Niche marketing is often considered one of the easiest and most effective strategies for people looking to generate passive income online.
Traditionally, niche marketing has mostly revolved around building what we call a “niche site”, a process where you first select a broad market, gradually drill down into a low competition niche keyword and subsequently build a monetized site specifically targeting a niche keyword with one or two pages of content.
While this approach still remains largely popular with marketers, it is now common knowledge that the recent penguin update was specifically targeting sites involved in “spammy” or manipulative SEO practices commonly used to rank affiliate and niche sites.
These practices commonly included premeditated use of keyword in title, H1, H2 and H3 tags, excessive and unnatural use of the keyword in the content and also use of keywords in the inbound anchor text links. The common approach to building small niche sites often involved using all of the above practices, which search engine like Google are now capable of detecting.
So, the key question is, are niche sites dead? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, the traditional method of building niche sites is no longer effective but the overall concept of building profitable niche sites is still very much viable and extremely profitable.
Strategic approach to building profitable niche sites
In this post I am going to present a strategic approach or 2012 approach to building niche sites which uses “topics” rather than keywords.
Now, the obvious question that pops to mind is what constitutes a topic?
As I mentioned earlier, a topic is essentially our broad niche, for eg food, yoga, shoes etc. Many of these broad topics will also contain sub topics. For a topic such as yoga, this may include sub topics such as yoga DVD’s, yoga mats, yoga outfits etc. These subtopics may also contain another set of subtopics such as travel yoga mat, thick yoga mat, yoga mat bag.
Instead of targeting one or two specific keywords, we can create a hierarchical category structure within the site to help create a broad topic based site while still incorporating content loosely targeting specific keywords.
Once the basic site framework is in place, the individual categories can then be populated with keyword based content.
For example, the main category, yoga postures may be broken down into subcategories such as beginner, intermediate and advanced which may include individual articles covering basic, intermediate and advanced yoga postures targeting specific keywords. Additionally, yoga accessories may also contain product review style articles on yoga mats, yoga outfit and may also target specific product keywords.
Since yoga is such a vast topic, it may not be strictly possible to build a niche site that covers each and every aspect of yoga, it is important to understand that building a profitable niche site of this nature does not necessarily require you to cover each and every aspect of Yoga.
For example, you could cover the basics around the categories as I mentioned earlier like yoga postures and then simply publish 5-6 articles that talk about some of the common practices targeting specific levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced).
Similarly, with yoga training, you could present 5-6 articles reviewing the top yoga DVD’s and training products.
Building a niche site with such a structure will also offer a much more pleasant experience for your viewers as they will be more inclined to explore various sections and sub categories within your site to look for information they need.
On the contrary, if you were to take the traditional approach to building a niche website then you may only ever publish 1 or 2 articles and most visitors are likely to just bounce off after reading one article and go look for another website that offers a much broader resource. Unusually high bounce rates inevitably raise a big red flag with the search engines and may also lead to algorithmic penalty.
Strategic monetization for niche sites
You can use all the common monetization strategies you would typically use with a traditional niche site such as AdSense, Amazon, banner ads albeit with a slightly more thoughtful implementation.
For example, the best approach with AdSense for such a site would be to move all your ad units into inner pages of your site and use your landing page for promoting your content as much as possible, this is more likely to invite genuine visitors to explore pages of your site and not just bounce off the landing page full of affiliate links and banners.
Another effective monetization method would be to use Amazon affiliate links in the product review section of your website. As the majority of your visitors will only read the reviews if they are interested in purchasing a product, your affiliate clicks will most likely convert to sales at a much higher percentage.
Last but not least, such a site can also be used to build a mailing list for promoting your own products through email marketing. If your visitors find value in your website, they are more than likely to convert to email subscribers.
To recap, here is a step-by-step blueprint for building a profitable topic based niche site:
- Find a broad niche or “topic”
- Create a site blueprint based around key sub topics
- Design categories and subcategories targeting sub topics
- Categorize and publish relevant content and product reviews with at least 5-6 articles for every sub category
I also recommend reading another affiliate marketing guest post I wrote for Problogger.net a few months ago, where I presented two real world case studies of affiliate sites using the micro niche and the topic based approach.
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