Semalt: Should I Build A Laser-Focused Site Or Something More Extensive?

You're considering building a website. It could be something simple, like a personal blog, or it might be something more significant, like a new business venture. Before you begin, you need to answer an important question:

Am I building a site that focuses on one thing? Or am I building a site that covers many things?

In the business world there are a wealth of successful companies that sell large ranges of products, like Microsoft. There are also quite a few that sell a handful of unique products, and sometimes even just one, like GoPro. Both companies have proven extremely successful in their own way.

To understand whether a laser-focused or more broadly themed site is right for you, we must first understand the strengths and weaknesses that each brings to the table.

Why should I build a laser-focused site?

Starting small makes sense. Staying small maybe less so. The perks of retaining a laser-focus apply to any website, no matter the person, organisation or intent behind it.

You make yourself an authority

Sites that focus on a limited range of subjects or products are able to build trust and authority quicker than more extensive sites. If you only sell one product, it suggests that you'll put real effort into making sure it's the best on the market. If you write about one subject, it follows that you're probably an authority in the space. Visitors will subconsciously apply words like expertise and quality to you and your content, simply because you don't appear to be distracted by anything else.

You make purchasing decisions easier

A laser-focused site also avoids the paradox of choice: if you offer someone too many choices, they're less likely to make a purchase.

This concept was first demonstrated by the famous jam experiment. In the year 2000 a team of researchers set up a jam stall at a local market on two different days. The first day the stall offered 24 different types of jams. The second day the stall offered six different types of jams.

The more extensive range attracted far more people to the stall - around 60% of passers-by stopped, compared to around 40% for the more focused stall. But the interesting thing was what happened next. Around 3% of people who stopped at the stall with 24 different jams ended up buying a jar. But while the stall with just six jams attracted fewer visitors, they were around 10x more likely to make a purchase - almost 30% of the people who stopped at the stall bought something.

Too much choice can feel overwhelming. We've all been to a restaurant with a menu that seems to go on forever, and many of us would prefer to be given four or five high quality options instead.

You increase conversions

A laser-focused site offers a limited number of paths to purchase, which means that customers are less likely to get lost in the process. On a landing page, for example, a visitor might only be given two choices: make a purchase, or return to where they came from.

What does this mean? By limiting the options, you sidestep the paradox of choice. A laser-focused site, while perhaps not attracting as many visitors as a large and far-reaching site, will usually be better at converting those who do get there.

You create less work

If you want your website to rank on Google, you need to maintain and update it. You need to ensure that the content is correct, that links work, and that the keywords you're targeting are effective. While professionals like Semalt can help with this effort no matter what size your website is - check out our FullSEO package for more information - the fact is that a laser-focused site requires less money, effort and expertise to maintain.

A focused website might have 10 or 20 separate pages. A comprehensive website could have hundreds, each of which needs to be updated regularly if you have any chance of ranking well on Google.

Why should I build a broader site?

While the reasons to build a laser-focused site appear to be compelling, that's not to say that it'll be the right option for everyone. There are a number of reasons why you might choose to build a more extensive site.

You can attract more visitors

The fact of the matter is that the more pages your website has, the more material Google's bots can grab hold of, and the more search results you can potentially appear in. You'll be targeting a broader range of terms, and will have the ability to become an authority in a greater number of areas.

It's important for us to put a caveat here: quantity is nowhere near as important as quality. Just because a site has more pages that could hypothetically reach the top of a search engine results page (SERP), that doesn't mean that they will. Real effort needs to be put into making every aspect of your website as Google-friendly as possible; something that our expert team at Semalt has a track record of doing.  

You have fewer points of failure

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" as Grandma used to say. If your site sells more products or covers more subjects, it has fewer points of failure. If you choose to create a website or business around a single product, and that product perhaps isn't as good or popular as you though it might be, the time, money and effort you invested could be for nothing.

Larger and broader sites aren't as reliant on specific successes. If a particular product doesn't sell, no problem - you have plenty of others, and a lot of them are selling really well! Spreading risk is an important strategy in business, and a broad website grants you the ability to do just that.

You have greater potential for growth

Not only does a more extensive site mitigate risk, it also offers far greater potential for growth. Let's say you sell fashion items. After a few months in business you realise that your hats are selling better than anything else, so you expand your range based on the most popular styles. You then find that your dresses are popular in summer, and work to make the most of that opportunity.

Where a laser-focused site limits your growth to a single vertical, a broader site can serve up endless opportunities, like a tree with branches growing every which way. It's then up to you to decide which to pursue, and how far to pursue them. Many businesses begin with a large range, then slowly focus in on the most popular and profitable aspect over time, transitioning from a broad brand to one with far more focus.

GoPro vs Microsoft

There's no right answer to the question of a laser-focused vs an extensive website, and this is highlighted by the fact that two tech companies have found incredible success using two quite extreme versions of these differing strategies.

GoPro: A laser-focused brand

When you think of GoPro, you think of one thing: a small, boxy and super robust camera: the GoPro Hero. Sure, there are accessories, and you can get a range of brand merch from their online store, but every one of these items ties back to the pièce de resistance of their range.

Because of this focus, GoPro has become the camera for water and adventure sports. It has become one of those brands, like Xerox, Jacuzzi and Band-Aid, that has become the generic term you use for that product, no matter who made it. GoPro has built a very successful brand on doing one thing well, and hasn't ever felt the need to change. Nor should it.

Other laser-focused brands:
Tesla, Apple, Roku.

Microsoft: A wide-ranging brand

Microsoft is a company with its hands in a lot of jars. While it's perhaps most famous for Windows, its operating system, it offers an endless array of products, from SaaS offerings to hardware.

When Microsoft sees an opportunity, it doesn't think twice about going for it. There have been a few false starts - the Windows Phone, MSN chatrooms, the Microsoft Watch - but for the most part, the successes have far outweighed the failures, allowing the company to continue to dominate perhaps the most innovative and competitive industry on earth: tech.

Other extensive brands: Amazon, Samsung, Google.

Will you be GoPro, focusing on one thing and doing it well? Or will you be Microsoft, expanding your offering and your potential opportunities with it? There's no right or wrong answer - the perfect website will depend on your situation and your goals.

But when you do create your website, you should do all that you can to ensure that you get it as high up the Google rankings as possible - something that we at Semalt have helped over 650,000 users do so far. Get in touch with our friendly team today!