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General Overview of the Niche Websites Strategy

General Overview of the Niche Websites Strategy

As I recently discussed, building niche websites is an excellent strategy for 3 main reasons.  Niche sites are in a growing market, they are scalable, and they can generate passive income.  But what I didn't discuss is exactly what a niche website is, and what the strategy is for building one.  Some of the topics I would like to cover here are the overall strategy, niche sites vs. general websites, and an action plan.

Because there really is so much detail that I COULD include in this post, I will refer you to the Niche Websites Hub to reference other posts that will cover more details that this one cannot for lack of space.  I am trying to cover as much detail as possible over the next few months on how to build successful niche websites – so I appreciate your patience!

The Overall Strategy

The basic idea behind building a niche website is to target 1 specific keyword and to rank well in Google and other search engines for that keyword so that you can get as much free traffic as possible.  Obviously with time you will rank for other keywords and can target other keyword related to your site, but the key strategy is to be laser focused on one keyword.  With this keyword, you will base your domain name (preferably and exact match domain), content, and link building.

My personal strategy is to enter a market where I feel like I can rank in the top 10 of Google (top 5 preferred) very quickly (within a couple of months).  Therefore, I tend to target keywords that typically get lower search volume but also have very low competition.  Keywords that receive small amounts of searches each month are called “Long Tail Keywords”.  The number of words in a phrase has NOTHING to do with whether or not a keyword is considered a “long tail” keyword – only the number of searches matter (it has to do with the “tail” of a normal bell curve – those items on the fringes).  My point here isn't to teach you what a long tail keyword is – for that you can read Chris Anderson's monumental article on the subject where he coined the phrase in 2004.  I explain more about long tail keywords and give specific examples in my free Long Tail handbook on building niche websites right here.

So, in a nutshell, the strategy is to target low competition keywords that you can get free traffic from relatively quickly.  Then you simply replicate the process by building new websites.  Obviously exactly how this is implemented can vary depending on the keyword and circumstances; however, below I have listed a quick bullet point list of what goes into building a niche website.

Quick List for Building Niche Websites

  • Find a keyword that receives at least 1,000 exact match searches. Honestly, I try to only focus on keywords that get 5k or more exact match searches now.  Remember this is a MINIMUM – its BETTER to target a keyword that gets 20k or more as long as the competition is still low.  If you can find a keyword that gets 100k Exact match searches per month and still has very low competition then GO FOR IT!  However, the reality is that you will find many more keywords with low competition in the lower search volume range.  You won't make very much money on a keyword that only get 1,000 searches every month – so keep that in mind.
  • Find a keyword that has an average CPC of $1 or more. This is generally the rule if you plan on monetizing your site with Google Adsense.  If you are using other methods, the CPC might not be as relevant.  You need to find out how you are going to make money with your site and make sure your chosen keywords will allow you to meet those goals.
  • Check the competition by looking at the top 10 results in Google. I will cover how to judge the competition in detail in a future post, but here are a few things you need to look at in the results.  Is the keyword in the Title of the Pages?  Are the results mainly root domains or subpages?  Look for low Pageranks, zero links to the results pages if possible (not the root domain), site age, .edu and .gov links, and a few other items can be looked at as well.
  • Buy an Exact Match Domain if possible.
  • Install WordPress. I use WordPress on all my sites – however, using regular html or other site builders is just fine too.
  • Install plugins – I will give a detailed list and discussion of plugins in the future.
  • Add content to your site. I like to start with between 5 and 10 articles.  When the site starts to make money or shows promise of growth, I will add more content.  If the site is a dud, I don't add more content.  Usually only 1 article should have your main keyword in the title.  The other articles will be on related terms – don't overuse your keyword on your site.  A 1 to 2% keyword density is sufficient on your 1 main article.  I might not even use the keyword in the other articles on my site.
  • Insert adsense or other monetization methods. I do this right away.
  • Build links. I usually wait a week or two before I build any links to my site.  Then I will do a combination of article marketing and other link building.  Most of my niche sites have less than 100 links showing in Yahoo site explorer.  So, don't go overboard.  Start with 50 to 100 links and then wait a few weeks.  Build more if needed.  Use your chosen keyword as anchor text for added relevance.
  • Add More Content if needed. If your website is ranking well and you are making good money, add more articles.
  • Optimize your site for CTR and overall earnings.
  • That's about it – move onto the next site!

Niche Websites vs. General Websites

A niche website will almost always if done properly outrank a general website like an article directory.  An article directory usually doesn't have any focus and just publishes lots of articles on whatever.  For this reason their domain name is not optimized for your keyword, the article usually doesn't have many links built to it, and the rest of the site is unrelated to the topic.  So an entire website that has intense focus on a particular keyword or topic should always outrank a website that just has a random article on the topic.

Obviously this isn't always the case depending on a number of factors; however, in general a niche website is MUCH easier to rank for a keyword than a general website with no focus is to rank.  The searcher also is usually more satisfied because they get lots of articles that discuss their query in detail rather than just one article that they get with article directories.  This is another reason why niche sites are so powerful.

Conclusion and Your Comments

Overall, I have experienced great success with building niche websites, which is why I am such an advocate of this strategy.  By following the bullet points listed above and truly understanding the “long tail” strategy you will have everything you need to start building a business.  Obviously there is much more that I will cover and hope to do so with great detail.

Overall, let me know your thoughts below!  What other questions do you have?  What insights can your provide from your own experience – so we can all learn?!?


31 Comments for this Post

  1. Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    […] General Overview of the Niche Website Strategy (Posted May 25th, 2011) […]

  2. Trent Dyrsmid

    Trent Dyrsmid

    Hey Spencer,

    This is a really terrific post; particularly where you’ve taken the time to point out your rules of thumb for choosing keywords. Back when I started building my first few niches sites, I had very little in the way of rules of thumb, and as such, I mad plenty of mistakes.

    One of the things that I like to do now is to do my first search with “phrase” match type and a check in “only show words closely related to my keyword”. I then sort by competition and look for keywords with a high search volume. I then take that new word and do another search, this time with the “exact” match type and “only show words closely related to my keyword” unchecked. I still sort by competition. This then gives me some really good nuggets to have a look at the strength of competition.

    Keep up the great work. I love your blog!

    • Spencer


      Trent – I think thats a great way to brainstorm for keywords. I don’t use the phrase match like you do, but I can certainly see value in what you are doing. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Travis



    Great post. Can you comment on the time you spend on each of the steps? I have found that it is tough to find keywords and very very time intensive to build backlinks. I’m looking forward to a more detailed post on both of these topics. I’m sure you’ll have more great information for us.


    • Spencer


      Travis – Keyword research can take a long time. Sometimes it can take several hours of dedicated research to find one good keyword. It really depends, but sometimes it might take a couple of hours a day for an entire week to find a few good keywords. This is the most important step though, so its worth it.

      As far as linkbuilding, yes it can be very time consuming if you do it yourself. I outsource all of my linkbuilding as it takes to long for me to do myself. I will definitely be posting more details on both of these topics.

  4. Karsten


    Hi Spencer…

    Great and informative article – I’m looking forward to your next articles in “the Hub”…

    I have a question about how to… “Find a keyword that has an average CPC of $1 or more”… Where do you find that information – is it a part of Google Webmaster Tools or where do you get the information from?


    • Spencer


      The average CPC can be found on the Google adwords keyword tool. This is a free tool provided by google. Just make sure you are logged into your adwords account to get the CPC. If you don’t have an adwords account; all you need is a username and password to get setup in about 30 seconds.

  5. Ardegas


    I wish I had knew of this strategy some years ago. The part I find intriguing is the rule of the CPC of $1 or more. I’m thinking more in the line of a formula using an estimated CRT like:

    Estimated income= estimated CTR * estimated traffic * CPC * fraction of the CPC.

    A typical CTR could be of 1%. We don’t get from Adsense the whole CPC, so I would estimate like a 70% of that CPC.

    So I would take an estimated income of say $50 a month as a minimum.

    • Spencer


      Ardegas – You are starting to think like a businessman! Yes, it makes sense to think of it in a formula. Although I think your CTR is extremely low. I would estimate closer to 5 to 10%. Also, its difficult to truly predict the CPC, but 70% is a good start. For some keywords it will be more, for others it will be closer to 50%. So, its really impossible to know for sure how much your site will make until its up and running unfortunately. But your formula can give a good estimate.

  6. David@natural heartburn cures

    David@natural heartburn cures

    what keyword tool do you use that give the reliable information? Do you use market samurai?

    • Spencer


      The source of most keyword tools including market samurai is the Google Adwords keyword tool. So anyone can use the google adwords keyword tool for free (which I do). In addition, I use my own software at http://www.longtailpro.com for keyword research. A new version will be released soon to the public, but I am using it currently and love it!

  7. Sereyboth


    Nice information here, I am doing it too!
    Most of my new niche website seems to be well, just wait to do backlink !

    However, after sending an Email to your several days ago, I don’t receive your reply to me yet 🙂

    • Spencer


      I must have missed your email and no longer see it in my inbox…sorry! Go ahead and resend your email and I will respond…thanks!

      • Sereyboth


        Ok Thank Spencer, I already resend to you. Because the text is long so I can not send via your contatc form and I try to send to your Email found in your Newsletter.

        Hope to hear you reply soon 🙂

  8. PAULA


    But what about Market Samurai’s cool feature of finding blogs to link to that you can get pingbacks from?

    I’ve read that links to other sites that will automatically ping you back are more valuable than a new site getting all these one-way links. What do you think?

    I loved the free trial of Market Samurai. I’ll probably buy it for that feature alone.

    • Spencer


      I don’t think an automatic ping is more valuable than a regular link. The power of the link lies in the overall authority (often PageRank is a good judge) of the page. So, auto pingbacks still count as a link, they are not any more powerful than any other kind of link.

  9. PAULA


    Your comment box doesn’t scroll when one leaves longer comments, by the way.

    Thanks for all your great posts!

  10. giantonis


    Hello Spenser..good information you have here ..but i wonder…you suggest to find a keyword that has an average CPC of $1 or more.But may this number be misleading because that figure is actually the amount advertisers pay to place an ad on Google’s search engine results pages ? And this reported CPC is completely unrelated to the amount you earn for ads on your site ?? Thanks!!


    • Spencer


      Of course no one should expect to actually get paid $1 per click for a keyword that shows $1 CPC in the adwords tool. Everyone should be well aware of this, but perhaps its worth a blog post. The point is simply to target higher paying keywords. Generally speaking, you will make more money from a keyword that shows $1 CPC in Google than a keyword that shows $0.10 for example. The point is just to filter out lower paying keywords. You are right that this CPC is different than what you will make on your site.

  11. Martijn


    “its BETTER to target a keyword that gets 20k or more as long as the competition is still low.”

    Do you mean the column “competition” in Google Adwords ? Or do you rate the competition by watching the first page of results in Google ?

    Isn’t it contrary to have a low competition but still a $1 click ? You would expect that if there is no / less competition the CPC is not high.

    On the other hand if there a lot of advertisers for the same keyword they are responsable for a higher CPC.

    Or do I a miss something ?


    • Spencer


      You want low competition in the top 10 results in Google. That is what I meant. The competition shown in the Google Adwords tool simply is referring to how many advertisers there are for that keyword – you want lots of advertisers if possible. Hope that clarifys.

  12. Hetal Shah

    Hetal Shah


    It was so informative post. I was having many questions about making niche site before reading your post, like What platform you are using? How much content is required initially etc..

    Now many queries of mine are solved! Thanks to you.. :-)) Looking forward to further posts of your which r still unanswered by you.

    I am following each post on nichewebsitehub and already started with 1niche sites.


  13. Chris Guthrie

    Chris Guthrie


    Question for you.

    Let’s say I have found a great exact match domain name, and I am researching my competition as you have outlined, when I typed the EMD KW into Google, do I surround it with quotes or leave it as a broad search?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Spencer


      Leave it as a broad search (without quotes) to check the top 10 competition.

  14. 4 Niche Website Strategies Reviewed | Niche Pursuits

    4 Niche Website Strategies Reviewed | Niche Pursuits

    […] have discussed at least a couple of different strategies on this blog, but I wanted to be a little more explicit in the details.  For some of you that are […]

  15. Michael


    Thanks again for the fantastic content Spencer.

    I’ve basically been doing this model but completely misunderstood long tail keywords until now. Thanks for explaining it. This will definitely help me build future niche sites.

  16. Marko


    Hey there everyone. I heard about this site from Pat Flynn, and I consider that high praise. So….hello!

    I started a niche site about 2 months ago. I bought the matt laclear package you recommended just recently – it was serviced about 2 days ago, and I have a lot of links now, indexed. But I’m not seeing stellar movement for the site I made. How long can it take? The competition doesn’t look horribly fierce to me, but before I bought the package, the best the site was doing was 31 in google. Its leaping around some, at 39 last I checked. How long does it usually take for the laclear package to work its magic for you?

    I saw my first ad sense click a few days ago, and have only had ads up for a week or two, and havent got any more clicks yet. I imagine more will come on page 1.

    Whats your guys experience with timelines? I hear it could take anywhere from a few days to 6 months. I am wary about starting more sites until the first site starts rolling a bit of money in.

  17. George


    I just heard your podcast with Trent and had a question about MAN and UAW. Do you just do 1 article submission for Man and 1 article submission for UAW and then wait and do it again a few weeks later if needed? Also, do you write a new article and spin it or do you just spin one of the existing articles on your niche site?

  18. Girish Anand

    Girish Anand

    really great post on how to set niche sites with respective action plan.
    But my question to you is lets say if we able to find some low competition keyword and with good cpc but there is no advertiser in google for that particular keyword then should we go for that keyword or need to find another one?

    • Spencer


      If you look at the “advertiser competition” with the google adwords keyword tool, this will tell you if there are very many advertisers. If there are no advertisers in Google, it may not be a good keyword. However, check other websites that are displaying adsense to make sure.

  19. grace



    I love the article I learned so much. Thank you so much. I have read lots of other peoples BLOGs regarding niche sites & they wont give you what you wanna know it seems like they just want all the secrets for them…

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