We now run 10 mini websites and two main branded sites for our company. There was a huge learning curve running so many sites. The company websites ran well for many years, but many of our customers were finding it difficult to locate and order products. The websites displayed hundreds of products from multiple manufacturers.
To better serve our customers we started to build mini websites, like lockoutsafety.com and Fluke-Ireland.ie. These websites are built to be brands on their own though are still labelled as part of the Powerpoint Engineering group.
The problems started after the launch of the first mini site; although I refer to them as mini sites, each site has between one hundred and four hundred products. The first site received no traction or visitors from Google search and all traffic was via Google Adwords. This was not the expectation we had set for the website. Therefore, we asked for a website review from Leslie @ Cube, which helped greatly. The lessons we learned from the review helped each website gain visitors from search and increase our relevance in Adwords.
Duplicate content in itself is not killer for a site – unless the whole site is duplicate and has no strength. We had simply taken the products from our main site and listed them on the mini website. This did not work.
The whole site was rewritten and basic on site SEO was implemented. At the end of this process Google was starting to send relevant traffic to pages on the site. We learned that duplicate and length of content had a huge impact. This resulted in more work that had not been originally planned, however it has created very good results.
Duplication was a huge learning experience. Not only did we need unique main content for each page, but it was required for each category heading, and snippet of text used within categories, rather than pulling text from the page.
Running one website is reasonably easy, now running twelve requires strict organisation. Each website has its own Google my Business account to enable listings on Google Maps, all the websites have a blog. We tried various ecommerce software and finally settled on Woo Commerce.
Running 10 websites on WordPress means updating WordPress and associated plugins to keep the sites secure. This initially caused some problems as we had altered the original WordPress themes and some plugins. We learned to keep all alterations in child CSS files, clearly label and keep note of code changes we made.
Over time we have automated as much as possible: rank tracking, analytics and conversion tracking, monthly website scans, we pull data on every URL from Analytics and Search Console and integrate to the one spreadsheet that can create our own metrics for each page.
We have found it best to keep all passwords on the one sheet, website logins, separate emails for each, social accounts, various Google services.
Finish the Project
Building a new website can be a stressful time, it takes focus, energy and time from the daily activities – so there is always pressure to finish and put live as soon as possible.
That pressure has on some occasions let a website be launched before being completely ready. Each time that has happened the whole time cost has been higher than it would have been. Re focusing and going back to correct or finish projects is now avoided.
Running social media for one website can take too much time. Running four social media accounts for each website again requires discipline. Thankfully all our websites are closely related, therefore, content generated for one site can be used across all forty social media accounts – sometime with small re-writes.
Knowing which social media platform our customers used most was quite easy to locate. Almost all effort is targeted making connections there and not wasting resources elsewhere with the blind hope of more traffic.
Social along with newsletters has been great for keeping us in our customer’s sight and getting as much feedback as possible – feedback appears to be easier for people online rather than at conferences or events.
Social media has tied us very tightly to a content plan. It is not helpful to turn up on Monday morning and wonder what to write about or share on social. Each month there are events and conferences, certain products sell better at particular time of the year; content planning is designed around our customers wants.
A website without relevant citations from other websites can rank, however with citations all our websites have performed hugely better. Reaching out to all suppliers, to local Irish citation sources, and producing high quality technical content has produced excellent results.
All content has a cost, a simple blog post can cost an hour or two, a great piece of content can cost the time of an outsource writer and our editing time. The ROI is better on great content less often than good content more often; I am sure it would be better if it was great content more often – but we have limits of investment, time and energy.
Time – Double the Projection
My parting shot is time. Whether it is the time to write content, launch a new website, rank in Google, initially the best projections were about 50% off. Once a couple of website were live and we encountered the main problems our projections became more accurate. But still, we run into issues that have not previously occurred – obviously these are impossible to budget.
Eimear Flynn, LinkedIn, is the marketing manger at Powerpoint Engineering an Irish owned and run company based in County Laois. The company is a leading supplier of electrical safety equipment and training courses in Ireland.