It’s time for an update on my niche site experiment as part of my super-duper, awesome, epic dual Case study. In case you didn’t read my first post, you can read it here.
I’m building both an authority and niche site from scratch, with the former using only white-hat methods, and the latter using more of the grey and black-hat variety.
I’m a newbie when it comes to internet marketing, and a stubborn one at that, so I want to prove to myself which methods work and which don’t. I’m all about trying these things myself and either succeeding or falling flat on my face for everyone to see.
Just promise not to laugh at me.
What Will I Be Reviewing in this Post
I spent most of this week working on the niche site and produced some good content myself, and outsourced a few articles as well using many of the techniques that Nate Tsang described at No Hat Digital.
My hope is that I’ll get this niche site generating some revenue within a couple of months. This will be key for me given that as I stated earlier, I have yet to make a cent online.
Making that first cent will be huge. I can’t stress that enough!
Pouring your life into all these websites without seeing any sort of return can be discouraging, but I’m sure that seeing that first cent will make it all worth it because it proves that the concept works.
Once the first cent is in the bank it all becomes about scaling from there and growing that 1 cent into something significant enough so that can sustain yourself. Slowly but surely.
I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration recently by following people like Dom Wells, Sharon Gourlay, Dave Schneider, Matt Allen, Rizvan Ullah, and Joseph Ho who may not be there 100% yet, but are consistently making good progress towards their goals. It shows that hard work and dedication does start paying off at some point.
Very inspiring to see!
In this post I’ll be elaborating on two particular parts of my niche site experiment, namely:
- How I selected the category in which I’ll be building my niche site
- How I came up with the keywords that I’ll be targeting
- Oh, and for the majority of you that simply clicked on this link to read about Kim Kardashian, I plan to talk about that too
Partnering Up With an Expert
I’m proud to say that I’ll be partnering up with someone that has a heck of a lot more experience than I do when it comes to making money online through affiliate marketing. I won’t be announcing his name for privacy purposes for the time being, but in my opinion it’s just so crucial to be able to bounce your ideas off of someone when you get stuck.
The arrangement that we struck was that we’ll have a profit sharing arrangement and he’ll be guiding me through the process somewhat – especially when I get stuck.
I figured rather than trying to reinvent the wheel myself, I’d be much better off tapping into the knowledge of someone that’s already been there before.
The great news is that he also has access to a vast amount of resources that will help my site rank – resources that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Hopefully this will mean the difference between success and failure for me and my site.
Having a successful site will be such a motivation booster!
How Will I Be Monetizing?
Of course, just because I partnered up with someone that has expertise in the sector, doesn’t mean that I don’t need to have a concrete plan in place.
Quite the contrary actually. If I don’t, he might decide to ditch me as fast as Kim Kardashian dropped Kris Humphries – which wouldn’t be a good thing!
(That’s it as far as Kim Kardashian is concerned, so for those that simply came for that, you’re free to leave now)
So, the first step in my plan was deciding on which niche I wanted to target for my black-hat site was a monetization strategy.
This was my biggest downfall in the various websites that I had created in the past that flopped.
I would happily go on making websites, without really having thought about how to monetize. That can end up meaning that you spend a heck of a lot of time on a project that you have no idea will ever make money.
To avoid falling into this trap, the first thing was to think of a monetization strategy. The one that seemed most straightforward to me was using the Amazon affiliate program. This is what most case studies are based around, so I figured that would probably be the best place for me to start as it will allow me to follow along most closely.
How I Picked the Product Category and Niche
Now that I decided on which channel I was going to use for my affiliate commission, I had to decide on a product or product category which I was going to promote.
Since I’m following a similar model to what Spencer and Perrin did for their niche site, as described on Niche Pursuits, I decided to build a website that will be monetized through Amazon Affiliate commissions as well. That doesn’t mean there isn’t scope to expand further once I gain traction of course.
The great thing about the Amazon Affiliate program is that the traffic that you send to Amazon doesn’t necessarily have to buy the item that you referred them to. In fact, anything they buy from Amazon within 24 hours of you having referred them, you will get commission for! Since there is an abundance of goods on Amazon in every shape and form, this significantly increases the odds of you getting some commission.
To select the product that I wanted to market through Amazon’s Affiliate program I started by looking on…. You guessed it, Amazon. I won’t be giving away my category, but I’ll take you through my though-process.
Step #1 – How I Used Amazon’s Best Seller Tool to Find the Top 100 in Each Category
For those that don’t know, Amazon allows you to drill down into each of its categories and look at the top 100 products that are sold.
You can access Amazon’s Best Seller list where you can look at the top 100 products by going to http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers/zgbs.
These are products that are all bound to have a good amount of sales volume associated with it as it is, which means that if you build a site around those product types and your able to attract traffic, your conversions are likely to be quite good.
This is why it’s a great starting point for your research when trying to figure out in what niche you would like to build your site.
After a quick look on Amazon’s Best Seller list and drilling down into Kitchen & Dining, and then into Small Appliances, I see two items that immediately catch my eye.
The best selling item is what looks to be a pressure cooker, which is priced at over $130, and the third on the list is a rice cooker, which is priced at close to $27.
Although both could potentially be good options, since I’m greedy I want to investigate the pressure cooker a bit further. I’ll be getting more commission for every sale of the pressure cooker than the rice cooker, simply because it’s more expensive.
A quick look at the best sellers rank of this product when drilling into the listing also shows that this one is ranked #7 in the entire Kitchen & Dining category of Amazon. I would be aiming for anything below 500 when selecting your niche, to ensure that there is enough volume to make it worthwhile.
That means that a ton of these are sold on a daily basis, making it worth you while to build a site around.
As a general rule of thumb, below are the criteria that I have used when I selected the category for my niche site on Amazon.
- Product that has a price of at least $60/unit so that the commission you get per sale is actually somewhat substantial
- The product is something that people wouldn’t mind purchasing online
- The product is in the top 500 of the category
Step #2 – How I Turned My Product Category Into My Money Making Keywords
So now that you have a potential candidate, it’s time to turn that product category into keywords and determine whether it is a category that is worth going after.
In this step I’m looking for the keywords for the money page(s). These are the ones that will be bringing home the bacon!
What I like to do at this stage is brainstorm what people may be entering into Google when they are looking to buy this particular item. These are called buying keywords – in other words, the intent of the person typing these keywords is to buy that particular product.
I can’t reiterate how important it is to select buying keywords. If there’s anything that I’ve learned so far it’s that ranking for a generic search term might drive traffic to your site, but it won’t result conversions.
There are literally a thousand variations of these types of keywords and I won’t cover them all, but Stuart Walker at Niche Hacks has put together a comprehensive list of many of these that are a great starting point.
From having done a bit of research myself, I would say the two keyword variations that generally have the most volume are “best [product name]” or “[product name] reviews“. These can also be the most competitive, so make sure you have a look at other variations as well.
Let’s have a look at “best pressure cooker” and “pressure cooker reviews” in the Google Keyword Planner for the example I came up with above.
Those volumes look pretty good! I tried to aim for anything that had at least 5,000 exact searches. This is enough to make it worthwhile from my point of view.
While the search term “pressure cooker reviews” may not meet this benchmark, I see a great opportunity to build a killer page that may be able to rank for both of these keywords at the same time. This is what I plan to do with my Niche site with the search volumes being even higher as you can see below.
Instead of going after one, I’ll be building a page that is optimized for a keyword like “best pressure cooker reviews” so that I can target both variations of the keyword and hopefully scoop up all of the traffic.
At the very beginning, I will specifically target a lower volume and lower competition keyword in mind for a similar product that I’ll be reviewing on the same site that should be easier to rank for. I will target this keyword first since hopefully it will give me some motivation to push on once I start seeing some cash rolling in.
The number for exact searches of this keyword is around 1,000 searches per month.
Step #3 – How I Evaluated My Keyword Competitiveness
Once I had my main buying keywords that I wanted to build the site around, it was time to evaluate the competitiveness of these keywords.
In other words, am I going to be able to rank in Google for these keywords and drive lots and lots of organic traffic that converts?
The step I took to get indication is by doing a simple search in Google for your keywords, in this case “best pressure cooker”.
Just quickly looking at the top 5, I see a total of three niche sites which are of similar nature to the site that I’m hoping to build.
This is a great sign, and let me tell you why.
Although a lot of people get scared and feel that this is extra competition, what this actually shows us that Google is willing to rank those type of sites. Since I’m building a similar type of website, I at least know that it’s physically possible for that to rank.
There are many niches where you only see the large E-Commerce websites ranking. This is a bad sign, and my recommendation is to not touch those with a 10 foot pole. You’ll likely end up spending a lot of time building up a website, only for you to figure out that you won’t be able to rank it later on.
What a waste that would be!
Now that you have an idea of your competition, it’s time to see whether you’ll be able to beat these guys. That’s ultimately what you want – to rank above these websites when people type in your search term.
Keyword research tools are great and make this process is a heck of a lot simpler.
Let me show you how I used Market Samurai to analyse the competitiveness of the keyword “best pressure cooker” as an example.
It’s particularly the 2nd and 4th result that get me excited when looking at the “SEO Competition” under Market Samurai. Yes, they have a ton of links pointing at their pages, but it’s only coming from 35 and 56 different domains respectively. This is what I tend to give much more weight than just the number of links
I’m not saying this one is exceptionally easy, but it should be beatable with some strong PBN links pointing to the relevant pages if I were to build a site in this niche. Like I explained in my earlier post, I’ll have a budget lined up for that.
The particular niche that I have picked out is a little more difficult for the main keyword, so this may take a while to rank. However, since I also picked an easier keyword that I intend to rank initially, I should be seeing some traction earlier on as well that will give me the motivation to push on. The stats for the lower competition keyword are below.
As you can see, this should be relatively easy to rank for in the short term. There are a total of 4 niche sites in the top 10 of Google, with the top 2 both being niche sites.
I feel fairly confident that I’ll be able to outrank them due to the fact that the number of domains linking to them is low. Another positive factor is that the domain ages of these sites are predominantly less than 1 year old.
Step #4 – How I Found More Keywords to Build My Content Around
Now that we have our money keywords picked out, it’s time to start thinking of some content ideas that you can use to bulk up the site.
Ideally these would be keywords that help your site gain overall authority with Google, but also drive traffic that have an interest in what your main keyword is about. You may be able to drive them to your money page using internal linking, thereby driving further commissions as you send those visitors to Amazon.
I’m going to tell you about the two methods that I used to come up with some great keywords. A lot of people would simply use the Google Keyword Planner for this, but that’s precisely the problem – everyone is doing it! That means that the chance of you finding a keyword that no one else has looked for yet is very slim. That’s why I use a couple of different approaches.
The first is through a free online tool that is very aptly named “Keyword Tool”. You can find it at KeywordTool.io, and it essentially scrapes all the ideas that you would get from Google Suggest.
For example, when you put in a search query into Google for “pressure cooker”, Google will automatically come up with a number of suggestions related to that keyword when you scroll all the way to the bottom of the search page. It may look something like this:
This can be a gold mine for content ideas for your niche site. The best part is that these are queries that actual users are already searching for! Unfortunately, Google only spits out 8 results that you can use – and that’s where the Keyword Tool comes in.
When you enter the same keyword (“pressure cooker”) into the Keyword Tool, on the other hand, it comes up with a whopping 612 suggestions.
You can do this for all the variations of your keyword too, or anything that has to do with pressure cooking in fact! Just pop them into the Keyword Tool and you’ll get a ton more keywords ideas.
Once you have the list generated by the Keyword Tool, simply press “Copy All” and run it through the Google Keyword Planner, and you’ll have yourself a pretty nice list of keywords and search volumes that you can use to build the rest of your sites content around.
Bear in mind that you can only run 800 keywords at a time through the Google Keyword Planner, so if you have more than that you’ll have to break it up into chunks of 800. It goes without saying that you’ll want to do the same type of competitor analysis on these keywords as before, but ideally you’ll be targeting keywords that very easy to rank for. The goal here is just to give some critical mass to your site so that it can gain some authority in Google’s eyes.
The second method, which is also my favorite, unfortunately requires a paid subscription of SemRush. Yes, you could do it with the free version, but you just wouldn’t get the same amount of keywords.
This method is also a bit sneaky, but it allows you to generate a ton of keywords that you’re competitors are already ranking for that you would never have been able to think of yourself.
Back to the pressure cooker example, it looks like PressureCookerGurus.com would be our main competition. Let’s pop that bad boy into SemRush and see what types of keywords they are ranking for and how much traffic each generate.
Instant pot?! Yes, I’d love some thank you very much. Oh.. but this probably isn’t the pot that I’m thinking about…
As you can see, my kitchen knowledge is very basic, but a quick search revealed that this is indeed a brand of a certain type of pressure cooker. I would have never known this, and I certainly wouldn’t have come up with it in my brainstorming session (other than possibly using some of the other variety). In other words, I would have simply missed out on this traffic.
That’s why, if you’re serious about building sites, I think it’s a worthwhile advantage that can save you a lot of headache in the long-term over missed keyword opportunities.
That’s It For Today Folks…
That’s it for today folks. I hope you’re enjoying following along with my journey as I’m building out both my Niche and Authority sites.
In the next post on my Niche Site I’ll be covering my plan of attack in terms of how I’ll be structuring the site and what my linking strategy will be like to get it ranking. I’ve got a couple of ideas on how best to get this done, which I’ll reveal to you guys in depth in my next post.
Also make sure you stay tuned for my next update on my Authority Site. Obviously that is a much longer-term play, and it is steadily going forwards in the background.
I have currently hired someone on Elance who has been spending the last couple of weeks putting together an Epic piece of content with which I can start conducting some outreach once it’s done. I’ll do a detailed update on that once those results are in.