How and why do you surf the ‘Net?
Do you turn on your computer, open your browser, then scratch your head and wonder, “Hmm… what I should look for today?”
I'll bet you dollars to donuts you've got specific goals in mind when you surf the ‘Net.
Imagine for a moment that you gained a couple pounds over Thanksgiving. You're concerned that the fast-approaching Christmas feast, may have you wearing a mumu on Maui this January.
There's no way you're going to let that happen, so you decide to research treadmills on the ‘Net. Naturally, you start at Google.com, and type in ‘treadmills'. You click on a link that reads ‘Treadmill Buyers Guide – Unbeatable Low Prices & Expert Info, Buy Direct and Save 40% – 45%'.
Would it frustrate you to land on a page that has no information about treadmills, and no obvious way to get to that information?
What about when you have to click on several links?
First you click on ‘Sports', then ‘Running', then back up when you don't see ‘Treadmills' under ‘Running'. Finally after 10 clicks you find the ‘Treadmill' page listed under ‘Fitness Equipment', which for some reason has different stuff than ‘Sports Equipment'. There are 3 treadmills listed on the page, so back you go to Google.
Fortunately, searching at Google gives much better results than what I've described above.
Indeed, when searching for ‘treadmills' at Google, the first page of search engine results all go to pages specifically about treadmills. Nearly all the natural and sponsored listings belong to sites that sell just treadmills, or are sports equipment sites.
So why is it that many newbie webmasters think that building an all-purpose super mall, that sells everything and anything, will bring them fame and fortune, and save them the work of having to build multiple sites?
The answer to that question is beyond me. Those sites just don't get found, unless their name is Yahoo!, Epinions or About.com. And if a site doesn't get found, it certainly doesn't get famous.
As for saving time by building only one site – what a pipe dream! Building a 1-stop shopping directory site with universal appeal and umpteen hundred categories, requires umpteen hundred pages. That takes time – lots and LOTS of time… unless you've got a Yahoo!-sized staff and advertising budget.
Lacking that type of investment, your best bet is to focus on a single theme. A five-to-ten page site that is easy-to-navigate with excellent reviews and information beats out a willy-nilly mall site every day of the week.
So put yourself in your customers' (running) shoes, and give them treadmills when they want treadmills.