Many people see niche sites as a complete business model. I don’t.
Niche sites are a stepping stone – whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned veteran.
They are a stepping stone for beginners trying to get a feel for online business and trying to make their first dollars. They teach you the very basics of ops (outsourcing), marketing (analytics and SEO) and tech (hosting, html/css/php/wordpress). But most importantly they give you the confidence to go to the next level.
They are a stepping stone for the intermediate guys that are interested in learning how to scale. Managing workflow of several VAs levels you up in ops and creating the systems to maintain it certainly levels you up in tech.
Finally, they are also a stepping stone for advanced entrepreneurs who want to test out good markets to build businesses in. For years, SEO experts have been using black hat techniques to throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. Niche sites are similar. I would like to use them to establish markets with potentially high visitor values and low competition – create a SaaS, lead gen business or info product that can monetize their traffic well, and throw the niche site traffic at it to see how it performs. If the visitor values are strong enough to support paid traffic, we have a real online business, and the SEO traffic is gravy.
I have identified a couple of sites with high traffic and low Adsense RPMs, and have researched a couple business models that I think could work. I will be case studying these with Greg and Scott D in the coming weeks. I think this is the natural evolution of niche sites, and if we are successful it would completely transform the concept of site flipping. What do you guys think? What would like to see in the case study? Experience Instagram Stories like never before with StoriesIG site . Explore a unique and comprehensive platform for story browsing.
34 thoughts on “The Future of Niche Sites”
Look forward to seeing your analysis. I’m right at the threshold of breaking out of the CPC/CPM earning comfort zone, and want to transition to a more stable products/service business. Personally I don’t like the idea of ever selling sites – it goes against the grain, I like to build and grow rather than chop things up and sell to the highest bidder. To get to a point financially where you can afford to kind of play keeps with your sites is to me the holy grail, and I’m working hard to get my head around that problem. Will be helpful to see how you tackle it.
I agree keeping sites makes sense, or at least keeping the majority of your inventory. I’d sell the sites that I’d have trouble building a business to monetize, or sell if I had a better opportunity and needed the liquid.
Luke Mitchley says:
Nice commentary, but what does this have to do with the future of niche sites?
Knowing your chosen business model first would help in deciding what I’d like to see in said case study.
Did you have a bunch of your portfolio hit with this latest Panda 4.0 update — is that why you posted this? Just curious to know how your portfolio is holding up. Also, have you had any of your private network deindexed since when you had those 12 domains deindexed?
Also, what do you think we should do to protect our sites against the upcoming Penguin update.
Nope, wasn’t touched at all and the portfolio is still going strong. I’ve had sites occasionally de-indexed here and there, maybe a site a month or so (though this is out of 500+ sites).
Protect yourselves by link building with unique anchors and writing high quality unique content
Maxime Sincerny says:
Looks great looking forward for it.
Anything you guys do is golden. I would love to see the case study. I would particularly like to see some focus on ad layouts and how the site navigates.
Tung Tran says:
What’s your definition of niche sites?
A business model to me is something that is 1) repeatable and 2) make money
So a niche website with lots of traffic is not a business model, but a niche site with lots of traffic which can be converted into money through advertising/affiliate/producs and services is a business model.
It’s how every “niche” website works including NohatSEO, Nichepursuits, Nerdfitness, etc
PS: I’d love to see the case studies too
I agree but would add that it’s only a business model if the traffic is safe and repeatable. SEO is not – it’s gravy.
Absolutely – it would be great to see your take on niche sites post Panda and Penguin :-)
It would be great to see case study posts Hayden :)One thing I would like to see is, how niche sites can avoid Google penalties? It seems like niche sites are always the victims of updates. This makes niche site business riskier. So anything to defend penalties would definitely be interesting to follow :)
Scott Davis says:
The is a good start: http://www.nohatseo.com/blog/the-complete-guide-to-google-on-page-optimization-in-2014/
The real purpose behind this post was to showcase that Google is not dependable long-term. Niche site successes are an opportunity to test a business idea with free traffic.
I think a case study would be awesome! Will you be showing us how you chose the niche, the seo and the product development process?
We will be working off of existing niche sites we have ranked (otherwise this case study would take 6 months). But I will be discussing various business models and how to identify which apply to what keywords.
Steve Wyman says:
Of course this is a very sensible strategy. Although arguably you could skip the whole learning curve of niche sites and go straight to learning adsense and facebook advertising.
However i Do agree that building say an amazon niche site to then grow into a drop shipping or product company make a lots of sense. Assumptions and traffic conversions can at least be tested fully.
Case studies on adsense and amazon have really been done pretty well already. Although im sure your team could add something.
What would be much more interesting is if you could do something with the objective of a Saas or lead gen business. With the tester site being via adsense, clickbank or amazon etc as applicable.
Yup we are looking at exactly those 2 models, Steve. Starting with a niche site that is currently just earning on advertising (adsense + private).
Steve Wyman says:
great :-) look forward to watching the progress
Doug Stewart says:
I personally agree that the niche site business is a stepping stone for the young IM’s of this world (which I am). There would be many different ways to use the revenue generated from niche sites as seed funds to start up other projects.
I still think the mobile marketing industry (paid traffic) is very exciting and fairly unknown. Though has a steep learning curve and you need to be ready to lose some cash to learn the business.
I would like to see a case study of taking a niche site that’s monetized buy Adsense or Amazon and building real business assets like opt in lists, info products and even physical product / dropshipping.
I think the ideal scenario for an Amazon niche site, would be to build a large opt in list with natural and paid traffic. Then see if you can generate the same amount of income just from the large opt in list.
The core foundation of the niche site business would then evolve to be your opt in list. You wouldn’t be restricted to serp movements and you don’t have to pay for traffic either.
Absolutely agree Doug. Though we won’t be doing this with physical products, as I personally don’t like the model. The logistics are a pain, the margins are lower and the overhead is higher. We’ll be focusing on lead-gen, info products, subscription sites, training, and SAAS as our primary models.
Doug Stewart says:
Yeah I can totally understand your point regarding the physical products.
As I come from a corporate software background the SAAS sounds pretty cool to me. I see guys like Spencer and Chris Guthrie who have managed to do this successfully. Although Chris’s isn’t subscription based.
To me creating a SAAS from a niche site is very exciting.
Alistair Cochrane says:
Lots of guys (myself included) build niche sites with exact match or partial match domains.
I’ve more and more been seeing this as putting a limit on your project right from the outset. BestWifiToaster.com is only going to grow so big…
With a branded domain you might need a few extra backlinks to rank but when you hit that niche site ceiling you might have the potential to smash through if the market is right.
For example, an amazon associates niche site could move into white labelling a product for their niche and selling on the amazon marketplace.
As I understand reviews and sales are the main ranking factors on the amazon search engine. And of course a niche site with established traffic could help drive sales of your product increasing your rank. A product ranking on the top page of amazon in certain niches can sell enormous volumes.
What’s your thoughts on losing the keyword from your domain? A big deal or not really? Nothing a few extra PBN links won’t compensate for?
Yup branded is a lot better than EMD/PMD now. That party ended awhile ago.
Steve Wyman says:
totally agree. Brand non emd or pmd is the way forward. kinda like in the old days where people branded on their names or some made up name
A niche website = minimum viable product.
If it works, you should / could scale up.
If it does not, you pivot by launching other niches.
But it takes already effort to rank site that once it’s there, it makes sense to push it rather than try to rank another one right away.
Simple economics; finding a strong Demand where the Supply is highly Profitable. So, the niche sites become the market research/spy tools for finding a highly profitable niche business to replicate & supply the demand better. Sites that fail the test in the market get flipped. Sounds like a great business model. Excited to see what kind of results the case studies would bring.
I like this. You are essentially using your niche sites as an Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and if it shows promise you can incrementally put more of an investment into it and scale up from there. Making a niche site is a great testing phase for bigger ideas and at the same time it is also a great way to understand more about that niche which leaves you better prepared to scale up.
Scott Davis says:
That’s exactly right. We see it as a way to quickly test an MVP using the existing traffic from the niche site. This saves time and money in the product validation phase.
Hayden, if I understand correctly. You might have had an adsense site around “plumbers in Houston”. Instead of leaving it as it, you might turn it into a lead gen site for plumbers in Houston. Doesn’t that mean that if you alter the content of your site, you run the risk of losing rankings. Would love to see a case study in action.
Scott Davis says:
Hey Steve, we plan to keep the content on the site but slap a big ass lead gen form above the fold. We’re not looking at “plumbers in Houston” so much but trying to think outside the box a little and look at ways to monetize sites in adsense niches.
Emmett Moore says:
I agree about the future of niche sites. The problem is being able to massively scale out content, which means more than just scaling articles. What it really means is being able to massively scale creativity. I am not sure you can massively scale out high quality, highly creative content by employing a bunch of worker drones in the Php.
This is interesting, I look forward to seeing the results of the above case study in progress! Great work guys!! :D