In this article we are looking at how to target your website’s content. Is it better to build a website that covers a wide range of subjects or should you target something specific?
This post forms part of our 29 debates bloggers have about blogging series.
Also check out our how to chose a blog topic page that forms part the Blogercise straight forward 10 steps to building a website.
Should I Build a Niche Blog?
I have built both niche and wide ranging websites during my time as a hobby website builder. In my professional career I worked for a UK website that operated over major conumer products such as Insurance, Personal Finance and Utilities – so I know what it takes to run this kind of major site!
Without a doubt the sites that have been the easiest to get going have been the highly targeted niche sites but on the down side, niche sites have limited potential.
Why is a Niche Site Easier to Get Started?
By targeting a highly specific topic you are creating an entire site built around something specific. When the Search Engine’s algorithms are interigating your site they will have a very clear idea what it is about and will understand how to rank it. Google knows that Blogercise is all about helping you to build your first blog for example.
By concentrating on a single topic you stand a chance of out ranking well known sites with established reputations – but only for this topic! So if you build a site around the best flared trousers then you have a chance of getting to the top of the search engines but if you build a site around just trousers, I’m afriad you will find it hard to impossible to outrank the branded stores and fashion producers.
What are the Difficulties in Covering a Broad range of Topics?
I’ll be honest here, although I run a world leading tech community it is around a very select set of products. Fortunately for me they are very popular set of products and this has resulted in a forum with 1000s of members and a healthy daily traffic flow.
I am currently using that site to kick off a more broad ranging website with a wider focus but, as expected, this is proving much harder than getting the smaller niche site off the ground. A year into the project and I am hitting the 1000 unique visitors a day target and the forum is finally starting to see regular signs up. I hope the second year will see the break through I am waiting for.
Contrast this to my niche sites which tend to go from 0-60 very quickly, but sadly the potential for growth is so limited that the traffic and income never really builds further despite increased investment into the sites.
The advantage of this is that you can see a return on your investment much sooner and I think this is critical when starting out. The Blogger’s curse is that many people give up far to early on when their sites see little or no activity in the early months.
Even a targeted niche site can take months to get going so stick with it.
So why is running a multi topic site difficult?
A multi topic blogging site is one that covers a range of topics at a high level, although normally still all focused around one area – for example a “tech” blog, or a music blog. But the site will cover all genres of music – not just 17th century organ music!
Getting a generic site up has a range of challenges:
- New readers won’t know what you are about. They will arrive on your site through a link or most likely via Google and you have about 60 seconds to make an impression. If they don’t get what your site is about then they are unlikely to come back. But if your site is focused on a specific niche and it’s something they care about then there is much more chance of a bookmark.
- This leads on to building your brand. It is sometimes easy to forget the power of branding. I’m writing this on a Sony laptop, Im wearing Nike trainers, drinking Coke, connected to the Internet via Virgin Media. Yet like many of us I like to think I’m not affected by branding! Building a brand around your site will be crucial to building long term traffic.
- You only have finite time to create content. The problem I have on my more generic site is the time to cover the topics in the depth that they deserve. A product review that is worth reading takes time, you need to really spend some time getting to know the product, and then give some detailed feedback. A half baked effort just won’t cut it – your readers will go to a site than can be bothered to do it right. Avoid spreading yourself so thinly that you cover many topics, but cover them all equally badly!
- Increased competition. To make it worth their while the big media players need to create large generic sites that cover a range of topics. You need to ask yourself whether the quality of your site can really compete with a competitor that has 100s of people working on it full time – all professional journalists and website builders with years of experience. That’s not to say that smaller outfits haven’t succeeded, but know what you are up against!
Aim for the Top
My advice is to start small, but always think about how you can leverage your success to create bigger and better sites. If you have a range of related niche sites then you can start channelling traffic from these into a wider ranging site where you can foster a community of regular readers.
Having established sites really does make it easier for you next time round, you’ll have contacts, a reputation, traffic, experience, and perhaps even a large group of twitter followers you can call on to help kick start a new project.
Many established webmasters forget the advantage they have over those just starting out and the simple truth is it’s not easy to get going but you have to start somewhere, a journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step!