This has been an “interesting” year for niche sites to say the least. With my Google Adsense getting banned (and then opening a new one), the Penguin Update, the EMD Update, and more; my niche site business has seen its share of ups and downs. However, through it all, I'm still a firm believer in natural search engine traffic.
These changes have forced me to stop building 1 page micro niche sites and move up the value chain to larger and higher quality sites. Over the past couple of months, I've been focusing on 2 sites, as I mentioned I would briefly here. I wanted to provide an update on both of these sites so far.
What's Different About These Sites
Rather than building lots of “micro” sites, I'm focusing on larger niche sites (or authority sites if you must call it that). I'm also much more hands on with these sites. I've written some of the content for both sites, but I still hired a couple of authors to fill out the content based on my keyword research.
So far each site has about 20 quality articles.
What about domains you ask? Well, “site 1” is an exact match domain. And “site 2” is an PageRank 3 expired domain that I've turned into a niche site. This is a non-match domain name. Its a related phrase, but not a match to my targeted keyword.
I purchased about 50 or so expired domains a couple of months ago, and one of them just happened to be in a niche that I'm familiar with. So, it has lots of links that are related (but not specifically targeting) my chosen primary keyword. I wanted to see how using an authoritative domain right off the bat would affect rankings. So far, I'm seeing positive things as discussed below…
Both of these niche sites are targeting keywords that I'm familiar with. I'm “familiar” with them because I've had niche sites in the past targeting them specifically. These were small niche sites that at one point were ranking well for these keywords, but through either the Penguin update or other reasons are no longer ranking as well. I could try to recover those penalized sites, but for at least these 2 keywords, I'm trying new sites out.
I KNOW that “site 1” has the potential to be a $1,500+/mth site if I rank near the top of Google. I also know that “site 2” has the potential for $500+/mth for its primary keyword (much more with related keywords).
According to Long Tail Platinum (currently in beta), the keyword for site 1 has a keyword competitiveness of 38.
Site 2 has a keyword competitiveness of 24.
For a frame of reference, anything over 40 starts to get pretty difficult. Anything under 30 is usually fairly easy to rank for. So, it should come as no surprise that site 2 has started ranking well pretty early on. I'll discuss the results further below.
I have been doing link building for both sites, but with 2 distinctive strategies. For the first site, I've hired a company to do all the link building for me. For around $100 or so, I've paid for an initial round of link building with web 2.0 sites, high PR blog links, Facebook likes, and more. This is really an experiment to see if I can outsource the entire link building process without my involvement.
For the second site, it already had lots of links pointing to it because it was an expired domain. So, right away the site is a PR 3 and has relevant links. In addition, I plan to build all the additional links to this site myself using expired domains or other tactics. I've only built a couple of expired domain links, but I'm seeing good results.
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How Are They Ranking?
So far, I'm happy with the results! The first site is a fresh domain that I just started building links to (hired someone) a couple of weeks ago. So, its sitting around the 100th position in Google; but I expect it to make a jump up soon in the next few weeks when Google re-crawls the sites quality and fresh links.
The second site didn't take long to break into the top 50; I assume because of its existing PR and links. However, after placing a couple of my own expired domain links, the site is now ranking #12 in Google! Pretty good for a site less than 2 months old for a high paying keyword. However, this is also a less competitive keyword (as shown above), so I suspect it has jumped up so quickly due to both the low keyword difficulty and the existing PR and links.
I've been really slow about building links, and suspect that if I added just 2 or 3 PR links from my expired domain network, it could jump to the top 5.
However, my time has been really stretched with developing Long Tail Pro and the Platinum version; so I haven't been able to focus on these niche sites as much as I would like to. This is the primary reason I am hiring some interns right now. These interns will help me build out my expired domain network, add content to my existing niche sites, and overall help me be more effective.
Future of these Sites
If you are wondering how much they are earning, the answer is nothing. At this point, they are not monetized at all. I've decided to wait until they are ranking in the top 10 before I put any ads or other monetization tactics into play. I don't have any good reason for doing this, other than its just an experiment. I wanted to see if it would take longer or shorter to rank in Google based on the ads on my site. I haven't noticed any difference at this point.
The future of these sites (and others) is bright. Once they start ranking in the top 10, I plan on building out more content and going after more long tail phrases. At this point, they have a good base of content and are getting traffic, but the plan is to grow them into something much more significant.
So there you have it! This is the current state of my “new” niche sites. What about yours? If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear them below!