Niche sites are very specific websites. They go into detail about one topic and one topic only. It used to be possible to make tons of money from them, because with such a specialised, highly-targeted site you'd easily get to the top of Google when people looked for info about that niche.
A micro-niche site is even more specific. It might be so focused that it's merely a single page.
These days, Google gives more weight to branding and social signals (Facebook likes etc) - things you can't really get from a niche site.
Many people have proclaimed that the age of the niche site is over.
But is it? Let's do an experiment and find out.
May 2016 - The Furtive Man in the Shady Pub
Long story short, I met a dodgy guy selling low competition keywords that he'd found in the back of a van. He said I'd get to the top of Google quickly and easily, and the keywords were connected to things people want to buy from Amazon, so I could make easy money linking to those products. He told me not to expect huge profits, but a small steady flow of cash. (He used the word 'moolah' instead of cash. Somehow it made me trust him more.)
I'd just listened to a podcast about how those viagra spam emailers actually send you real viagra if you buy from them. I'd always assumed they took your money and ran - but no. It's a 'real' business - just one that has unethical marketing.
Just lolled to myself at the tautology of 'unethical marketing'.
Right, so I bought a keyword from the guy. He made me laugh and seemed trustworthy enough.
(I won't share the keyword for now. I might, once I've got my investment back. That's right, dear reader, I trust YOU less than I trust that dude. Chew on THAT for a minute.)
It had 1,300 hits per month and competition metrics under 20. I looked at the top 10 results in Google and they were weak. No links, not much text on any page.
I decided I'd buy an exact match domain and write a single piece of text at least 1,000 words long.
Why obsess over word count? Simply because long texts seem to do better in Google.
Exact match domain. What's one of those?
So imagine you buy a keyword from a furtive man. The keyword is 'best high heels for dwarves'. In the olden days you'd buy the domain 'besthighheelsfordwarves.com' - that's an exact match domain.
Google would put you high on the rankings based on that alone.
Costs of the Project
I paid 99 dollars for the keyword.
Running it through Long Tail Pro and finding related keywords was free for me because I already have LTP. No extra costs there, then, but I did find another similar keyword with even more hits per month and only slightly higher competition.
So I bought TWO exact match domains and plan to make TWO sites. I've already written the content for one, and will copy everything over to the other one and rewrite it sentence by sentence. That's because Google will penalise you if you copy too much text from another site.
Writing all the text myself saves money, but I'm mostly doing it because it's too hard to explain to someone what I want them to do. Simple writing tasks can be outsourced but some things you just have to do yourself if you want it done right.
As for web hosting, I had 2 spaces free on a package of 5 Wordpress installs I bought a while back. There's 2.5 years left before I have to pay anything. And I've got themes coming out of my hiney.
So it's just 99 dollars plus about 28 for the domains.
As I said, I wanted to get 1,000 words on the page as soon as possible. Some of that could be reviews of the Amazon products I wanted to link to.
I did some research into the niche and came up with some questions I could answer. I probably spent 20 minutes just getting a feel for what people are looking for when they type that keyword into Google. My goal was to answer every question possible. That would be a section - questions and answers.
Because I'm an absolute maniac, once I started I couldn't just 'knock out a thousand words and leave it at that'. It became a personal challenge to frikkin answer EVERY question people have, sort the Amazon products into 'good/better/best', and I went into crazy detail showing ways people around the world had solved the problem the keyword was about.
In the end I had close to 2,000 words - far, far and away the most comprehensive source of information about that topic. At least, until I set up the second site, which has a slightly broader search intent which will allow me to include more product reviews.
One of the two sites is basically finished. I haven't actually added the Amazon links yet. I'll do that soon. There's no hurry because Google barely knows the site exists and won't send anybody there yet. What I want is to climb the Google rankings until I'm in the top 5. At that point I should start to make sales.
Yes, sales! When someone types that keyword and comes to my site, they are thinking of buying a specific product. My site directs them towards specific products on Amazon. If they buy, I'll get something like 4% of the price.
No, 4% is shit.
Oh. Well, it adds up. And I only have to do the work once and it's there forever. Also, anyone who clicks the link and buys anything from Amazon within a certain time limit (24 hours at the moment) - including dwarf heels, I'll get some money for that, too.
That's right. So I'll be back to update you guys with
- my ranking on Google
- my traffic numbers
- how much moolah I earned
Jan 2017 - Microniche Sites Don't Work
Or at least these ones don't. They got pretty much zero traction. No rankings, no traffic.
That fits a new concept I've been reading about - topical authority. Google likes to see multiple pages on the same topic. So I've further refined this test.
Site A I'm leaving alone - just a single page.
Site B is almost identical - same theme and almost the same content (rewritten by hand). But now I've added five supporting articles. Let's see if Google notices!
May 2017 - I Merged These Suckas Into A Real Niche Site
As should be clear by now, nothing ever happened with these sites. I'd call the whole thing a waste of time or money but somehow this became the most popular article on this site.
So if you're still reading this far, don't give up on the idea of making income via niche websites. I'm doing quite well. They just need to have more than one page!
October 2017 - Thoughts
This article is one of the more popular ones on this blog and I thought I'd update it with what I know about SEO and niche sites today.
Basically, a one-page website has very little chance to rank, and a micro-niche site will struggle to get anywhere except in exceptional cases.
But wait! I made 2 sites about a year ago. One is very broad and I'm really trying to cover 30 money keywords and support each of them with lots of articles. That site has kind of been a disaster (except that I do believe it will pay off in the long term).
The other site is just focused on ONE topic. I've got about 20 articles on the site, which is pretty much everything I could find to write about. That's doing quite well, making 200 dollars a month consistently with lots of growth potential.
So niche sites DO work, and they work great, because you're focused on one thing and Google likes that.