Excited for the Future of Niche Sites

By Spencer Haws |

I’m excited to see what the future brings for niche sites.  I really am.

I think in the next few years, there is going to be lots of opportunities for intelligent webmasters to do very well with niche sites.  But that will require innovative thinking, and the strategies of yesterday won’t work anymore.

As recently discussed, Google has come out with the Exact Match Domains update and Panda and Penguin updates as well.  These have thrown some niche marketers for a loop, because their sites are no longer ranking where they used to be.  Some have even thrown in the towel completely; giving up on building sites that generate traffic from Google completely. Rather than change how they build sites to match the changing times, they have just given up!  Are you someone that will let a small bump in the road make you give up on your business dreams?

My opinion?  You’re crazy not to try and get some free Google traffic.  Its free traffic!

As mentioned, the latest updates has only had about a 13% negative impact on my sites overall.  In fact, some of my sites are ranking better now than they were before.

Yes, any negative impact hurts, but because I have sites that are still performing well, I can compare them to the sites that are not.  Its pretty clear to me, the direction I will be going with my niche sites in the future.

Here’s what I see:

Simple right?  Well, it should make you re-think how you are building sites and link building.

A Better Content Strategy

If you are paying someone on Fiverr (or some other cheap outsourcer) to write articles for your sites; its eventually going to catch up to you.  In addition, I think a better strategy is to not only write high quality articles, but to create a true resource for your niche.  This might include a video course, free ebooks, clickable maps (like Pat Flynn’s Niche Site example), actual independent ratings and reviews, custom software, dynamic calculators, and more.  In other words, you will be better off is you can provide something ORIGINAL on your site that people can’t get anywhere else.

This requires thinking “outside the box”.  If all you have is text content on your niche sites, you should really start thinking about how you can make your site more useful and interesting.  I’m NOT saying that you MUST have something besides articles on your sites; I’m just saying if you can do something original and useful – you will be ahead of the game.  This might be as simple as creating original graphs or charts with reviews and ratings.  Or it could be creating a free guide that other sites in your niche don’t offer.  Its time to think on your feet.

Also, I mentioned previously that I would be building larger sites; starting out with 25 original articles or so.  Please don’t get hung up on this number.  Its more about the quality than the number of articles.  You might be able to rank just fine with only a handful of articles.  But if you truly want to be the go-to source for your niche; chances are you will need more content.

A Better Link Building Strategy

I have to admit, that I have relied on poor link building strategies in the past.  I was using Unique Article Wizard or other low quality link building tools to get the majority of my links.  That’s just not going to cut it anymore.

True links that Google actually cares about can be obtained by networking in your niche, providing a valuable resource to others, guest posting, obtaining the links that your competitors have, finding high quality directories, and other techniques.  And by all means, please make sure you aren’t keyword stuffing your anchor text.  Penguin will kill you for that.

There may be a place for article marketing and automated link building tools (like UAW), but I would rarely if ever use them to point links directly to my own money site.  These tools could be used to build up web 2.0 properties or other domains that are secondary.

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Multiple Sources of Traffic

The easiest way to get traffic is from Google and webmasters would be crazy not to do everything they can to rank well in Google.  But Google traffic can also be the easiest to lose.  So webmasters should also be doing other things to get traffic.

My number one advice is to start building a list in your niche.  When you get a visitor to your site, try to convert them into a repeat visitor.  I personally use the Welcome Splash plugin to build my email lists.  I developed this plugin along with Chris Guthrie earlier in the year.  Most of my leads now come from this quality list building tool.

Even if you have an Adsense site, build a list.  Once they are on your list, you can send visitors to your new posts or you can introduce them to relevant products.  Trust me, its a better long term strategy.

I have one niche site that has over generated over 2,000 leads on my email list.  That site no longer ranks as well in Google, but with one email, I can get more traffic to that site that I would get from Google anyway.

In addition, so many strategies exist for generating traffic from forums, blog commenting, guest posting, paid advertising, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, and more.  Its time to take a more complete approach.

I would still advise that you do everything you can to rank well in Google, but don’t be afraid to put other traffic strategies into play as well.

All Starts with Keyword Research

Overall, many of the basics of niche sites remain the same.  You should still be starting with keyword research.  Long Tail Pro can help you brainstorm and find low competition keywords.

In fact, keyword research may be even more important now.  You need to be focusing on keywords that can be built into something bigger.  Maybe before you could build a site on “men’s red pants”, but I would really recommend finding a broader topic now.

As mentioned, I will personally be focusing on keywords that have exact match search volume of anywhere around 4k to 20k a month.  This will allow me to develop a fuller site on a bigger topic as the site shows promise.

The Payoff Can Be Even Bigger Now!

I’m excited for the future of niche sites, because the return on investment might actually be bigger now.  Bigger sites focused on slightly larger topics have the potential to bring in bigger monthly returns.  Rather than re-investing all the returns into new sites, I can now focus on making a handful of sites into bigger and better resources.

Right now, I have 2 sites that I am working on.  I plan on working on these sites exclusively for the next couple of months.

I’ve already found the keywords and brainstormed how I can truly make the sites into something unique and useful (more than just a bunch of articles).  I’m excited to see how these sites go and will be sharing the progress of these in the future!

Your Thoughts

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What are your plans for building niche sites down the road?

Blogging & Niche Websites | 83 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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How do you plan to go about launching these larger sites. Will you wait till you have, say 25 articles (or whatever) completed and launch it all at once, or will you drip them in as they are completed?


Spencer Haws

I will drip them out as completed for the most part. Its okay to build a site slowly. I won’t start link building though until the sites has a dozen or so articles at least…


While i enjoy reading your blog, that damn pop up for your keyword tool is so annoying.

Omar @

Awesome stuff Spencer. I agree with you about thinking outside the box.

I’ve been around for a while now and have felt that G would be shifting to these type of “bigger sites”. I am currently running many tests as to what type of sites they favor and when I see results, I will update you!

I also agree about the LINKS. These Xrumer blast things should not be used to hit your MONEY sites ever. We all know that they are junky links, and junky links can’t get you to rank (for a respectable amount of time anyway).

I highly believe the best links are high PR links because they are the hardest to get, that are within the content of a website.

Keep pushing Spencer!


Spencer Haws

I’m excited to hear about your bigger sites Omar!

Clint Wilde

Excellent tips and advice Spencer.

I posted a question to you about on on of your other posts last week about using automated tools to get back links. Are you saying automated tools are outdated now?

I have several niche sites that are getting ready to explode (positive thinking), but is manually linking the only way to do it now? Do you have a recommendation to get high quality links faster?

Thanks a bunch. You rock!

Spencer Haws

Automated tools usually provide low quality links. If anyone can push a button and get the same links you are getting, its probably not that valuable. As mentioned in the post, I wouldn’t use them to link to your money site. you can use automated tools for secondary links/sites if you want.

Manual link building works. Even better is link bait, guest posts, or create something original that you can network with (ask for links) or post in other locations.

You don’t need alot of high quality links. Just a few usually. Focus on just a couple of high quality links, and you won’t need very many.

Clint Wilde

Interesting … thanks for the tips!

Matthew Allen

I share your sentiments exactly Spencer. I love how you’ve approached this EMD hurdle. Instead of sitting on the sidelines and whining and giving up, you’re tightening up your laces and getting back in the game.

I’m excited about building sites that I have more of a passion for rather than small sites on subjects I care nothing about that I picked just because I thought I could rank. Also, we niche siters won’t necessarily have to be so secretive with or niches or keywords any longer if we are building bigger sites. We won’t have to be so worried about somebody stealing our niche or domain names.

Can’t wait to get my next site rolling and share my entire process with whomever cares!

Spencer Haws

Great attitude Matthew!


“Its time to take a more complete approach” – Spencer, I’m going to quote you on that. This is the best one-liner I’ve read about Google’s latest updates and niche site business model.

Spencer Haws

Okay, quote away 🙂

DeAnna Troupe

That was actually my plan from day one. I chose to build one massive site built around a tightly themed niche. So far it has weathered all of the Google updates because I focus on putting up content that my human visitors will want to see. I do think you’re on the right track.

Spencer Haws

Glad to hear your site has weathered the updates!


I like the idea of being different. I’m going to try and use multiple delivery methods and really engage on social media. I’m getting 100-200 visits per day with long duration stays and multiple pages visited. All the traffic is coming from Non Search sources. The blog is only two months old and will take some time to rank. I’m glad I’m seeing some alternative traffic methods in the meantime. I can’t wait to start ranking for some of these keywords and really see some traffic coming in. Looking forward to hearing and learning what you do.

Spencer Haws

100 to 200 visitors a day is a GREAT start!


I think Godaddy’s sales are affected by this too, but I’m also excited at the prospect of not buying too many domains but focusing on only a few or even one site. We know that the business model is fast-changing and extremely volatile regardless of the size of your site, but how do you see this like a year from now, like exactly on October 9, 2013? I mean, I see this business as unique in that the frequency of black swan events is phenomenal. People can say they’ve predicted the changes and they’re not surprised but I think they’re having a hindsight bias, like me personally I was surprised at the recent EMD black swan and I think a lot of people were too, but they seem to all be saying they saw it coming and no one’s saying they’re surprised.

So I see this as a game of surprises, a very fast and volatile medium where the element of the unexpected is strong (like remember your adsense account? — anything unseen can happen), so if you were to assume, you being someone I look up to, what type of black swan event do you think can still happen (their occurrence being not a matter of if but when) to this authority type of niche model?

Spencer Haws

The definition of black swan events are events that can’t be predicted. So, I won’t pretend to be able to predict what could happen. I will only say that things WILL happen.

That is precisely why you build quality sites using multiple sources of traffic. And by all means build an email list.

This will mitigate risk to a degree…but black swan events will always occur. Both bad AND good though! This is true of ANY business, not just internet businesses.


sometimes I get confused by advice from Spencer and that is Should I go for niche sites or shouldn’t 😉

but one thing is clear building authority sites is what going to work in long run!


I think there’s no such thing as long run when your business is dependent on somebody else’s website.

Tom Hanson

Hey chris,

The web is just a series of interconnected pages.

You’ll always be depend upon somebody or something.

If you base your BUSINESS around finding ways around rules then sure its shorter

there are tons of business’s that receive very large numbers of visitors every day from search engines and have done so for years. Many of them older than Google.

The problem most of us suffer from is “now” we want it and we want it now. when others get it now we also want the easy trip.

People follow spencer, flippers, mike for maine, those new young upstarts ($20K investment from outside! wsotesters – 5 years for niche sites turned into 5 days!) and try to simply copy with out improving or understanding the very high risks these guys were prepared to run.


Hey Tom,

You’re right and that’s a great quote! Yeah it’s just a series of interconnected pages and we have to not just copy others.

But regarding interconnection, i think it all differs on the level of dependence.

Spencer Haws

Chris – you may have missed the whole section in my post where I talk about not relying on Google for all your traffic. Build an email list, use other sources…this was all discussed.

Perhaps we all relied too much on Google because it was easy traffic. But not you should use all traffic source. Still use Google as much as possible, but traffic can come from other places.


thats exactly right .. BUILD THAT LIST. Did I say Building that list? its all based around gathering your herd. Whether your a radio star that gathers listeners (then gets advertising), A speaking guru that gathers followers, etc etc its the same you got to build a list to creat a following to your site. Having warm clients is what its about and google is only one tentacle in and as we all know now .. you can rely on google.

Relying on one source is a DUMB strategy.. else we would have put our life savings into Enron, Bought a shop full of Rubiks cubes, etc etc … it doesnt work in the offline world and client building is just as important so why wouldnt you repeat the same strategies in the online world to suit.


Spencer. Can you adjust this comment plugin or system to include the ability to edit posts? thanks.

Steve Wyman -

Hi Spencer,

Up until now I also built Niche sites and then Micro Niche sites. The benefit to me of that approach was not being able to slap up low quality content (which i avoided) but the ability to cost effectively test many niches looking for gold. Many valuable niches would never have been found using the new model.

Its not so much time to adapt as to Evolve. It seems that we have to grasp the nettle and build fewer but more in depth sites. Matched with more in depth keyword research and planning of site developments. A much bigger commitment in time and money.

I don’t suppose anybody would disagree with the long term benefits of a bigger deep site and the extended use of social media and other metrics to gain traffic.

Maybe your right, medium to long term the harder it is to compete in a niche, the better it is for those prepare to commit both time and money.

I look forward to seeing how your new process develops.

Spencer Haws

I agree that lots of small sites made it easier to test niches. With less small “site testing”, more in depth keyword research is required. Evolution is good for those willing to do so.

Steve wyman


Unless you think youve covered it already?

I’d like to see an article on how you’d use LongTailPro going forward to target authority niches.

Im assuming a move away from pure EMD domains to maybe phrase or brand.


Spencer Haws

I can do another post. However, the process is still essentially the same. Just find keywords with a little higher search volume (as mentioned), and do the competitor analysis to determine if its low competition.

The difference is that you would use Long Tail Pro for each and every post you write for your site. Each additional post would target a different keyword. These “secondary” keywords could obviously be much lower search volume, etc.

But in reality, even this is what I’ve been doing in the past with micro niche sites anyway.


Spencer, speaking of competitor analysis, I’ve been using LTP since it first came out and I’ve noticed that in the last few months there’s really no rhyme or reason why the sites are ranking fora lot of the keywords I’m analyzing (at least in my niche). Before the Google update in April (I forget which animal that was) there were clear patterns as far as title, description, keywords, page rank, etc. for top ranking sites. Now, there are very few indicators that I can see in the Competition Analysis tool that gives me an idea on how I can rank for that keyword. Many top sites have 0 page rank, no links, the keyword is not in their title or description, etc.

I’m certainly not an expert, but this tells me that Google is using something other than these factors to rank a site. Is it a complex set of rules for the content? I don’t know. What are your thoughts on this?


As usual great article Spencer

But Im not sure I agree with your comments about Fiverr!

I personally enjoy content writing and have a GIG on Fiverr and I pride myself on writing unique quality articles for my customers!

Wherever you get content surely you should check and validate it before you publish?


Spencer Haws

Sorry Mike! The quality of content definitely depends on the individual provider and not necessarily the site source (fiverr, textbroker, elance, etc).

I definitely check the quality before I post.


Hi Spencer,

Very good points you have putted here, I am agreeing with every one of them. For sure with the latest Google updates and modifications you will only have a chance if you are doing the work in the right way. The article have to be informative, original and have quality, the think that I want to ask you is how you outsource some of the article, I am using

Can you recommend some good ways to have content?


Spencer Haws

I use sometimes and I hire individual authors on However, my best content are the articles I write myself.


Woukd it be worthwhile to throw out a dozen micro style sites to test the waters before diving in to a 20 page site that may not fly?

Also interested in your new top ten competitor criteria for that 4-20k range.

Great stuff. And LTP is a great tool, thanks!

Spencer Haws

No, it wouldn’t be; in most cases. Because you are not likely to rank those dozen or so micro style sites without putting in a lot of quality link building efforts. With so many sites, you aren’t likely to do the quality link building; therefore you will never really know if you could rank.

Why not just do more keyword research up front and then pick a niche that you are passionate about or can see is low competition?

Will @

Great post Spencer!

You are right on point since we must adapt to the changes and keep on going. Quality versus quantity indeed. I still suggest to always diversity and not to just rely on Google since next “Zoo Animal” that comes out could target another aspect lol

Seems that its just over optimizing for the keyword so we need to rank naturally without ranking =-)

Also the reason it makes sense to have facebook and twitter on a site especially now it will be big its because you can have people returning and interacting there giving you a chance to build a list.

Using google for initial traffic but making sure they keep coming back to you without having to go to the search engines.

Spencer Haws

Exactly. This is precisely what I mention under my “Multiple Sources of Traffic” section of this post.

Bradley C.

There is much to consider when determining how to move forward from here, but I have certainly given it some thought over the last 6 months (since my sites were destroyed by Penguin). Although not everyone will agree on what the future holds for niches sites, I think that it all boils down to raising the bar in EVERYTHING that you do on your sites.

Every site you build needs to be something you can be proud of. This is easier when you have fewer sites. Some people see this as a disadvantage, but really it only means that you will need to find a way to make more money per site, instead of taking a shotgun approach and settling for $10 to $15 per site per month. This is easy to do if you focus on the right niches, and monetize with something that people actually want or need.

Pat Flynn’s well-known niche site still ranks #1 for it’s main keyword, which is a strong testament to the power of creating a high-quality, “authority-style” site. But, despite his success with that site, I think that focusing on Adsense is still going down the wrong path and leaving a lot of money on the table.

Even something like “rodent control” as a niche (just making this up) allows for good, long-term potential as a niche. You could collect email addresses in exchange for a free “Top 10 Tips to Keeping Your Home Rodent-Free.” Then, send your subscribers 1 of those free tips every couple of days. However, in addition to sending them a tip, mention that they can also sign up for your video course that teaches them, step-by-step how to get rid of rodents from their home. The price for the video course is $19.99, but because it’s videos it has a higher perceived value. With just one sale per month, you have already exceeded the previous standard of making $15 per website via Adsense. Is it more work to set up? Yes. But, the potential payout is much more. Plus you OWN the product, which allows for even greater monetization potential via Clickbank, etc.

Just my $0.02.

Spencer Haws

Agree 100%. Your example is great as well for how to monetize outside of adsense. I have done this exact thing on one of my niche sites (but I sell an ebook as opposed to a video course).



Your last post had a lot of negative comments including one from alas myslef. Now we have the EMD to chip away at us.

However since then I have come up with a plan for niche sites that will have 4-5 ways of monetisation and have unique content but will not cost an arm and a leg to make.

Check the site in my submission here. You will see something interesting that replaces adsense. (yeah I got banned)This is not the end result but of the blueprint but the beginnings of implementation.Will change again for new sites.

As for EMD’s you do a site about sausages then just buy a domain called rather than Easy really. Opens up a whole new world.





Spencer, Nice post as always ! I found social media as a great contributing factor in ranking these days. Pinterest became my major source of traffic for one of my niche sites! Besides, content curation is another great way to add value to a site. Curating great posts in the niche can really boost the traffic ! In fact, I have had success with this strategy 🙂


Spencer Haws

Interesting that Pinterest sent so much traffic!

Quinn at Cubicle Free

Awesome Spencer, So glad that you are going in this direction now too. I 100% agree that the opportunities are bigger now. I have been working on a new site with the focus of it being useful so that it attracts natural links. In its first month is has made $20 in affiliate sales. I expect big things to come as even the top ranking sites appear to be very low competition with all of googles changes. Cheers, Quinn

Spencer Haws

Awesome…thanks for sharing your success Quinn! Best of luck growing the site…

Alex B. (@DreamJobGuy)

Hey Spencer!

Great advice — I couldn’t agree with you more about taking a more complete approach. I have been following the internet marketing world for quite some time now, and I have never actually produced a “small, narrow, niche site” for the very reasons you mentioned above.

I’ve always been someone who lives for a purpose, and everything I do, I set out to make a difference. A difference that I honestly felt in my heart was of value.

The concept of micro niche sites never excited me. It seemed to be a method of trying to do whatever, however, to get Google to see the site, bring in traffic (relevant or not) and hope someone clicks on an ad. That idea of business just did not excite me.

Finding more broad niches that allow to really “serve” the community is where it’s at. You will be able to develop and maintain relationships that will carry you much farther then entirely depending on Google ever will.

Again, great post and advice Spencer. I love the direction you’re taking, and I certainly look forward to the future!

I wish you much continued success!

All the best,


I really like the idea of creating something original in terms of content, such as software or calculators. An inspirational post and has set my mind buzzing.

Spencer Haws

Glad it could get the wheels turning for you!


Nice article! But I have two question, if you choose a keyword with 4k-20k monthly searches I should be pretty hard to rank, shouldn’t it? Are you going to try to rank for relevant keywords with lower competition?

Second question, I currently own a “nice site”, it’s my first one, with 20 articles and get about 80-100 daily visitors, I get 50-70€ per month, what do you think should I do with this site, try to make it to a bigger site?


Spencer Haws

No, not necessarily. I have found lots of keywords in this range that I would still consider low competition (maybe not super low, but still low). It just takes some digging to find them.

Whether or not you can make the site bigger is up to you. Does it have growth potential? Most likely, yes, you should grow the site.

Malds Menzon

I actually like this whole move to more authoritative sites instead of niche ones. I currently have two sites that I’m building into authority ones and I plan to really work on them the next couple of months and hopefully start guest posting for promotion sometime in November. I’ve also started getting traffic from forums that im active in and that’s worked out really well for me so far. I’m still looking for other traffic sources though.

Spencer Haws

Glad you like the move…you are going to be seeing a lot more of it around here 🙂

Steve @ IngeniousInternetIncome

Thanks for the update. It’s good to hear the confidence in your voice, well your writing. Knowing that a good portion of your income was coming from niche sites, seeing that you have only a 13% impact is encouraging.

As for my niche sites, I’ve been moving on to more long term sites as my focus, such as my main site Ingenious Internet Income. I’ve let my niche sites just sit as they are and give some time to see what happens. I might revisit those in the future with different content and new proper link building. But for the moment my focus is elsewhere.

Charles from France

Hi Spencer,

Indeed, it’s time to create authority sites with relevant content. However don’t you think that visitors will no longer be interested in advertisements, CTR may reduce, no?

Spencer Haws

Repeat visitors will have a low CTR, yes. But if you do your site correctly, you can still get plenty of search engine traffic which will have a higher ad ctr. Also, there are LOTS of ways to monetize a site beyond ads.

Jon @ Authority Site Income

Spencer, enjoying reading your take on the direction to take your business!

What Google has effectively done over the last year is increased the barrier to entry, you can no longer create a thin site with poor content and automate link building to make some money off adsense.

What will be the result?…

Whenever a markets barriers to entry are increase the results are predictable… fewer entities(websites) will enjoy a greater share of the pie.

Like you said this is a great opportunity to be one of the bigger fish in your chosen niche!


Spencer Haws

exactly. well said.

Sgt Stedenko

It seems that deep pockets have crowded out the little guys again. Just like the big box stores have killed the mom & pop store. Google is just a rotating billboard on the net and its first page is up for sale. Any keyword with commercial value will be controlled by big money. Its silly to think a reliable source of income can now be created by the average site owner. Dont like to be negative but reality of the net as a somewhat reliable income source is gone.

Spencer Haws

If you’re not willing to put in the effort, you won’t become one of the “big boys”. That just means less competition for those of us willing to put in the effort.

Sgt Stedenko

Hard work yes but ignorance of googles purpose is plain stupidity. Of course If u make money by selling gadgets to dreamers then a rosy outlook about google is required. Cash flow by any means justifies the method. Time to create social traffic instead of google traffic. But social buzz about toasters on amazon via an affiliate site is not what social is about. The gravy train is ending, 9-5 is starting to look like plan B. adsense flippers has gone to mostly selling niche sites to unsuspecting noobs that have no chance of making decent long term money.their adsense income has been killed and thats from some really intelligent guys and theur factory of niche building. Reality sucks when its not what you want to see.


Hi Spencer –

So is it safe to say that your plan for the future of niche site is to create authority sites instead?

You keep referring to niche sites (maybe because it’s in the name of this site) when it really sounds like you are talking about authority sites.

Or do you see some sort of difference between the two that I’m not picking up on?

Thanks and keep up the good posts!

Spencer Haws

I don’t like the term “authority” site. It confuses people. But yes, essentially I am talking about authority sites (as other IMers like to call it).

A niche site does NOT mean a small site. A niche site is a site of any size that focuses on a narrow topic. is a niche site focusing on niche business ideas. is a niche site focused on passive income online. could be considered a niche site on technology. is a niche site focused on Search Engine Optimization. All of these sites could also be considered authority sites.

On the other hand, is NOT a niche site because it doesn’t have a clear focus (it covers politics, breaking news, sports, business, everything). is not a niche site. is not a niche site because it has articles on every topic under the sun. is not a niche site.

Niche site has nothing to do with size. It could be a million page site. Hope that makes sense.

Dave Starr

One keyword technique I feel is vastly neglected/under rated is using a site itself to tell you what it needs more of. Once you have a site established, put a comprehensive tool like Google Analytics or (my fave (free) on the site. Tune back in after a week or two. You will see what people are entering which causes Google (or any other search engine) ‘thinks” your site is about. Statcounter will even tell you your Google rank for top keywords. Then, build more content around those words.

Example, your site is about Blue Suede Shoes. You notice people being sent there for the term “Blue Suede Shows With Zippers”.

Well then, get to ‘zipping’, that is writing articles which use the already known, successful term and when necessary ‘steering” the subject toward a keyword you feel more desirable. It’s win-win, becuase Google has already told you what it likes your site for. (Another hint, ever go to the Google Keyword Tool and type in your site’s URL? Presto a ‘relevance sorted’ list of what Google knows and likes about your specific site. Golden information)

Spencer Haws

I totally agree with this. I’ve done this many times for my sites to uncover great keywords. In fact, I’ve done it many times here on I include keywords in my titles that I found from my analytics…


Hey Spencer –

I can see that a lot of people would give up after seeing their hardwork get crushed by Google time and time again. I’m really struggling with keeping motivated myself when my websites are getting smoked time and time again especially when I am making sites 100% good in Google’s eyes and they still get penalized for no reason at all. Seems like a waste of a few months. Very frustrating.

I guess I will just need to adjust with the times and find something that works and rely less and less on Google and more on offline marketing and other sorts of traffic.

I should really get into email marketing as well. However I can’t justify spending money on it right now when I don’t have a ton of visitors to my website. If I don’t have visitors I won’t get email opt-ins and if I don’t get opt-ins it isn’t worth paying for an Aweber account. Just my logic.

Guess I’ll focus on getting multiple streams of traffic first again and then go back to the basics with email and monetizing my main authority website.

Thanks again for the useful post.

Brad @ Gain Traffic

Spencer – do you have any of these sites now or just the two that you are working on?

If so, how are they doing? In other words, what gave you the clue or evidence to go this route?

Thanks! Looking forward to hearing about the new direction.

Spencer Haws

Brad, in a recent post here: I shared how many of my top 10 best performing sites are ones that I have turned into large sites (a couple over 100 posts in size). So, I’ve started sites out small and then grown them into something more significant. So, this was the reason I chose to go this route. These top 10 performing sites continue to perform well, while some others have not. Read the post for more details.


hi spencer, will you build a authority site if you aren’t familiar with the niche just focus on keywords?

Spencer Haws

Midas – that’s a tough question. Its easier if you are familiar with the niche, but you can always learn.


Hi Spencer,

Thank you for this great article. I thought I would share my experience over the past 6 months, following the Penguin update.

I run a niche travel site. It a big site with original content, written by myself and my husband -we are THE experts in this particular niche. Our pages have at least 1000 words on them and lots of original photos. The site is several years old, and until Penguin, was getting around 700-1000 uniques per day.

Yes, we’d done some backlinking from Fiverr and what I now know was a dodgy SEO company. As this site was on SBI (Site Build It), we’d also followed their keyword optimisation strategy – which we now know was very poor.

So yes, we copped a double slap from Penguin. Our traffic went down to about 200 uniques per day.

I was devastated. I had poured thousands of hours of work into this site and we were making a good income from it. It was NOT a spam site at all.

I started to re-write content, removing the keyword over optimisation and move the site off SBI onto WP, but I’ve seen no great jump in numbers. We’re buried by Google for some of our very best pages, it seems, and we can’t remove backlinks for many of the Fiverr sites.

So, I decided that I would simply have to move the content to a new URL.

I’m in the middle of doing that now.

This week, I noticed something strange. Following an algorithm change last week, our traffic has now doubled!

We are starting to make sales again. I am quietly hopeful that with the content revamp and new URL (no awful hyphens this time!), we’re back on track.

Spencer Haws

Amanda, thanks for sharing! Its a great learning experience for us all. You obviously see why the site was penalized, even though you were still providing quality information. These days it takes careful considering not to have spammy links or over-optimization. Awesome to hear that the traffic is coming back! Best of luck…


spencer, I sent you an email with some queries regarding niche sites. Would you please take a minute of your time and get back to me?


Dirk Jansen

Looks like a plan, the only thing is that i had a big authority site in the car niche and that got hit to, so saying that big sites are the next big thing is a risk to…

I strongly feel that the update had nothing to do with EMD’s, but more to do with clearing the index for Adwords clicks… if you remove 50% of the EMD’s out the index and leave a info gap, the user will click the ads because they promise a answer….

People who belief that Google is there for the end user are naive imho… Google is only interested in their shareholders and will do anything to keep them happy… and that is by killing of other peoples businesses that depend on SE traffic.

I am really done with this game, you can go and build sites 100% according Google’s TOS and you still get hit… I am sick of it, every update people who play by their rules are getting smashed… i am so done with Google and building sites…

I wish you all the best in your quest for Google traffic, for me this part of marketing is over…

Spencer Haws

To clarify, I never said its all about big sites. Its about quality sites now. By no means does having a large site mean you won’t get penalized. Having a quality site that doesn’t have spammy links or is not stuffed with keywords will fair much better…


Hey Spence, how do we build a website that visitors will learn to trust? do you happen to use a fake or pen profile? you know those “Single mom of 2 and etc” kind of about me profiles that are not popping up..
my consciousness keeps me away from being a fake person behind my site and be genuine…
so i’ve been thinking going out more genuine and start building branding under my name… but when you have so many niches and you don’t fit in what do we do? what are your thoughts? Anyone?

Spencer Haws

Sometimes I use a pen name, but other times you don’t need to. Think corporate: no pen name needed. who is the author at or Its the corporation, or “we”. If you can build a site under your personal brand…that’s best though!


thanks Spencer! but those are really huge,well established brands and if you check out their posts each one of them has an author… 🙂 even livestrong has Armstrong behind its name… btw do you include a fake stock photo under your pen name?


Although I really hate Google’s double standards,penalizing you for what they recommended before,I think they are moving in the right direction.If you really think about it,Google is killing SEO and devaluing link building.They are refining their algorithms to look for many signals.In the end this will allow some of us to focus on building quality content.


Nice post again. I am focusing on 1 project online and I will ditch all my other ones. But for some reason I dont rank well. On my main keyword around 500+, well on most.

In the beginning I had a few days like 15-20 visitors a day. When I look at my keyword I see people ranking with no backlinks in the top 10.

I think it’s because of a bad link profile. But the links are good I focused on website with good pagerank at least 1+ and so. How can I fix this?

Spencer Haws

If you have over-optimized on-page, change that. Or if you have used to much keyword anchor text, change that.

Joe Can Write

I really like the idea of putting your all into one site and making something to be proud of.

All my sites got wiped out by the recent updates to my income is nearly zero.

I’m working on a new site but don’t expect it to make money any time soon.

In the mean time I’ve started offering content writing services to put some food on the table so to speak.

If anyone wants any excellent content at a fair price give me a holla!

Good luck with your projects Spencer. I look forward to reading some big income reports soon!


hey there joe
You have made me smile with tears in my eyes, that is what happens…. i beileve nobody should expect anything in return from google , traffic, money ! we all should focus on building quality usefull huge sites, with our own probducts and all traffic from other sources! how much time could it take to build one big quality site,,,, if u have the money just a month would be enough….if u can outsource forum commenting , video production , and etc..u might start making money within 2 monthes…anyway it shouldnt take u more than 6 monthes to make a living. the hardest part is getting targetted traffic without search engines. i dont think guest post thing will work, cause u r building a site not a blog but u have social media,ppc,forums
good luck!

Kris @ Detailed Success

Great post Spence!

The most important tip to take from this post is “build a list”.

Lets say you get a huge spike in traffic one day and earn $50. Great huh? Well, the next day without that traffic you will earn 50 cents again.

What if you are building a list on that website and 50 people subscribed to your newsletter? Those 50 people are worth a lot more than just $50. It is said that on average, per month every person on your list is worth $1.

As you know what niche they are interested in you can promote endless amounts of products to them.

Lists are where the money is at.

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