The question about whether to have one site or multiple has been around for some time, and doesn’t necessarily have a quick answer. Like many things in SEO, it depends.
This was a question I routinely ran up against when I was first starting out building sites from scratch.
Everything logically told me that if I focused on one site, I’d get more success, and faster. Yet, it’s not in my nature of focus on one site, so I kept starting new ones and felt like I was trying to push 3 boulders up a hill at the same time.
Many people told me I’d get there faster if I just focused on one.
I only half agree.
At the end of the day, I got to the top of the hill, and if I’d focused on pushing the wrong boulder, maybe I never would have got anywhere. The more opportunities you have for finding something that works, the better.
You also learn faster by working on multiple different things, and that knowledge is a huge part of finding success.
That being said, momentum is built through focus, and spreading yourself too thinly is more likely to hinder you than help you.
So I understand the argument.
When Buying – Diversification Is More Important
When I started buying sites rather than building them, this question reared its head again. In fact, it was one of the first subjects I wrote about. This time, it wasn’t just about focus though, it was about diversification. Diversification is at times the complete opposite of focus, so the answer changes significantly.
When you’re buying sites and focusing on risk, spreading yourself thinly is exactly what you might WANT to do.
There’s an asymmetrical risk with acquisitions, so why risk a Google update wiping out your asset value, when you can buy 2-3 smaller assets and only risk 30% in any given update?
Well, because in some situations, a single site is actually MORE diverse than multiple sites.
Diversification is not just about the quantity of domain names.
It’s also about the diversification of the actual sites in question.
What Needs Diversifying?
To understand this more, let’s take a look at what factors actually need to be diversified.
Typically, the two riskiest factors with a content website are traffic, and monetization. These are usually the biggest two factors with all online business types, but as with all of my articles, I’m going to focus on content sites.The 2 riskiest factors with a content website are traffic and monetization. Agreed? Click To Tweet
With traffic, what actually is it that is the risk?
As the majority of content websites rely on Google search traffic for their website visits, by far the biggest risk factor is a Google algorithm update leading to ranking drops, and traffic along with it. When traffic drops, revenue usually drops with it.
But not always, and that’s important. We’ll come back to that.
If you have multiple sites then, the odds of being completely wiped out by a Google update are lower.
Let’s say a Google update results in a 30% traffic drop. That’s quite a big deal. What if that website is only 30% of your portfolio though? Now you’ve only lost 10% of your overall traffic.
What’s more, one of your other websites may have gone up by a similar amount. We saw this happen across our portfolio many times throughout 2019, and usually we came out ahead.
But what if your website doesn’t rely heavily on Google? What if you have a large email list, a strong Facebook following, a lot of pinterest traffic, AND google traffic?
Is having multiple sites better than one site now? Well, if all those sites have the same level of diversification, then sure, but this one site is more diverse than 2-3 sites that still rely on one traffic source, and that’s where it’s important to understand the distinction.
You could still argue that it’s better to have 3 such sites than just 1, but then you run into issues of having too many different traffic sources to keep moving. It’s all about finding the sweet spot.
When it comes to operations, it depends on whether you are a solopreneur or have a team.
You can also drill down further when analyzing traffic. If you have an email list, are they random subscribers who signed up for a free gift and occasionally open your emails, or are they raving fans who love everything you publish?
It’s much easier to achieve “Raving fandom” with your website when you only have 1 of them, than it is to achieve across a portfolio.
Also, when looking at traffic, where is it all going? Does it go to a single page on your website, or is it diversified across dozens of different articles? One website with 100 high ranking pages is still probably safer than 3 websites with a handful of popular articles each. Sure, an algo update could affect that single site more dramatically than a handful of sites, which just adds more weight to my “it depends” argument.
Monetization Should Be Diversified Too
What about monetization? As you guessed, the same rules apply.
A single site could have multiple sources of revenue, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Compare that to owning 3, or even 30 Amazon associates sites. When Amazon lowers their commissions, it doesn’t matter how big your portfolio is.
But that could also be an argument for owning more sites. The more traffic you have, the more domains you have, the more weight you might have with a network like Amazon, and the more protected your income could be.
It depends, it depends, it depends.
You can also rinse and repeat your successes if you have multiple sites. Let’s say you find something that works and nobody else is doing it. If you’re actively buying sites, you can unlock revenue that sellers might not have noticed.
Maybe you’re someone who can instantly make tweaks to a newly acquired site in order to double its profit. If you can do that, why not just keep buying new sites?
There are pros and cons to both situations, as you have probably realized by now.
It’s Not ONLY A Diversification Issue
We’ve talked a lot about diversification, and a lot about focus, but there are other aspects to consider. Generally speaking one site making $10k/mo is less effort to run than 10 sites making $1k. If you’re planning to delegate work, your team will likely cost more if you own multiple assets.
We have sites in our possession that earn $20k/mo and only occupy a few hours a week. We also have sites that earn $2k and unfortunately take up much more time than that (guess which ones we’ll sell first?).
As well as resources, you can also consider some other upsides of owning multiple sites. For one, you learn faster. You can cut through the noise and understand which truths apply to all sites. When someone shares a case study showing something they succeeded with once, you have the ability to tell if it is repeatable, and therefore worth your time (or not).
You also start to think about your business differently. When you run a single site, it’s easy to focus on a single topic, product, or audience. This can definitely be an advantage, but when you operate in multiple niches across multiple websites, you treat your whole business differently and make decisions differently.
In my experience, this leads to levelling up faster.
Final Thoughts – It’s Up To You
I’ve written a lot of words here to conclude “It depends”, but it really does. The main things you should consider though, are what your priorities are, whether you’re buying vs building, and whether you plan to do all the work yourself or delegate.
If you do decide to own multiple sites, it’s not like you have to go from 1 to 10 overnight anyway. You get a good opportunity to learn the differences as you expand, and you may decide not to add that third site afterall.
If you also bear in mind the considerations I’ve mentioned above, you should be well equipped to make the right decision as you and your business evolves.