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Good, Better, and BEST Niche Website Strategies for Long Term Success

Good, Better, and BEST Niche Website Strategies for Long Term Success

After I made my last post about the recent Google Panda update, I received LOTS of really great comments about different strategies that people employ to keep themselves “immune” from updates by Google.  This has got me thinking about my own strategy and how I go about doing things.  Don’t worry, I’m not about to say that everything I have said in the past is no longer valid and that I am going to be changing how I do business completely.  But I am saying that I always keep an open mind to different ideas and I may be adding some of these strategies to my arsenal.

As you are probably well aware, I have primarily focused on building “small niche websites” and building lots of them.  This has worked well for me in the past and honestly continues to work quite well for me (even after the recent Panda update).  The sites I built in August and September are really doing very well and have added a decent amount to my overall income.  These have all been what I call small niche sites of less than 10 pages of content each.

However, is building the small sites really the best LONG term strategy?  Yes, they work now – but will they always?  And as it appears that Google is making it harder to rank for certain things – are there better ways to go about building niche sites that still have the advantage of free traffic from search engines?  Well, these are some of the questions that I will consider as I discuss a few niche site strategies that I will rank as: Good, Better, and Best.

First let me clarify that there are more strategies than these 3, and a lot of the ones I am NOT covering here are often shady or poor strategies.  Some of those niche website strategies may include using automated/copied content, using spun content on your site, or other poor content strategies.  I draw the line at providing quality original content.  The content on your site really needs to be original or at least presented in an original and useful way.

A Good Strategy: Lots of Small Niche Sites

Alright, the first strategy which is essentially what I have talked about on the Niche Websites Hub here all the time.  My usual strategy is to build small niche websites with around 5 pages of unique content that is quality in that it addresses and answers the query of the visitor.  I optimize my site essentially for 1 keyword to begin with in the hopes of dominating the search engines for that term.  I do my best to get an exact match domain if possible, but if not, I’m fine picking up a keyword rich domain with a prefix or a suffix.

This is a good strategy because I can quickly build lots of sites and almost just as quickly determine if the sites are winners or losers.  If they are winners I will begin adding more content and grow the site.  If its not making much money after 90 days or so, I may let it just die.  This is the method that I talk about being a numbers game right here.  I have done very well with this method, but is the tide turning?  Well, lets look at the 2 other strategies that I call better and best for LONG TERM profitability.

A Better Strategy: A Few Large “Authority” Sites

Now remember, I am not saying that small niche sites are bad OR that I am abandoning that model at this point in the “game”.  I am simply stating what I believe to be the best in terms of a LONG TERM stand point.  Smaller niche websites will almost always start earning faster, but a large authority site has the ability to earn more over the long term.  I am in the process of also building a larger authority niche website (read more here).

What is an “authority” site?  Well, its simply a site that can speak as a professional resource in that niche.  The quality of content is usually better here as well.  A real authority site is not just about more content.  Just because a site has 100 pages or even a 1000 pages of content, does not make it an authority.  Ezinearticles.com has millions of articles, but I would never call it an authority on any of those articles.  The quality of content is just not there on most articles from article directories (typically).

An example of a site that I might consider an authority status is Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome.com site.  This site has lots of content and is well written and is truly viewed as an authority in the online marketing niche.  Pat has built a brand that people respect and want to visit over and over again whether or not Google exists (and this is key).

Another great example is UniverseToday.com – which is a site created by Fraser Cain in the space and astronomy niche.  Fraser doesn’t even build links to his site – they all come naturally because of the high quality of his content.  However, the site still has nearly 500,000 links and has a PageRank of 7.  That’s really the way it should be.  Fraser has built up a nice brand here and would do just fine without Google because people would share his content on Facebook or come back over and over again.  In fact, his Universe Today site comes very close to becoming the BEST type of site that I discuss below (and perhaps it is), but keep reading to find out the types of sites that are the best model in my opinion.

Authority Sites Immune to Google Updates?

These are both sites that provide very high quality and relevant information on the niche they have chosen.  These types of sites have much more LONG TERM value when compared to a small niche site.  Even though I can rank #1 in Google for a great keyword with a small niche site (and its still very profitable) – these types of sites can rank for thousands or even millions of keywords.  So, if they drop a few spots in Google for 1 keyword, its probably not that big a deal.

However, this comes back to my post about the recent Panda Update.  Because their content is higher quantity and because of the volume of content they are truly able to provide better value to the visitors of their sites.  This makes them overall much less susceptible to minor “tweaks” in the Google algorithm – because they are obviously providing what users want (and this is what Google wants too).

Obviously these types of sites are much more difficult to build – they require lots of time and effort.  I am still grappling with how to best approach these types of sites.  After all, is it always best to say right from the beginning, “I am going to build this into a 500 page site”?  Or is it better to take the approach of, “Well, I’ll build a 5 page site and if it has some promise, I will build it into a 500 page site”?  I am still leaning towards starting small and growing large.  However, the key here really is to provide high levels of content that you would be proud to show off to a Google manual reviewer :) .  You should be more than happy to have Matt Cutts come and visit your site.

The Best Strategy: Large Authority Site with “Tools”

So, what can be better than a large authority niche site?  Well, in my opinion a site that is essentially text content only can be made better with useful tools or services on the site as well.  This can truly make a site a destination spot for visitors to come back again and again.

Let me provide a couple of examples and then discuss.  One example is Bankrate.com.  This site is filled with thousands of high quality articles in the finance niche and that’s great.  But what really makes the site stand out even more is all the calculators that truly help users figure out their mortgage costs, insurance needs, car payments, and more.  Because BankRate.com provides some useful tools that users are truly looking for, they come back again and again.  This combined with the high quality content that they provide really gives Google a great reason to rank them highly for lots of keyword terms.  These are the types of sites (in my opinion) that Google REALLY wants to see.

Another example is CreditCardChaser.com.  This site also has lots and lots of quality written articles that helps it generate lots of search engine traffic.  However, you will also see that it has a unique way of helping people find the credit card that is right for them.  It helps user select cards based on features such as: cash back, rewards, low interest rates, etc.

How about something out of the finance niche?  Well, here’s a site that helps you find a camping site with interactive maps and directories (plus lots of content on the blog): OhRanger.com

Here is a golf website that helps you book a tee time: GolfNow.com

Then of course you also start to get into larger type sites with revolutionary ideas/brands such as: Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Mint.com, or eBay.com.  Sites that actually provide a function or tools to keep users coming back again and again.  These mammoth brands and the ideas behind them are perhaps better saved for another post as they really represent the .00001% of ideas (I just made that percentage up).  These colossal winners are very few in number.  I want to focus on ideas that the individual can start with very little funding.

Hopefully you get the idea of what I call the “best” strategy.  The best kind of strategy is to provide a site that is more than just basic text content.  If you can provide some sort of tool or service that actually helps the visitors to your site accomplish something – then that’s really a winning strategy!  If your website actually “does” something unique then you should never have to fear what Google does – because these are the types of sites that people are often very interested in.

So, again I think the BEST kind of strategy is a site that both provides lots of high quality written content along with offering some sort of unique tool or service that is highly beneficial to users.  Of course none of this is easy to do, but in the long run, its the best strategy.

I am actually in the beginning stages of discussing with someone else how the 2 of us can partner together to build one of the “Best” kind of websites.  The idea is to build something not just with a bunch of content that perhaps targets lots of long tail keywords, but also solves a problem or helps a human visitor in a way that they would want to come back or at least refer the site to others.  The kind of site that is similar to the 4 examples that I provided above.

All 3 Strategies?

As my business exists at the moment I am only building small niche websites and dabbling at building larger authority sites (I do have multiple sites with around 100+ articles apiece but still wouldn’t call them an authority site yet).  This is where my authority site project comes into play.  I am planning to build this newer site into something more viable that can hopefully provide high quality content to the user.

However, I am also in the early brainstorming phase for building a larger site that actually “does” something.  Down the road, I think these kinds of sites (if I ever do more than one) could hopefully become the best sort of long term strategy.  But for now, I suppose I am dabbling in all 3.

Small niche sites are great because they continue to make me money, but it really is alot of work finding keywords, building sites, and maintaining all of them.  I can outsource most of this work though.  However, I would have to probably build 1000 of them to achieve the potential income of the final Best option.  So, I suppose I am in a bit of a transition period of my business.  I will continue to make money with niche websites, and I still feel like there is a lot of opportunity there – but will it last forever?  Probably not.  Should you be thinking about what the best strategy is for your business?  Absolutely.

The great part about all 3 strategies is that many of the same basic principles apply.  Keyword research is vital to all three for example.  It is just so critical to know what people are actually searching for so that you can truly provide the information that they are seeking.  This can be done with a small niche site, and authority site, or a tool based authority site.  Long Tail Pro will continue to make keyword research easier for small niche sites, large authority sites, and tool based branded sites.

Providing real and relevant answers to people is also a common theme in all methods; however, the answers are often better delivered by the larger sites (but not always – I target some queries much better in some niches with my small sites than big sites ever have).

Is the Sky Falling?

I want to be clear here.  I am not trying to say that no one should ever build a small niche website again.  In fact, I will continue to do so.  However, as I experiment with larger authority sites, I may be migrating my business to this as my primary model.  I have always been about experimentation and adaptation, you would be wise to do the same.

Perhaps a good model for the newer person would be to find 5 good niches that they are interested in and have low competition.  Build 5 niche websites and then focus on and build the 1 or 2 sites that perform the best into larger authority sites.  If this works well, perhaps repeat the process.

Or if you want to continue building small niche sites in mass, go for it.  Just be aware of the risks which I have written about many months ago (I really not saying anything new here).  There are always risks with any business – and if you are not providing high quality content you are playing it very risky indeed.

As you build a small cushion of savings that you can invest, you can then go out and find that BEST idea that I discussed and invest in this site long term.  These types of sites need to have a unique idea, tool, or service that they can offer users.

Your Thoughts and Comments

I would be very interested in hearing what you have to say about my good, better, and best strategies for niche sites.  Do you agree with my assessment here?  In addition, I know that many of you can provide some exceptional insight that may help readers beyond what I have provided here.  Please take a moment to share your thoughts, advice, and feedback!

 

 

72 Comments for this Post

  1. Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    […] Good, Better, and BEST Niche Website Strategies for Long Term Success (Posted October 27th, 2011) […]

  2. Vijay

    Vijay

    Hi Spencer,
    I totally agree with you. I observed the recent 14th Oct panda update and I see only niche site hit by it. There is almost 50% drop in traffic for some niche sites whereas the authority sites remains the same.

    So clearly it’s indication that niche sites will be hit by Google again and again. Instead of struggling to rank these sites I think building a authority site may help.

    Thanks,
    Vijay

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Vijay – thanks for sharing! While I didn’t see as significant a drop in traffic from Panda – I can also see the value over the long term of building these larger sites.

  3. Steve Eason

    Steve Eason

    As usual, you amaze me with your insight and I appreciate your thoughts and comments. You weren’t kidding when you said in your email that this was a very indepth post.

    I can see the wisdom in migrating your business model to include larger authority sites. In our research for keywords, we’ve clearly found that some keywords have a potential for an authority site, where as others just couldn’t do more than a micro niche site. So I think the process of finding keywords will help you decide how to proceed with each individual site.

    I can see my business evolving into the same type of structure. Once we have a solid base of micro sites up providing a base income, then we can start outsourcing that process of creating the micro sites. At that point, we can start focusing on medium to large sites and moving upwards. It makes sense and I look forward to seeing how this works for you and hopefully one day following your example.

    Thanks again for the thoughts and insight.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Steve for the kind words! I agree that some keywords work for both micros sites and potential authority sites, while others not so much. Although, if you use the correct domain name – essentially any keyword could eventually grow into an authority site.

  4. Dave

    Dave

    Excellent summary. I think the idea of trying several smaller sites then building out the winners is the way to go (works for me, anyway). Adding tools to the site is also a great idea. I’ve found that if I can at least link to an external tool (ideally on a .gov or .edu site) with a small bit of copy or a post, I can often get quite a few visitors plus add authority to my site.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great input Dave…thanks!

  5. Bryan

    Bryan

    Definitely agree on expanding sites into larger authority sites.

    I think the best route to go is like you mentioned – start with a handful of niche sites (that you can expand on) and after you give them their first run, find the clear winner (or 2) and put more of your efforts into those sites.

    Honestly, Google will always be up and down. I just continue to strive to build quality websites that answer the questions of the visitor the best it can. At the end of the day, it’s all you can do. So far, so good.

    Bryan

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Bryan – I agree, Google will always be up and down. In fact, the best kind of site (as I mentioned) is one that doesn’t rely 100% on Google.

  6. ken

    ken

    This is totally off topic but in your previous posts, you always state what position your site in google is, like whether they are in page 5 or page 2 etc..My question is, how do you find this out, do you have tool for this? Because I do it manually by typing my keyword and then scanning the pages until I see my website….

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      You can check your ranks with Long Tail Pro here: http://www.longtailpro.com or I have also used the firefox plugin from SEObook.com. Both are fine to use.

  7. Stevewyman

    Stevewyman

    HI

    Yet another great thought provoking article “You should be more than happy to have Matt Cutts come and visit your site.” is so true and is Exactly what Panda IS doing. Plus with the Human reviewers following in pandas footsteps, its the future for websites.

    What I want to say next is important as im really in support of what your syaing here. I really believe that the only long term strategy that makes sense is to make a very few if not just one Authourity website as the very core of your business.

    However, in the short to medium term I will contiune to build small scale 10-15 page sites BUT with better content and longer pages providing more value to the reader and feeding the bear. Matt and the human reviewser will just glance at them and give the thumbs up.

    The reasons are two fold, theres a lot of money to be made still, the users behaviour is not changing. And secondly i beleive strongly in the concept of MicroBrands. Highly targetted soultions to the customer needs. Fast clear and simple. you dont want to read 10 reviews you just need the one that fits your needs.

    The other issue is that authority sites take a lot of money to build and it could be a field of dreams.

    So i’d like to support the model of doing a seriously large amount of research then start 10 page site and grow it as it proves itself. Reinvesting all the income into growing.

    This way you can really hit some home runs fast. A new site of mine thats only 2 months old. is 100pages of wpazon content and 5 of content but averaging $20 per day in amazon income. I would never have built it as an authority site. Its a Micro Niche brand. But ow ive seen the results Im investing in more content hand written by a Research doctor in that field ($25 per article) and a full blown worpdress theme development program.

    If i may be so bold Spencer, in your position SPencer i’d be tempted to increasingly outsource the full build of mini sites post kewyrod research all the way out to 90 day review. With volume that would be an attractive proposition for an external resource to porvide or your own tem of outsources. whilst you could apply your expertise to the higher end sites?

    regards

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Steve – excellent comments and CONGRATS on your $20/day new site!

      In regards to outsourcing all of my mini sites, I essentially do all of this already. Once I find the keyword and buy the domain, I essentially turn it over to my VA and let them get the site set up. I guess I still hire an article writer separately, but really everything is essentially outsourced giving me time to focus on other projects.

  8. Justin

    Justin

    Love the post, Spencer…and it falls in closely with some of our thoughts over the last few weeks and I mentioned some of it in my last post as well!

    As far as I’m concerned, you’ve built an authority site already. This one! If you could replicate the success you’ve found with NP into other profitable niches I’m sure you’ll make your mark.

    We have some tools we’re looking to build in the future that, I think, would qualify as well. If you put the same love, care, and attention into an authority site that you’ve put into this, I’m sure it will do quite well.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Justin! I think you are the first one to call this site “NP”. I like it – welcome to the NP community…

      You are right though, if I were to put the time and effort that I do into this blog into another site; Im sure I could build it into a real authority.

      I look forward to your future projects as it sounds like you guys are always trying to stay ahead of the curve.

  9. Mary

    Mary

    Hi Spencer, Very interesting article in which you made some excellent points. I do think offering a service or tool is a great idea. But I still think niche site are very useful. If someone is in a hurry and looking for “red shoes” as an example, they don’t want to sift through pages of content to find just what they want. I often think of something PotPieGirl said – “people don’t read they skim.” I wholeheartedly believe content should be as good as you can get it.
    I really like the idea of some kind of tool, but as far as I’m concerned that would be for those more technically able. The tech stuff is my own weakest point. It seems that a great many SUCCESSFUL people online are technically very capable. Great article though; keep them coming. Regards,

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Mary – I’m not technical at all either – seriously. However, I have my own keyword research tool that I “built” and I have other “techie” projects planned. I hire someone else to do all this technical stuff for me. You just have to come up with the idea, there are others that can build it for you.

  10. Michael

    Michael

    Hey Spencer –

    This is some really great content about niche websites and a strategy for long term. I actually started doing your suggested strategy already. I build a group of niche websites and wait to see which one performs best and then I keep adding content to those niche sites that perform best and try to turn them into authority sites. So far it has been working out pretty well. I really need to start adding tools as well like you mentioned to those bigger sites but that will be the next step. First I’ll concentrate on getting up as many small niche sites as I can and then build up a few of them and make them the best I can possibly make them.

    Thanks again for your useful post Spencer.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sounds like a great plan Michael!

  11. Blake G.

    Blake G.

    Great Post Spencer

    The few sites I have going now are all “authority type sites” at least they are planned to be. They are all new and none could really be called authority yet. The one exception is a small niche website I build after reading your E-book. I was already thinking I could build this into an authority type site on a smaller scale as the long term keywords seem to be endless. Thanks for letting me know I am headed in the right direction :)

    Blake

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sounds like you are indeed headed in the right direction!

  12. The Omar And Will Blog

    The Omar And Will Blog

    Hey Spencer! Great post. I love your 3 steps that you outline here. I have been tracking this panda stuff for some time now and I read a nice post on the warrior forum and says it says something pretty interesting. Basically put,

    “Do not waste time looking for answers to Panda, The Panda algorithm is designed to create panic. Period”

    Simple. Yet powerful.

    Sure some of our sites took a hit as well but it’s all about quality content and quality CONSISTENT backlinks. That is a “flaw” that there is with building out hundreds of sites. You should always strive for building winning sites that can get a great healthy amount of high quality backlinks.

    I believe sites should be built around a general topic (always do you research though for competition etc) and then you can build it out from there. It’s a lot easier to build out a site called “bicyclereviews.com” (if that term bicycle reviews is respectable with competition of course and you believe it is a good niche to get in) then having to build out a site that is called “cheapbicycletirebolts.com”.

    From there just add articles about different brands of bikes. I found this way to be WAY easier to build out a site.

    Always test the market with great researched sites around a great market and invest into it!

    Let me know what you think. Hope that made some type of sense.

    =-)

    -Omar

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I agree that it is indeed much easy to build out a general keyword than it is to build out a more specific one as you mentioned. Both are still doable, but one is better suited to become a true authority type site.

  13. Christiaan

    Christiaan

    I’ve always wondered where the Internet business would be going in the future. The people earning thousands now, will they keep this income in 40 years? Or 10 even.

    I actually do wonder what Google thinks of niche sites. There is A LOT of crap out there (pardon my Dutch) when it comes to niche sites, especially the small ones.

    As small sites prove to have steady traffic, I’d be sure to expand such a site and add more value to it. If there is enough traffic there, and enough quality content. Who knows, you might just end up with a valuable site (to the thousands of visitors) with dozens of pages, sitting at #1 in Google.

    It seems only natural to go from small sites as proving grounds, to bigger sites. That being said, I found the first niche I’m going to build a site for. Whoohoo!

    …and starting a new blog to keep record of these developments, my current blog is not suited for that I think.

    Thanks again for these insights Spencer

    • Rob C

      Rob C

      IMHO, Google is just lumping poorly implemented niche sites into the LW-WR category.
      Niche Sites, Link Wheels and Webrings. I think Google lumps them all together. I think Google is making niche sites prove themselves before granting the almighty PR. Small authority sites still get traffic and the “Little Guy/Blogger” still gets search traffic but the cut and paste, post and pray, too good too soon sites will get a human review.
      In the early days of the internet when alta vista and dogpile ruled the infant search world the internet was full of cheap and disgusting geo-cities-ish junk sites. Unless you had a dominant traditional media outlet like ABC.com you got zero traffic unless someone stumbled unto the site. Nobody understood the internet or how to use it, even webmasters. Google and Yahoo came along and organized the internet. Yahoo had Web 2.0 figured out back then but somehow screwed it up. Google followed up with a scrape, sort and clean mentality. The first Google victim was the old Webrings.
      Webrings were the dominant form of traffic delivery ten years ago. Like minded sites joined webring groups and shared traffic unless you were part of the community you could not get in. LinkWheels were simply a follow up tactic in reaction to Google. Eventually Blackhats overwhelmed them all and ruined the concepts.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Glad you found your first niche – best of luck!

  14. Dave M

    Dave M

    Hey Spencer! Great post as always. One question that I’ve been meaning to ask since you started your authority project is how do you plan to source its content?

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I know all about using services like Text Broker or 99 Cent Articles and have been using them for my own niche sites with great results. The thing I see, however, are these articles rarely match in terms of author voice and overall feel.

    What are your thoughts on consistency in content for authority sites. Do you have any tips or suggestions, or is it even on your radar?

    Thanks!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great question Dave. Right now I actually have some content from textbroker, but I also hired a writer on elance.com to do a batch of 20 high quality articles for me. To do it right, I should probably stick with 1 or 2 authors to keep the content consistent as you mentioned. So, I may be sticking with my elance author for a while, we will see…

  15. Mike

    Mike

    Yet another timely post Spencer. I have just started in this venture. I have built out three sites of which two are beginning to move up the ranks. Two days ago I made my first few pennies and I couldn’t be more excited. That all said this is something I have been thinking a lot about the past few days. It is my intention to build out 10-20 micro niche sites to hopefully generate enough income for the business to pay for itself. Then ultimately look building out a larger authority site(s). In the end you can’t try to game what Google is going to do next, there is a reason they have a bunch oh PhD’s on their payroll. Hate to say it but they are way smarter than us! Like you said build a good site that people will want to go to over and over and then you have a winner.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I agree Mike that Google has employees way smarter than me – but the low level Google manual reviewer may or may not be :)

  16. james

    james

    This is very useful and informative article.I have some ideas to create authority website with unique content and useful tools.I will brainstorm with my programmer friend to put some high quality website.

  17. Online PC Backup

    Online PC Backup

    I can see how the internet is truly starting to come of age. (thanks to Google) To me it seems much like the real world, where you can start a small business, that can be vulnerable to many of the startup risks of new business, but, if successfull, and gets over that initial 18-24 month teething stage, and as it grows and gets older, it starts to gain some momentum, and some financial strength, to where after several years, it becomes almost self sustaining, and then it can become a ‘hands off model’. I see building niche websites whilst a great commencement stage for your authority sites, is an essential step to weeding out the winners from the losers, and consequently, like the successful offline businesses, can be fostered, and developed into something much bigger over time

  18. Chris Miller

    Chris Miller

    Great post, Spencer. Thanks for sharing with us. I guess I have the same question as Dave M. I have begun outsourcing a lot of articles and I am just not sure i’ve found the right source yet that I could trust to write for an authority site. Any suggestions?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Textbroker and other places are great for niche sites – but if you have a larger site that needs more consistent content I would go ahead and hire someone off of elance.com or odesk.com or something similar.

  19. Bill

    Bill

    I agree with you in principle and have always believed that diversification is one of the primary keys in this business. I don’t believe that Google will try to completely choke off the niche site model, though. After all, there is a point where the strategy becomes self-mutilating. In other words, Google depends on advertising dollars. There has to be a platform.

    I think Google is aiming to simply elevate the value offered by this market into more viable and sustainable information. So, those working the small niche market need to come to terms with the fact that they need to offer something of substance in return for their revenue.

    One thing that I’m particularly interested in and don’t see anyone discussing is the competition. With Bing’s slow but sure increasing popularity, will there come a point where it becomes a viable option to shift the revenue target for small niche sites to something other than Google. I’d really love to hear some thoughts and insights on that from some of the people here.

    Thanks,

    Bill

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Bill, I agree that there will always be a place for smaller sites; its just becoming more difficult perhaps than in the past. Also, Im not sure what you mean about Bing. I get traffic from Google, yahoo, Bing, ask.com, and other search engines already on my sites. I don’t believe Bing or Yahoo really have an advertising network for publishers anymore like Google does. So, I stick with Google Adsense to monetize my sites, but I get traffic from all the search engines.

  20. doctor blogger

    doctor blogger

    Love the great post, Spence
    Could you show me a couple of examples for health niche ?

    thanks,

    qimi

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hmm, I’d have to think about – WebMD.com for sure is a good one :)

  21. Ray

    Ray

    Hey Spencer!

    Excellent content and I really like your thinking re: website strategies. It’s like building an investment portfolio for the long-term: Even though you’ve done really well with 1 segment of the market, you really don’t want to follow the bet-it-all-on-black strategy. How many times have you seen or read about some IM’er who built his/her biz around ONE method/strategy?

    I’m “experimenting” with 2 sites and I’m currently building a 3rd (small niche) that has very good potential. More projects in the wings.

    Keep up the great work Spencer!

    Ray

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Ray!

  22. Rob C

    Rob C

    Excellent article. One other back end tidbit that has happened to several of my google accounts. Since the Google+ roll out most of my site specific Google accounts have been selected for Human review and telephone confirmations. I have been forced to associate those accounts directly with my name or convert them into paid Gears accounts.
    As best I can tell after having to convert six blogger sites in just a few months, whenever a blog site starts getting traffic and earning adsense dollars the associated ‘Free Google’ account gets flagged for review. You really cannot complain though since commercial use of the free platform is against the TOS.
    Just another reason to not rely on Google.
    GRRRR!!!!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sounds like it time to start hosting your own sites then.

    • Mike

      Mike

      But on Blogger you have the “Monetize” option. How can that be against TOS when they invite you to do so ? I’m sure I even saw one or two Blogger specific popups promoting this service. You know, those in page little windows inviting you to “take a tour”.

  23. brian

    brian

    for adsense i was reading this article about smart pricing and havent really seen it written about much

    http://scratch99.com/website-management/make-money-online/smart-pricing/avoid-adsense-smart-pricing-on-blogs/

    worth a read….never thought about how getting social traffic will reduce CTR which would drop the payouts adsense will give you.

  24. Victor Pidkowich

    Victor Pidkowich

    Hey Spence,

    This couldnt have come at a better time. I like to think that Im a professional investor / entrepreneur therefore I too have been stressing the fact that I need to see things in at least a ten year lens.

    My solution has been to double up on content (10-20 six hundred to twelve hundred word STRONG USEFUL CONTENT full of images and video to start). Like you said, starting small and seeing if its worth growing is a wicked strategy. Only problem is that:

    A) We sometimes neglect to grow them
    B) We start with a “small site” therefore we are thinking small and dont put as much effort into it and its doomed before it starts.
    C) They are under water immediately after being deployed.

    So as the tides rises so too must our efforts. But I dont see this as being a time to consider massive leaps of faith nor do I think it wise to stay small.

    Rather step up the game and continue with the same strategy of making sites relatively small (larger than 5 pages and more useful to the reader and a better experience via images, video and the site feel/brand) and seeing if they are worth growing. Otherwise it could just be a process of dumping content out to the market which it very well could reject. This is why savy entrepreneurs test or dip their toes in the water in ways such as testing a market with adwords or running ads in a magazine which is solely setup to test the market reaction before committing to going full out.

    We can have all the numbers, but until we test they are just numbers. Our form of testing is similar, we spend the minimum (doesnt mean we make crap) in order to get a response from the market. This is important in allowing us to make quick decisions. Decisions such as whether or not to keep building and turning the wheels on something that has no positive reaction (I think this is known as “polishing the golden turd syndrome”), or to dump it before investing more time and capital so that your efforts can be best utilized elsewhere.

    Using your Good Better Best view, I am working inbetween the better and best. Authority is key, but this is a business and doing 200 articles isnt realistic atm. Plus who said that an authority site needs lots of articles. You said it yourself, provide something people come back for, and like any other business its the experience. Besides isnt that what separates Starbucks from Dunkin Donuts Or Tim Hortons (yes Im Canadain…)

    Or in other terms, staying at a 2 star motel as opposed to a 5 Star. The 2 star can be run down, poor service, out dated look and feel and have 50 rooms. The 5 Star could also have 50 rooms, be across the street from our 2 star example but have superior service, modern look and feel, a swimming pool you want to use and be able to charge a premium. In the real estate world theres a saying that goes “go the extra ten percent”. I think this is also what needs to be done for our online businesses.

    Our hotels are being “condemned” due to poor management, not because the number of rooms it has.

    I suppose Ill call my strategy the Mini Authority Site Strategy and yes its trademarked :P

    Thanks Spencer! Keep Us Posted!

    • BizHacker

      BizHacker

      I like the Mini Authority Site Strategy. Some topics would be hard to increase content.

      Perhaps a rewriting some of the contents to make it better would work too?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Victor, thanks for the guest post!! :) No seriously, great comment here. I really like your example of the hotels – great analogy there. Thanks!

      • Victor Pidkowich

        Victor Pidkowich

        My Pleasure. You’ve helped me so much that I just leap at the opportunity to give back :D

    • steve wyman

      steve wyman

      Some excellent point there victor and well put.And I fully agree that more pages dont make the site more authorative.

      Howeevr in some niches it is needed i think. If you get into a touch niche such as some areas of health and fitness I do think a mico niche (5 pages) will struggle as it simply cant get enough links to the domain to make sense.

      So a larger site (50 pages) will be able to carry more links to the domain than a small one.

      With time larger sites will win out. Unless your in such a niche were the big boys dont ocover those keywords at all.

      regards

  25. BizHacker

    BizHacker

    Hi Spencer,

    in the long term (wonder how long is it on internet terms), I agree authority sites like the ones you mentioned will surely do well.

    In the past, I’ve not “scattered enough seeds” & fail fast so after reading up on your site, I guess I wanted to launch several thin niche sites & then build up more authority sites.

    I think having an newsletter in another way to mitigate the effect of google dance but that will depend on the topic at hand of niche sites

    What do you think of having topic related sites & build up 1 that stands out. Leave the others there for backlinks instead of killing them? Or fold the info into the authority site.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I try not to interlink my sites for the most part. So if they are not earning enough, I will let them die.

  26. KimP

    KimP

    I highly agree with this. Pat’s niche site survived the update, but he has over 100 pages on his “niche” site.

    • Victor Pidkowich

      Victor Pidkowich

      Id like to point out that Pat also focused on quality from day one. He spent countless hours researching and writing his own material as well as calling and talking to schools in his niche, creating video, and adding content consistently.

  27. Long Term Strategies from Niche Pursuits

    Long Term Strategies from Niche Pursuits

    […] Check out his recent article, suggesting niche strategies for longterm success. […]

  28. Stellenanzeige schalten

    Stellenanzeige schalten

    Im not really sure, if there is a good better and best way. Its just about finding out, what works for YOU and thats a pretty individual task.

    Diversification is probably a very good way to minimize risks and losses, dividing income streams, while concentration on certain projects can also bring big advantages. I think a good way to handle all this is a nice mix of your activities.

  29. Tina Long

    Tina Long

    Great post, Spencer. Very thoughtful and detailed consideration of how we can change for the future in our approach to internet marketing. I’m just getting started and am not ready yet for the authority site approach, but it’s good to know it’s an option I should be thinking about down the line.

  30. Aaron

    Aaron

    Hey Spencer great post, and great comments from everyone (too many to name). My roots in IM are these adsense sites. Your website is what got me started to begin with. My very first site is the biggest, and best performing one so I think I am going to get back on the ball in building it up and adding content and pumping backlinks to it. I am dabbling in a couple of other things but I don’t want to forget about this method at all since its so easy. Thanks again for the great info!

  31. The Never-Ending Challenge Of Google's Algorithm Updates: not really a problem! | Perpetual Passive Income

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  32. Sandra

    Sandra

    Another informative post. Thank you!
    Personally, I like to go with the start small & see if it pans out kind of site, myself. Keep adding posts, all while building links, but if it doesn’t really earn much, then move on. If it turns out to be a winner, then keep expanding into an autority site, add a tool, build more feeder sites etc.
    It’s funny how some sites you thought would do well, don’t, maybe too much comp or not enough search vol & others you never thought would work out surprise you.
    Thanks again for sending me in the right direction.
    Sandra

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Awesome analysis Sandra. I couldn’t have said it better myself. That is almost exactly how I view it…start small and grow the winners!

  33. Mark Armstrong from Modern Seducer

    Mark Armstrong from Modern Seducer

    Not sure if my last comment went through. Basically I was asking if you ever look at your analytics and then start targeting keywords that people are using that you had not originally targeted? Example: your page is optimized for “Spencer loves Wheat Thins” but then you notice in analytics that people are arriving there for “Are wheat thins healthy?” and so you then add content to that site for that keyword.

    Overall I think the strategy with the niche websites is best where you add content to the winners and let go of the losers. Building out one massive authority site, no matter how cool it might seem and how many gadgets it has is still very risky.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Yes, I definitely do that. Thats a great way to find new keywords.

  34. The Ultimate Link Building Guide for Niche Websites | Niche Pursuits

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    […] already written many times about the risks of niche sites and better strategies; I almost felt it my duty to warn the uninformed.  But enough of the warnings; I’m ready to […]

  37. Bas

    Bas

    Great site! Maybe idea to have the leave a comment form also on top of the comments.

    Anyway, I’ve a question I started out a niche website in the weightloss sector (in dutch) found a 5 word keyphrase with 3600 exact searches a month.
    But my url is also this 5 word keyphrase + info. Very long and I guess its a bad name to make it an autorithy site ever.

    I know a lot about nutrition and fitness and love to write about it so thats why I started that website. (2 weeks ago) How can I ever make this an autorithy site. I guess I might have to change the website url so I can focus an a broader area.

    What do you think? Does the url matters? Is it better to have a shorter url which is broader. Switch now or switch later if it seems I can get enough visitors (only 1-3 a day now :D) for it.

    Keep up the good work, very good info here.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Just keep the domain as is for now. Build the site up and see what kind of traffic you can get. You might be fine never changing the domain.

  38. David

    David

    Really all you need is one website that gets over that proverbial hump and starts to generate money, traffic, and engagement.

    I’ve done the strategy of building and focusing on one site only (my first website way back in 2006ish) but I now believe that to methodology to be a mistake because, depending on the competitiveness, you might not see results for months or years.

    For example, Website Buddha has 70 pages of content and is 6 months old, re-directed from a 1 year old domain (I re-branded the website). Both under the old and new domain name this website gets ZERO visitors a day from search.

    But it’s also in a competitive space (and yes it’s indexed, it just not indexed for any keywords or phrases – I get no love yet for my hard work).

    So I would have been foolish to just put all my time into WB and ignore my other websites that actually support me, and to not focus on developing websites in a less competitive market.

    Some websites take more time than others.

  39. Dreaming Big and Calculating Profits for Your Online Business | Niche Pursuits

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  40. Should I Build Large or Small? Taking a Portfolio Approach with Niche Sites | Niche Pursuits

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  41. Ramo

    Ramo

    Hi Mr Spencer
    i will start building The Niche sites , it’s Will Working in 2014 ? , i things will still working if i write a Good Quality Content and Best On-page Seo but were can i find Best Quality Seo Content , Please ?

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