4 Examples of Successful Niche Websites

4 Examples of Successful Niche Websites

If you are new to building niche websites (or even if you are more experienced), you are probably interested in seeing some specific examples of successful niche websites. Well, that is what I am going to review today – 4 examples to be exact. Now just to be clear – THESE ARE NOT MY WEBSITES! I don’t know who owns these websites or how much money they make. However, I am going to explain what I think they have done right and why I think they are most likely doing well as far as income is concerned.

Also, just to note – all of these sites are primarily monetized by Google Adsense. This is where my expertise lies and so I feel most comfortable analyzing other sites that are similar to my own. All of these sites are targeting keywords that receive good search volume and have a high CPC. I will NOT be looking specifically at the competition levels for these keywords however. Most of these sites are targeting fairly high competition keywords – but that is not the focus of this post today. I want to focus on the volume and CPC of the keywords, the domain names, and the website layout, content, and monetization methods.

So, here is the first example of a good niche website:

1. Medicalassistantsalaryguide.org – Medical Assistant Salary

The targeted keyword is obviously “Medical Assistant Salary”.  This keyword receives 27,100 exact match local searches each month and has a high CPC of $3.88 according to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. I personally like to target keywords that have 3 to 5k or more exact match searches.  So, 27k is GREAT!  Also, the CPC of $3.88 is also very good (over my $1 minimum).

The site currently ranks #8 in Google for its primary keyword.  Note that they have used the keyword in the domain name, even though its not an exact match domain – its still keyword dense.

Here’s what the site looks like:


The first things that pops out is the number of ads (which I circled).  This might be a bit ad heavy and I usually don’t place this many ads above the fold.  However, I guarantee that they have an excellent CTR with this layout.  The ads are above the fold and within the content, in addition the use of the link unit at the top where a navigation bar would typically go is also very saavy.  I would be surprised if the CTR is not at least 10%.  However, I would caution against using this many ads.  My tweak would be to remove one of the medium square units, and then wrapping the text around the other one.

Anyway, my guess is that this site ranking at #8 in Google for this keyword and the high CPC, probably pulls in between $500 to $1000 per month.  In fact it could actually be much more that that just depending on how much traffic they really receive.  This is with the assumption that they receive traffic from more than just this keyword (which is the case with every single website I have ever owned).

2. Dentalassistantsalarydata.com – Dental Assistant Salary

This search term also happens to receive about 27,100 EXACT match LOCAL searches per month.  The CPC is $4.24 – another great Adsense keyword.  I can’t stress how important it is to check the exact match searches to make sure the volume is really there.

The site is currently ranking #1 in Google!

Here is what the site looks like:

I have highlighted with red boxes how they are monetizing the site.  First I will point out how professional the site looks – it has a custom logo and a very clean look and feel to the site.  This helps build trust right away.  Secondly, I like how they have the salary data that searchers are looking for right away on top.  Then they have the adsense ads immediately following (still above the fold).

The other monetization method is through the sidebar (and also at the end of every article) is education lead generation.  They are probably an affiliate of a number of different schools or other educational lead companies.  However, not only are they probably making good money with the site, but they offer great content on the site.  They allow users to search by state to find local salaries and much more information.  Content is important!

Because the site is ranking #1 in Google for this (and probably ranks very well for other related terms), they are probably making great money.  This is probably easily a $100 to $200 a day website.  That’s right, I would not be surprised if this site was pulling in $3k to $6k or more each month.  In fact it could be more, but its hard to guess without knowing all the traffic they are receiving.

3. Scholarshiphispanic.com – Scholarships for Hispanics

This search term gets 14,800 exact match searches each month with a CPC of $2.19.  You can also see on the adwords tool that this has high advertiser competition – this is a GOOD thing for you.  This lets you know lots of people are buying ads for this term – more competition usually means more money for you.

Here is what this site looks like:

You will notice that this site does try to make some money with Adsense, but the banner ad at the top is an affiliate ad (through Commission Junction) for Fastweb.  I just logged into CJ.com to see how much FastWeb pays – its looks like only $0.80 per lead – OUCH!  This is really low.  This website owner also trys to promote fastweb in the articles – but no Adsense.  I think they should be focusing more heavily on Adsense within the content of their articles to increase their income.  My guess is that this site earns almost $.80 on average per Adsense click (which is MUCH easier to get than a lead).

So, this site has picked what appears to be a good keyword, but could probably be monetized better.  In fact, they could probably generate education leads or something that pays more than Fastweb.  I think there is nothing wrong with turning this into a niche lead generation site, but the site is under-utilizing its potential right now in my opinion.

My guess is that this site has a low CTR of 1 to 3% for Adsense.  It probably pulls in around 3k visitors for its primary keyword a month but is probably only making $100 to $200 in Adsense.  I have no idea how much they are pulling in from FastWeb, but my guess is that its not more than $100 each month.  My guess is that this site is definitely earning less than $300 per month.

4. Nursingscholarship.us – Nursing Scholarships

Nursing Scholarships receives 40,500 Exact match Local searches each month and has a CPC of $3.09 and has high advertiser competition.  This is a great keyword to target as far as those 2 criteria are concerned.  (Remember I am not even looking at the top 10 competition in this post).  However, this site is ranking #2 in Google for its chosen keyword.

Here is what the site looks like:

This site is ranking very well for a very competitive keyword.  They are primarily monetized by adsense as outlined here; however, in the navigation bar, I also boxed a link that takes the visitor to another website owned by the same person/company.  Its obvious as there is quite a bit of interlinking between these 2 sites and actually several other websites as well. The Adsense placement is good on this site.  Its above the fold and within the content.  This probably gets a pretty good click through rate.

From just the one keyword, this websites is probably getting close to 20k hits per month.  I am sure they are generating just as much traffic from various other keywords as well.  When all is said and done, this website could easily be a $10k per month site.  Its hard to say – that prediction could be way high or even way low.  But I would not be surprised if this site is pulling in $10k or more per month.

Summary

In conclusion, I have covered 4 niche websites that I think are targeting keywords that have great search volume and high CPCs.  I discussed the pros and cons of the layouts of the websites to give you an idea of how I think a niche site should be monetized.  Remember, I did NOT go into whether or not anyone should be targeting these keywords as I did not really look at the competition levels.  My guess is that these keywords would be too competitive for me to go after.  I will discuss competition, and how to analyze the Google competition in detail in future posts.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you an idea of what a successful niche website looks like.  These are NOT my websites, but I think overall they have done a good job with their sites, and clearly they are ranking well for some great keywords.

Let me know what you think of my analysis – and feel free to post your comments or questions below!

 


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86 Comments for this entry

  1. Hey Spencer,

    Thanks so much for sharing some example sites. Getting to see how these pages are laid out (with your comments) is going to be a huge help to me in the next few sites that I build.

    How did you find these particular sites?

    Trent

    • Spencer says:

      Hey Trent – glad that you found these examples useful! I actually found these sites while I was doing some keyword research of my own. These are some of the markets that I had initially looked at going into this month – but I ended up going in a different direction.

  2. Solo says:

    I thought you targeted keywords with LOW competition?

    • Spencer says:

      I do target low competition. I think you need to reread the article. I specifically say that these keywords are probably too high for me to go after. I also specifically said that I was not looking at the competition in this article. Hope that helps.

  3. rahul says:

    Ads are too much. But yes can be successful.

  4. rahul says:

    Can you please tell me which one you prefer to buy?
    .net or .org..? from my analysis. I think .org booked first as compared to .net..??

    • Spencer says:

      I prefer .org. But I don’t have any solid evidence as to why. One of my best sites is a .net, so overall I think both are fine.

  5. Paolo says:

    Hi Spenz – Great analysis and I agree with them. Just curious, are you a member of TKA?

    Paolo

    • Spencer says:

      What is TKA? But I can tell you I am not a member – Im not a member of any online membership/course.

      • Paolo says:

        TKA => The Keyword Academy by Mark and Court. The way of the TKA is similar to how you analyze things. Probably because there is only one set of data (google data) :D

  6. Very interesting. Proves any wesite can be a success if you go about it the right way. Who would have guessed that these niche websites would have done so well.

  7. Jason Young says:

    Hi Spencer,

    For the Medical Assistant Salary site, isn’t using more than four ads on the page and wouldn’t it get penailized for that?

    Or is it that the ad block (can’t remembr the size) not looked at in the same way as the other ad blocks?

    Jason

    • Spencer says:

      This site will not get penalized because they are within Google Adsense guidelines for number of ads. You are allowed 3 block ad units (this site has 2 at the top and one in the sidebar). You are ALSO allowed 2 link units (in addition to the 3 ad units) – for a total of 5 adsense units total. The link unit on this site is at the top where a regular navigation bar goes. So in reality, this site could actually have 1 more link unit on their site that is not shown in this screenshot. Hope that helps.

  8. Solo says:

    Spencer,

    I understand that you said at the end that these keywords would be too competitive for you to go after. But earlier you state, “You can also see on the adwords tool that this has high advertiser competition – this is a GOOD thing for you. This lets you know lots of people are buying ads for this term – more competition usually means more money for you.”

    So, correct me if I’m misunderstanding this, but what you’re saying is it’s a good thing if you’re ALREADY ranked for a highly competitive keyword because that means more money but you wouldn’t necessarily recommend going after one from scratch.

    • Victor says:

      Spencer was refering to the competition of advertisers = great for us the publisher because it shows us that it is a stable keyword with solid income to tap into.

      The other competition, the one we want low, is the competition of the top 10 sites ranking in Google for that keyword. When we say low SERP Competition, it menas we are addressing the strength of the top 10 and thats made up of a series of factors which Spencer mentioned will be addressed in detail in future posts. But to name a few: Title, backlinks to page, and number of links to the ranking page. Hope that helps :)

    • Spencer says:

      Solo – sorry for the misunderstanding! I see what you are asking now.

      Okay, the “competition” shown on the Google Adwords keyword tool is for Advertiser competition. This is TOTALLY different from the competition levels of the natural search results in Google. When you are trying to determine how hard it would be for your site to rank in the top 10 of Google, you look at the natural search results and the level of competition there (which is determined by the top 10 ranking sites for your keyword). You want low competition here. On the other hand, the advertiser level of competition is shown in the adwords tool is something different. This shows you the NUMBER of advertisers bidding on this keyword. The more advertisers there are, the more likely that more money is being spent (hence the more you can make per adsense click). So, here you want to see HIGH competition levels because it means you are more likely to make more money per click. Does that make sense now? Sorry for the confusion.

    • Boris says:

      He means that if keyword has high advertiser competition it is a good sign, but if it also high search results competition then it is better not to go for it initially.

  9. Brankica says:

    Hey Spencer, I am here for the first time and want to say I love this post. The first site I have ever built is a niche site (although bit wider than these 4) and I still have it, with it being my main money maker.

    Although I have a blog which is doing great I am still bigger fan of niche sites so I am definitely going to keep up with what you post next :)

  10. Great article! Especially the part of CPC, i never see this part in google keyword tool!

  11. Solo says:

    Ah, I see now, I was totally confusing the “competition” in Adwords with the low competition you talk about in your LongTail handbook. I actually used it as part of my screening criteria…oops. So I was looking for >1000 local searches, >$1.00 and Low Competition. I think I understand now to ignore the Competition column in the Adwords tool when searching for keywords. Thanks, guys!

  12. Hi sir spencer, from all sites above, which one do you think is best. for a starter/newbie. more like the blog style or the professional one like site number 2??

    • Spencer says:

      Its difficult to say what would be best for a newbie, it just depends on what your goals are. I suppose that starting with WordPress and using a template is easier to get started, which works just fine. Once you find some success, you can get a custom logo/header if you want to make the site look more professional.

  13. Ralph says:

    Great to get some live examples.
    The backend of these sites are very different.

    The first one is done on an actual CTR theme on wordpress.

    Spencer, what is your preference or do you have a mixed bag of html and WP sites?

    Ralph

  14. Amine! says:

    Before making a final decision about any keyword make sure it’s shown in google ads by using Google Adsense Preview Tool:
    http://www.labnol.org/google-adsense-sandbox/
    and select usa.

    A relevant ad is one of the most important factor you must keep in mind to improve your ctr and earning, so it’s not just about themes.

    • Spencer says:

      Interesting tool. Definitely choosing a keyword/topic that has advertisers is important.

    • Kat says:

      Hey Amine, thanks so much for this handy tip!

      It’s very frustrating not being able to see what Adsense ads are showing to visitors from different countries, and this tool works great.

  15. can i have 3 block ads + 1 banner links? Will this get penalty

  16. lemuel says:

    Hi Spencer,

    What is your ideal exact local monthly searches?

    If for example I found a keyword that has 33K local monthly searches, is this highly competitive?

    Thanks.
    Lemuel

    • Spencer says:

      Lemuel: The number of searches does not determine how difficult the competition is for a keyword. So, there is no “ideal” number of exact match searches. Competition levels are determined by the top 10 sites that are ranking in Google for that keyword. So, you want to find a keyword that has as high a search volume as possible while still having low competition levels in Google.

  17. Boris says:

    Spencer the website #2 is of very good quality and i am sure Google is proud to have it in its search results. Here is why:

    Content:

    1. Website provides map of states for dental schools
    2. Website offers content on dental assistant job application
    3. Website provides information about salary in each state
    4. Website provides salary charts
    5. Website provides salary calculator
    6. Website has stock images for illustration

    Monetization:

    1. Website refers to dental schools and also dental schools offering certificates
    2. Website is not aggressive about AdSense ads, but i would separate 2 ad blocks if i was starting out.

    What is missing is a review of each dental assistant school which would add real value to the website, but in my opinion it is a hard task unless you find and pay to reliable person to do it.

    • Spencer says:

      Good analysis!

    • rahul says:

      Well i found these site a months ago. I was just wondering how he related all maps with salary data. From my point of view this is difficult. Because this site is big. Website no 2.
      They have many of these websites in network. But yes if your calculation is correct. They may be earning $25k from these websites network.
      Also, niche job, schools etc always have good CTR and can have lot of long tails.

      • Boris says:

        I wonder how they created that map. Is it Java based? Do i need to know Java to create this map and salary calculator?

    • Violetta says:

      Boris iam just concerned, what do you mean by ‘not aggressive about Adsense ads’ Do they(Google) penalize people for having too may ads or you are referring to offending the readers with many adverts ?

  18. Gabe says:

    Wow, check the back links for medicalassistantsalaryguide.org and there are tons of one page webspam sites linking to the site…example – http://www.isoonet.org

    It looks like he owns dentalassistantsalaryguide.org too. Same webspam links

  19. keith says:

    Just found your blog! Excellent examples of niche sites, even though they aren’t yours. I have a general idea of what to do and not to do. Subscribed.

  20. Norm says:

    Nice page always good to see some interesting niche site examples. Thanks for the follow on Twitter which is how I found your site – I’ve now subscribed.

    • Spencer says:

      Norm – its always great to connect through Twitter! Thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog – hope you can find some useful information on niche websites and other business tips!

  21. WOW!! Thanks so much spencer for sharing these sites and information. I can learn much better by seeing examples like these.

    thanks again

  22. Quick Question – Can you use the link ads along the top like they did in medicalassistansalary ? I had thought adsense TOS forbid you from trying to “trick” your customer into clicking on the ad ?

  23. Anton says:

    One of these sites actually belongs to the well known SEO specialist that even sells course on doing SEO, but I have to shut up my mouth here )))

  24. Zack says:

    You really bring the goods with this blog. If you launched a product you would make a killing.

  25. Haru says:

    seriously, its a good analysis..i had 2 different niche but adsense is not supporting in my country..when i try to put it on my sites, sometimes it appeared and sometimes dont.

  26. Great case studies very inspirational and your post is just awesome thanks for sharing bookmarked and share

  27. Karen Comer says:

    If you follow the formula, study the competition, choose a great keyword that fits the criteria, get a good domain name containing your keyword, add articles, get back links and follow good SEO practices how long is it before you can expect the site to start making money? At what point do you realize your site is a dud and move on?

    Very helpful article BTW.

    • Spencer says:

      I always use 90 days as a rule of thumb. You will usually start getting some traffic and start making a little money sooner than this. But 90 days usually gives you a good idea if you have a dud or a winner on your hands.

  28. Bryan says:

    Spencer – just found this blog (via a link at the Warrior Forum somehow), and I’m glad I did! I’ve been reading through a lot of your posts for the last hour. I am also addicted to Adsense and really started ramping things up in May. Already making some great headway thus far :)

    Anyway, wanted to chime in here and say thanks for displaying a few of these examples. Looks like the first site you mentioned is utilizing CTRTheme. While I don’t tend to favor “high CTR themes”, CTRTheme works wonders if you do a little work with it and customize it to your own specifics.

    Looking forward to reading a lot more and following you as I march forward to earn a full-time income from Adsense as well :)

    Bryan

  29. Violetta says:

    Great info here Spencer,cant imagine you are doing this for free(not a bad thing but im considering how we have been ripped off before for information that is a times half baked).

    My question is,suppose i do not want to create all these niche websites due to the time factor can i use established platforms like Squidoo, Helium,Hub pages etc and get the same results considering i use the competition and long tail concepts?

    Secondly, can i use free blogs(eg Blogger,Typepad,Wordpress) instead of hosted websites for my many niche websites?Thanks for this great info.

  30. Dorothy says:

    Actually, I answered my own question. I’ve been using the SEOmoz browser plugin and this gives me DA and links on the top 10 sites, which tells me how powerful my competition is…right?

    :-P

  31. Hey Spencer,

    I really wonder about your first example and the double block ad units above the fold. We use CTR Theme as well, but with SUCH aggressive ad placement our worry/concern was that if readers don’t see any content whatsoever on the site, they might just back out or “bounce” without even scrolling down.

    Of course, it’s nice to have so much monetization up top, but I wonder if they get more people bouncing on them WITHOUT clicking on the ads.

    Interesting anecdote: On one of our “authority sites”…right now, we’ve gone the way of NOT placing ads on the home page, actually. We have images/categories on the first page that people click through to get to the content. Because of this we have an EXTREMELY low bounce rate…everyone who comes to the site (via the primary or exact match KW) has to make another click to get to the area they really want, which will contain ads. I think eventually we’ll blend in just a FEW ad placements above the fold on the main page.

    Still, though…I kind of like this structure for an “authority” site. Very little (if any) ads on the home page, but well structured content with a directory to your posts/pages. That way when they get to the meat they were looking for, they now have a bunch of ads (relevant to what they REALLY want) facing them.

    • Spencer says:

      Justin:
      I agree. The ad placement is quite aggressive, and I don’t personally use placement like this. I also really think you make some great points about the no ads on the authority site example. As we both know, Google does take user time on site and bounce rate into consideration among a host of other factors for ranking sites.

  32. Hi, Spencer, what theme do you recommend us, what is your favorite theme that gets you the most adsense clicks?

  33. Kc says:

    Hi, Spencer,

    For keyword medical assistant salary, I see there are many similar sites in page1&2 in google, all of these sites are actually spammy, but it seems to me the site owners are still making money, is it a good strategy to be a copier/rewrites?

  34. Rose says:

    I just checked where the sites were now ranking – and your examples 1 & 2 are gone from the top three pages of the SERPs (didn’t check further than that).

    I’m guessing it’s because Panda didn’t like their aggressive ad placement?

    • Spencer says:

      That’s very possible. Since I don’t own the sites, I don’t know all the details, could be copied content or other reasons as well.

  35. Tony says:

    Hey Spencer,

    Great post, It really helps me to see examples of other websites, with your analysis on them. It helps build my confidence and hopefully motivate me to work harder.

  36. Very interesting huh? I am gonna try to shoot those keywords tho. Thanks for ur sharing :D

  37. Spenser:

    Wow thanks for sharing those examples!

    When the domain you really want is already gone: .com .net and .org, what about going for .biz? Anything wrong with that?
    One of your examples above is a .US domain. Also, what if you add a suffix to the domain i.e. domainsuffix.com or domain-suffix.com. Is that a lost cause, a waste of time?

  38. Summer says:

    Your site is awesome. I’m new to internet marketing and being able to see examples of niche sites really helped me understand this business model better.

    I think you’re an excellent teacher and I really wish you have an online course. I guess I’ll be purchasing Long Tail Pro so that I can have access to your video course.

  39. Walt says:

    Spencer, I use xsite pro for my html php websites. do you think wordpress would bring more visitors for any reason?

  40. Luis says:

    This is great stuff, man… Great info!

  41. jameel says:

    As seems Google Penguin hit hard to dentalassistantsalarydata.org website, in fact its completely removed it from Google SERP

    Try this searching in Google and you won’t see any results !
    site:dentalassistantsalarydata.org

    and currently this site is forwarding to http://www.allsalarydata.com

    My question to Spencer, is the Exact Matched Domain is something we should keep ourselves away ?

    I know few sites you mentioned in the post still ranking but IMO Google’s Sword is still hanging on them and sooner or later they will be gone out of Google SERP(?)

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Yes, the serps for the keywords have changed, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that they were exact match domains. But Panda and Penguin have both occurred since I wrote this. I would definitely still recommend getting exact match domains if possible. If not, its not a big deal, just use a keyword rich domains.

  42. Evan says:

    Spencer –

    Just found your blog, great stuff and this article is outstanding due to its clarity and your insights.

    2 questions regarding keyword research:

    1) In these examples you use the term Local search. What do you consider Local and why is this preferred to Global for a niche site?

    2) What is a hurdle rate for # of monthly searches a term must have to be worth pursuing? How is this computed?

    Thanks,

    Evan

  43. Farlon says:

    It’s interesting to look at some of these sites now vs when you wrote this post. Some of them have been slaughtered and left for dead. How things change is such a short time. It’s part of what makes this business frustrating and exhilarating.

  44. Rick says:

    dentalassistantsalary.com is now ranked 13 on Bing and Yahoo but has fallen all the way to 224 on Google. Is that because most of the backlinks are garbage from irrelevant sites? The content itself still looks fresh.

    • Rick says:

      Oops, I was looking at the wrong site! dentalassistantsalarydata.com is #5 on Bing/Yahoo and #57 on Google. Was it a casualty of a Google algorithm update?

  45. Buddy T says:

    Old post, I know. I had a medical salaries site and was, for a while, number one for “anesthesiologist salary” and making good money. One of Google’s animals crushed it.

  46. Bruno says:

    Hi Spencer,

    As this post is 2 years old, is it possible for you to post a similar article with 4 examples from 2013?

    Thanks!

  47. Yaro says:

    Interesting, i don’t see any of those websites in the top 10 results for the keywords they target. I guess they all got slapped by Google for having bad link juice.?

  48. Brian D. says:

    Hi Spencer,

    I’m a college student looking to understand how niche websites work. I have tuition due and would love to figure out how they work. I’ve already went to your website to read the information and I just have one question depending on my learning curve how long typically does it take for an individual to make a successful niche site and make start earning income?

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