This is a rather long first post in a series on how I build Niche Websites, some tips I’ve learnt along the way and a few do’s and don’ts that I have found out either by research or the hard way. I am no expert by any means but it works for me.
If its of value or you have any comments then please leave me a message. I’m still learning so any tips you can share will help me and maybe others too. We all have to start somewhere and here is a few pages on how I did it and some of the tools I used…
So What Is A Niche Website
Put quite simply, a niche website is a site that focuses in on one particular product or product set. I have seen many great examples of niche site building over the past few years and there are a few critical ingredients you need to make it a successful business.
- Content Rich – Original content is a must here.
- Valuable – Provide value, above and beyond everybody else.
- Optimized – You need to have well optimized content.
- Follow all the rules laid out by Google – No thin content etc..
The key to a good niche website is getting really targeted customers who are looking to purchase and converting that traffic into sales. There are a multitude of monetization methods, which we will cover off, later in this post.
Tip: Don’t use any sort of software that scrapes other pages and auto posts them on your website. It doesn’t work and will only harm your website. My first website proved this the hard way.
Making Money from Niche Sites
As stated earlier in the post there are many ways to make money with niche sites. I mainly focus in on Amazon Associates because of the niches I go after. Below is a list of some of the more popular options out there.
• Amazon Associates
• Google AdSense, Kontera or Chitika for PPC
• Clickbank, Webgains for Affiliate products
• Skimlinks for in-content links to affiliate products
• Sell advertising on your blog to private enterprise
• Selling a digital or physical product – think eBooks..
• Membership website – Members pay for content
• Lead generation for other businesses
I could go on all day on the various methods of making money with niche websites as there are many, but lets crack on with the post shall we.
Tip: If you use Adsense, whatever you do don’t click on your own links. You will be booted out of the program – might know somebody that happened to a long time ago. …wink!
How Much Work Is Involved
The biggest piece of work for building any successful niche site is preparation and research. You need to understand your market and know what people are looking for and why.
How much demand is there for a particular product will have a direct bearing on the profitability of your site. Don’t just go building a website for something you think will sell. Your ideas may be very different to others, and it’s the others in this instance that count – they are the ones who will potentially buy what you are trying to sell.
This was a big mistake I made early on when I started out building websites. I had an idea and just went for it… I had no idea what a niche website actually was. I went straight in for a fully blown authority site. The website is still up and running and makes some money, but nothing like I dreamed of.
When I look back at some of the original products I tried to promote and the keywords I found that in some cases there were zero monthly searches for the terms I used. That explained one of the reasons why the site never did any business.
Tip: You get out what you put in, but with the right tools and the right knowledge things become clear quickly and the money starts to come in.
What Do I Need To Start A Niche Website
A Computer and an Internet connection. Yep that’s it, and to hit the Start button on your brain to get moving.
If you are reading this post then you can tick item one off the list. Most people think of things for too long and never bother doing anything about it. Now is the time my friend.
Niche Site Ideas
Critical to the success of any niche website is the product or service you pick, and there are a few tools that are a must to set you on the right path.
First up is the Google Keywords Tool. This application from Google lets you search for keyword ideas for any particular product. It also gives you an indication of how many people are looking for this product on a monthly basis and where they are located. I will be producing a post at a later stage to show you how to use this properly to dig out the best keywords for your website.
Another tool I use on a daily basis is Long Tail Pro. Developed by Spencer Haws over on NichePursuits.com. This tool is really awesome at finding quality long tail keywords. It feeds off the Google keyword tool but layers a lot more functionality over the top. I am currently using the platinum edition, which gives me metrics I need to check out competition for solid keywords.
Where To Find Ideas For A New Niche Site
A great place to start looking for products to sell on your new niche website is on Amazon. Check out the best sellers list and you will see what is in demand at the moment. Make a list of about twenty different products to start with.
Once you have this list jump over to Long Tail Pro or the Google Keyword Tool and start searching for the numbers on each product you found. Look also for related products in the results. I have found in the past that while competition for one product may be high you will find other related products with good enough search results – say about 3000 per month – with low enough competition that are worth going after.
Tip: I cannot underestimate the amount of time I wasted starting out because I did not do the proper keyword research. This is key to the success of any website.
Now that you have your refined list of products you are going to need a platform to host them on. This leads us into our next section…
Here is a great Video from Pat Flynn over on Smart Passive Income where he goes into great detail on keyword and niche website research
Platform for Niche Sites
Like anything you build you need to have a solid foundation underpinning it. This is the same for online businesses, but in this case the foundation is your hosting provider and WordPress.
The hosting provider provides the space to host all your information, and WordPress is the platform you use to pull it all together and present it out to users searching on the internet.
Hosting A Niche Website
We could talk all day about this but I use GoDaddy for everything at the moment. Why, well it just works to be honest. There may be potentially faster hosting out there but I am happy with the service so far. Bluehost are another company that are mentioned all the time and are worth checking out if you have the time.
WordPress for your Niche Business
I use WordPress to pull everything together because it’s so simple to use. I have no background in coding of any description and because of how WordPress works you can get by at the start without any.
One of the things I found in the past is that I spent far too long trying to get things looking just right before I put any content onto the site. This really slows things down. If I was to give a piece of advice here it would be to just get some content up and worry about the looks at a later stage.
Don’t spend all day playing around with plugins either. I have literally spent a full day trying to get two plugins to worth the way I wanted, and in the end I uninstalled both of them because I didn’t really need them. You could write up pages of valuable content in the same period of time so focus on that instead.
All this being said though there a few things you need to have on a basic website to get it to function properly. This next section will cover of on the main ones.
Tip: Most of the internet now runs on WordPress. No coding skills necessary which is great because I can’t code at all, and with WordPress installed I don’t need to.
Niche Website Content And Pages
There are a few must haves when it comes to building a website specifically for Niche products apart from quality content. You may disagree with some or feel I have left things out here but that’s what the comments section is for. I am still learning so would appreciate any help you could give me along the way.
First up is the homepage. I tend to have at least 1500 words of content on the homepage. Take it relatively easy on the number of links on this page. Some people say that this hurts your ranking but others say it doesn’t. I tend to err on the side of caution and take it easy here.
Research has also shown that text links are much more likely to get clicked on over images. Users seem to have a greater trust in clicking text instead of pictures. I have proven this point myself on my own sites. Pictures are pretty, text links make money…
The key to this front page is the content. Quality unique content with plenty of different keywords contained within. Don’t bother repeating the same keyword or phrase over and over again because it makes very little difference and may in fact even harm your ability to rank well.
Also try imbed something like a related YouTube video and link out to an authority website closely related to the product you are trying to promote.
Next up are product pages. Within each niche there should be a few related products that you can write about. The more the merrier I say. This will help you gain traffic from a variety of search terms so make sure to include them.
Lets look at an example and see where we end up…
- Primary page is Running Shoes:
- Page Two – Running shoes for flat feet
- Page Three – Women’s Running Shoes
- Page Four – Men’s Running Shoes
- Page Five – Ultra Light Running Shoes
- Page Six – Shoes for Running a marathon
You can see where this is going. You are starting to provide a lot more detail around the topic of running shoes and therefore in theory get a bigger share of the search traffic because of this. Each of these pages needs to have over 500 words of unique content and some images. You might also have sub pages of each of the main topics which will help show deeper knowledge of your product set. We will cover of on the other page features at a later stage.
Tip: I would not bother going after this niche because it is way too competitive. That’s not to say I didn’t make this mistake in the past…
You will also need to provide an About Us or Contact page. Within this page I suggest you have as much information about your company as possible and also highlight the fact that you are using affiliate links on some of your pages. This is mandatory if you are using Amazon to monetize anyway so put it in or you will get banned from the Affiliates program.
Linking Structure For Your Website
This is where we start to get into some of the finer details but these make all the difference when it comes to climbing up the rankings.
Building Silos is key to how you structure you links. Because of the way link juice flows and how your website is indexed you want to link as many pages as possible together.
- Page 1 links to page 2, which links to page 2a, which links to page 2b.
- Page 1 links to page 3, which links to page 3a, which links to page 3b and so on.
This has made a dramatic difference in all of my websites. You should definitely check out Doug Cunnington over on Nichesiteproject because he has put together an awesome post explaining this.
Tip: Setting up a Silo based internal linking structure makes the world of difference so make sure its part of your strategy from the start
Getting Your New Website Noticed Online.
A big thing I struggled with when I started out was getting any traffic to my website. I just though if I built it people will come. Yep maybe if they knew where it was…
First thing you need to do is create a sitemap and upload it to Google Webmaster Tools. Its sort of like a menu of all your website pages. This will help you get indexed quicker.
You also need to start thinking about outside recognition of your website. This is where link building comes into play. The idea of getting links to point to your website with relevant keywords as anchor text will help you get better results than just hoping for the best.
I could write a 100 pages on how to build links to your site but not today. But, without links your website will sit in the darkest corners of the internet unnoticed for a very long time…
There are already a million other posts out there explaining every different methods available – both good and bad.
PBN’s and PR
You will hear terms like PBN a lot today. A PBN is a personal blog network you build out of expired websites that ranked well in the past and had high PR (Page Rank). PBN’s are commonly used to help rank new websites quicker than the norm. Do they work? Absolutely. Will they work in the future? Who knows, but for now people are doing really well by using this method.
Despite what some say about PR not being important anymore there is no doubt that it still makes a significant difference to a new site if you get some links from a website with high PR.
The Best Way To get Natural Links
So what is the best way to get natural links to your website. This goes back to a point I made earlier – create quality content that is easy to absorb and has a value to the person reading it.
You will find after a while that the content you put out starts to get shared around via social and some of your comments may get picked up by some of the other sites out there. Bingo – natural links.
The Wrong Way To Get Links
Don’t bother signing up for any of those special offer natural link systems or pay somebody else to do your link building for you. Things have moved on dramatically from a year or two ago, and what worked in the past will get you hammered now.
Not All Links Are Equal
When you do start to get links you need to keep a keen on on them. Where are they coming from and why did you get it in the first place. Social Media is a great source of natural links and will help drive serious traffic to your website.
I had a post on one website that got picked up via StumbleUpon and went viral for a good while. I was amazed at my site suddenly getting over 20k hits in one day. I though Jackpot. This type of traffic is very hard to convert and most people just drive-by and keep going. This has a serious effect on your bounce rate (something we will cover in another post) and can harm your ability to rank. So again, be careful – not all links are the same.
Tip: Be very careful with link building. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Stick to the rules and its better in the long run.
PageRank also has a bearing on how your website performs in the search results. Some commentators will say that Pagerank is no longer an important factor. I tend to disagree and you should check out my Importance of Pagerank post.
Watching And Monitoring Your Niche Website
Here is a section on Websites that I never took any notice of before. You need to keep a good eye on what is going on with your website when things start to get moving. The basic tools you need for this are Google Webmaster Tools and maybe OpenSiteExporer by Moz.
Webmaster Tools is handy to see what sort of traffic you are getting and a rough idea of the keywords used to find you. This can help you work on pages you have already posted and tweak them to capture more traffic. You might be ranking for a keyword you never even though of and that could be worth exploring more.
OSE by Moz is another great free tool. You can use this to get a view of the links coming into your website. Remember not all links are good and with this tool you can take a high level view to make sure you are tracking well.
Another tool that I will use from time to time is Ahrefs. This tool lets you dig a bit deeper into your niche website links. You can see what new links you get, or links you loose on a daily basis. You can also check the anchor text ratio of your links which is crucial. This will be covered in greater detail in another post.
Tip: Keep a good eye on your website. Your content may stay the same but new or lost links can have a significant impact on where your site sits in the search results.
Whats Next Now That My Site Is Running
So now you have a website up and running. What do you do next. Keep adding content over time and try and rank for additional keywords and phrases is one option. This kind of goes hand in hand if you are trying to build out an authority website.
If you have exhausted all your knowledge on your current theme then it may be time to move onto the next project. Let your first site mature a bit, try and gain some valuable links and hopefully start making money. Don’t panic if things aren’t going as quick as you hoped.
Things take time on the internet so please do not try any shortcuts. You will only end up undoing all the good work because you will get hit with a Google penalty or maybe even delisted…
Hopefully by now you will have gained enough knowledge to avoid some of the mistakes I made the first time around and things will be a lot smoother and quicker.
Get the process right and you will fly through the research and building process. Get it wrong and it becomes a world of pain.
Why Do I still Do This After All That Has Happened
I felt many times that I should just give up but I’m a bit stubborn so kept at it. I worked on the first website for nearly a year before it started to get any traction or earn any money.
I think the day I earned 2 dollars from an Affiliate sale was the happiest day ever. While the amount was tiny, for me it was huge. I was asleep when the sale happened so it was like free money.
I read personal blogs of a lot of great guys on the web and really enjoy reviewing their monthly income reports to see how they are doing. You never know, I might just publish one next month.
Sure I still make mistakes, but not as many as I used to and thats part of the fun anyway. Thanks for stopping by and hopefully you will come back this way another day. I have a lot of content I intend to publish. more in-depth articles on the tools I use and how they benefit me and others in the art of building out a successful niche website business.
As we sometimes say in Ireland…
Go raibh Maith Agat Mo Chara – (Thank you my friend.)