Let’s say you’re a nutrition coach and you need a copywriter.
You’re scaling up your blog’s editorial calendar and you need some help staying on top of all of the great content you want to create.
You search online and find websites for two different writers. We’ll call them Angela and Betty.
Angela’s portfolio of topics are health, technology, history, dating, finance, automobiles, skiing, and “other.”
Betty’s portfolio of topics are vegetarian diets, low carb diets, eating for weight loss, healthy recipes, eating for healthy skin, and other food-related topics.
Which writer are you more likely to contact?
Sure, you’ll check out both portfolios, but if you had time to contact only one writer, you’d most likely contact Betty.
Because Betty comes across as a better fit for your needs
The truth is, Betty writes about all of the same topics that Angela does. And Angela is every bit as talented and expert as Betty is at writing about nutrition.
But Betty created a dedicated website that specifically promotes her writing services on healthy eating topics. (She’s also got sites on the other topics she can write well about, from technology to relationship advice.)
Betty’s nutrition-focused site appealed to fewer potential customers. But the ones it did speak to were convinced she’d be the perfect fit for their needs.
Betty comes across as a well-informed specialist. And Angela seems like just another writer.
My experience with the multi-site approach
This scenario applied to my own website when I ran an offline business, and does equally to many business websites.
When I owned an offline business and had only one website for all the services I offered within the industry, my business was suffering. My “expertise” came across as a jack-of-several-trades-and-master-of-none.
My website did what most business websites do: promoted every single service I offered.
The trouble with the jack-of-all-trades website strategy is that the business doesn’t come across as specialized.
Competitors who focus on a well-defined topic will always appear to have more expertise — whether they do or not. All else being equal, guess who will land more customers? And guess which business can command higher prices?
It’s the specialist, every time.
How do you compete with a specialized business?
The solution is simple.
If your business offers multiple services, build a website for each service.
This is what I did, and the results exceeded my expectations.
I became a StudioPress Pro Plus member, so I had access to a huge inventory of designs for testing. That made it easy for me to test the best-performing theme for each service.
Within 6 months, my new (specialized) website was receiving good traffic from search engines. The best part was the vast numbers of new customers for each service I offered (after testing several designs).
The fact is, specialization sells. Especially today, when buyers are comparing so many competing services. They’re looking for the one that stands out … and often, that’s the specialist.
If you want your business website to sell, or sell better, it needs to make your business appear specialized.
Should all businesses use the multi-site strategy?
The test for when it’s right to build a dedicated website is as follows:
Do customers of service A need service B?
In other words, will customers looking for service A possibly also be in the market for service B?
If the answer is usually “no,” you can benefit from building more than one dedicated website. The two services target distinct customer groups, therefore you’ll want to publish two dedicated websites.
Here’s an example …
A good example of the appropriate use of the multi-website strategy is a law firm.
Many law firms offer services across several areas of law.
On the flip side, many lawyers such as sole practitioners practice only one area of law.
The result is that the sole practitioner website — specializing in one area of law — appears as an expert in that area of law.
The full service firm website, on the other hand, gives potential clients the perception of being generalist attorneys, even if they aren’t.
Consumers and businesses needing a attorney for one legal matter usually don’t need an attorney for other types of legal issues.
For example, a person needing a divorce lawyer usually doesn’t also need a personal injury or criminal defense lawyer. (Unless they’ve really landed themselves in a world of trouble.)
A client usually only needs one type of legal service, and naturally, they want an expert.
In this way, law firm websites that target distinct customer segments are more effective. A multi-website strategy is ideal for a law firm offering more than one type of legal service.
The proof is in the pudding
Since selling my offline business, I’ve been consulting for several businesses.
For one client I built four websites. Each site targets a distinct customer base within his business.
This client also happens to have an umbrella website listing all the services he offers. I analyzed traffic and sales for the past 5 months from both the targeted websites I built and the umbrella website.
The evidence was clear: The targeted sites have much higher conversion rates than the all-in-one website.
To this day, the conversion rates for the websites using the multi-site strategy are almost double that of his umbrella website.
Traffic increased all around
Because the specialized websites I built are focused, they target long-tail buyer keywords.
This results in decent targeted traffic volume fairly quickly from the search engines.
Before hiring me, my client’s sole website received 100 to 120 unique visitors per day. After launching and optimizing the multi-site strategy, total unique visitors per day across all sites more than doubled.
It’s interesting because my client’s original website’s traffic remains steady despite my adding 4 sites to promote their business. The websites I built do not cannibalize their traffic.
The end result: My client generates more sales due to increases in both traffic and conversion.
A quick caution:
If you’re going with the multiple specialized site approach, you cannot regurgitate or copy content from your other website(s).
Each site must be unique and focus on a different topic altogether. The content for each site needs to be written for the specific customers of that specialization, and of course you want your websites to remain favored by the search engines.
Who can benefit from the multi-site strategy?
Naturally if you are a business owner, you can benefit from this strategy, provided it’s a fit with your business. But please don’t run out and throw together a fleet of websites. The multi-site method must be approached strategically.
If you build websites, review your client list and determine if any clients could benefit from the multi-site strategy. You can create great benefits for your existing clients simply by informing them of this strategy. And obviously, it’s a nice revenue generator for you as well.
Like website designers, SEO consultants can create the opportunity to optimize more websites for select clients.
I found my success with this strategy through trial and error
Not only did I have to go out on a limb with this strategy several years ago, but I also had to do some testing.
As soon as I had traffic to my new sites, I tested several WordPress themes for conversion.
I installed several themes from several theme developers. In the end, I found that the Enterprise theme by StudioPress converted the best for the particular site I was building.
Having a StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme license made it easy for me to test several website designs quickly. Testing conversion rates made all the difference in finding the right theme.
How to display your expertise
When your prospective customers want a general commodity product, they might go to a huge “jack of all trades” vendor like Target or Amazon.
When they want the specific service or product you sell, they want an expert. They want the very best solution for their problem.
We all know that your business website is the face of your business. Don’t try to write a site that speaks to every possible customer who could ever use your service. Write for fewer readers, and you’ll gain more customers.
Have you built specialized websites for your products or services? If so, let us know in the comments …
About the Author: Peter Lawlor is a contributor to B2Web which is a site all about informing businesses about building an online presence with an emphasis on using WordPress themes such as the Genesis Design Framework for WordPress.