When people come to me with website ideas, they often ask me how to set the site up, how to structure it, and how to theme the site. They may have a specific focus for the site, or they might be considering making a more general-themed site. Deciding on how to theme and structure a site is very important and can have a big effect on SEO and monetization. In this article, I wanted to run through the considerations you should go through when thinking about whether to create a site on just a single topic or creating a more general-themed website.
What’s an example of a single-themed site? Findafax.com is a single-themed site and is a great example. It is themed solely around online fax services. It provides reviews, comparisons, and information on the top online fax service providers. It does not expand past this topic and is very tight in its focus.
What’s an example of a general-themed site? Consumeraffairs.com is a site that provides reviews and information on many different industries, from eyeglasses to auto loans. There are a large number of sections on the site that are completely unrelated to other parts of the site.
So how should you go about theming your site? Should you focus on one topic or create a more general-themed site? Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Pros Of Single Themed Websites
Easier To Rank More Quickly– After significant levels of testing, I have finally concluded that it is much easier to rank a site more quickly if it is tightly focused on one theme. Thematic relevance is an important ranking factor in Google, and it is hard to establish thematic relevance quickly if a site is about multiple, unrelated topics. Furthermore, websites naturally get lots of links to the homepage. The main pages a site owner would want to rank for are going to be closer to the homepage on a single-themed site versus a general site. Given the power of inner-linking, it will therefore be much easier to rank a single-topic website much more quickly.
Sites Tend To Convert Visitors More Easily– It is much easier to convert website visitors in a single-themed site. It is easier to establish your authority on the subject, and visitors will not be distracted by unrelated pages. Based on lots of testing that I’ve done personally, single-themed sites always convert better.
Site Structure Tends To Be A Non-Issue– As I’ll note later in this article, a good, logical site structure is very important for general-themed websites to rank well. You don’t want to have pages on your site linking to lots of pages of unrelated topics. However, with a single-themed site, this isn’t really an issue. No matter what your inner-linking is, you will always be linking to a page on your site with related content.
Allows Site Owners To Stay Focused– It is easy to get distracted running a site of many different themes. Keeping the site content, the linking, the social media interaction, etc. on one topic is much easier to manage than doing so for many different themes. Staying focused is critical to ranking well, staying engaged with readers, and monetizing traffic.
Cons Of Single-Themed Websites
Harder To Get Links– Because the site is limited in its focus, the possibilities for getting a good number of quality, relevant links are much lower with a single-themed website. Links are still king with SEO, so this could be an issue, depending on the niche of the site.
Harder To Expand Content– Naturally, as a site expands its reach, site owners will think of ways to grow the site further. This is much harder to do with a single-themed site. It’s difficult to add an entirely new category of content when the site has always been structured around one main topic. This issue is not a problem at all with general-themed sites. You should keep this future in mind when deciding on what type of site you want to build.
Generally Harder To Market Content– By its nature, the possibilities to market a site’s content are much smaller with one niche versus a site that’s generally themed. This means it will be harder to use platforms like Facebook advertising or Google AdWords to market the content of the site.
Monetization Possibilities Are More Limited– General sites have many more monetization possibilities. If your ultimate goal is to create a site that can make money, this may be a consideration, depending on the niche that you plan to be in.
Notes About Site Structure With General-Themed Websites
If you are planning on creating a general-themed website, you need to spend extra time and effort planning your site structure. Users need to be able to logically go from the homepage, down to a sub-category, and then into the details of the sub-category. This is incredibly important in terms of search engine results, because Google places heavy importance on “siloing” (keeping areas of the site on one topic separated from areas of the site on other topics) a site properly. You do not want to have pages on one topic linking to pages of a completely unrelated topic. Google needs an easy path to establish thematic relevance of the content, and inner-linking unrelated pages can really confuse the Google bot. It also doesn’t make too much sense from a user-experience perspective.
If you Google “SEO silos,” a LOT of results will come up, because structuring your site properly is incredibly important when you have a multi-themed website.
So Which Type Of Site Should You Choose?
The type of site you should create depends on what your goals are and the niche(s) you plan to be in. If you don’t have any plans on expanding past a certain topic, a single-themed site is definitely better, as it will rank more quickly in Google and you can stay much more focused. However, if there are definite possibilities to expand the content of a site into multiple areas, there are certainly many benefits to creating a general-themed site. The important thing to do is to spend a lot of time thinking through these issues, so you don’t have any regrets after it’s too late to make changes.