costs a little money. And expensive services such as web developers are not always worth it unless you have other people to speak for. There's something to be said for paying the minimum dollar, and just making sure you have the right editing tools. Maybe Yahoo Small Business could be modified to meet your needs?
This is some of the best advice I could give on the subject. I'm being pretty generous because honestly I don't think I could cheat you. My business is giving free advice at this point in my career, because I don't know if anything else pays off.
Opinion: non-technical experts (the ones who don't know how to code) generally would say: one website is better. That's because - when they are tasked to work on it, they would need more time to analyze - something non-technical folks hate to do. They might sound to have valid claims, but they cannot explain the technicalities happening behind the code and usability of the site.
Considering the requirements Kevin mentioned, it seems that his dilemma of choice is towards these key items: Mobile readiness, Multifaceted website management, SEO friendliness.
Suggestion 01: if you're sticking with WordPress, consider tools or strategies that leverage the multisite architecture if you wish to use one code-base.
Suggestion 02: Search engines know, and they don't care whether you have one or a constellation of sites as long as the content are coherent. Tools like http://www.google.com/webmasters/ helps you get right on track
Suggestion 03: Mobile-first versus Mobile responsiveness are different things. Your developer or web coach should be able to tell how they differ and impact the value on your site and its target customers.
My clients who use WordPress have to deal with the same questions you ask (and more). It's such a pity that while WordPress is mostly easy to use for most content editors, it's still not as seo-friendly and flexible as Drupal.