After panda practically killed my online store, I have decided to look into splitting products in to very niche groups with the aim of bringing more focus (in terms of relevance signals) to these groups and more resilience to my business during these updates. I am not planning to do anything black-hat. Just small sites with products and simple on-site seo. There could be as many as 50 of them.
My question is, would running these satellite sites be better as subdomains or as completely individual domains or doesn't it matter?
From my point of view, the pros of subdomains are:
Cheaper by far
Can stay consistent for the user
Easier to manage
Can still be on different IP addresses
But what I am unsure of is :
Will using subdomains make the sites very fragile in terms of penalties or serps fluxes?
Would Google view this as a way to cheat the serps or as spam?
I haven't considered other search engines too much, but what about these?
If I went with all new top-level domains, should these all be registered to different 'owners' or will this look even worse to G.
I'm wracking my brains so far trying to come to a decision, as what I choose now could make or break the idea (and what's left of my business).