What A Search Engine Wants: A Theme
One way search engines have recently improved their results is by giving higher ranking to pages with more links to them. They don't just pay attention to the link address and the text used to link the pages; they look for "related content". The keywords both pages have in common (if the pages are on the same website) are used to determine the website's theme, which is given additional weight in search engine rankings.
This policy of trying to establish a website's theme gives focused websites an advantage. The fewer different types of products your website features, the easier it will be to get excellent search engine results. For example, a website selling only digital cameras would have an advantage over an electronics store for the phrase "digital cameras", even if the electronics store has a page better designed to appeal to search engines for the term "digital cameras".
Focused websites are more likely to use the same or similar keywords on all of their pages, and they are more likely to receive links from other websites which use those words. Even more importantly, it is easier to get links from other websites using the same keywords. (For instance, the digital camera store might be able to get links from photography and webcam sites.)
Having a theme isn't just good for search engine positioning. In the real world, stores which carry a variety of products, such as WalMart and Fry's, have an advantage. They are "one stop shops". On the internet, this strategy is not so much of an advantage. The next store is just a click away, and is often easier to find elsewhere than in the website you're already at.
I believe "one stop shopping" online is an entrepreneurial trap. I've reviewed a lot of websites as part of my "free critique" offer, and many of them were online stores seemingly trying to sell EVERYTHING. Those stores were the most boring. They all look alike, and seem to have the same products and prices. Needless to say, I don't remember them for long.
In order for a website to be successful, there must be something unique about it. Having a unique focus or niche is one way. Offering more information about your products is another way (that search engines love, by the way). Both ways are easier to accomplish with a themed website. Does your website have one?
About the author: Dawn Gray can help you drive more traffic to your website. For other great articles on website promotion and a free email newsletter, visit her website at http://www.busymarketing.com.