Examining Niches: How Small is Too Small?

One question I keep getting is when doing your niche research, how small it to small of a niche?   How specific should you be?  This is a question that cannot be answered without examining specific niche examples, so instead I decided that I’ll do my best to go into greater detail on what I do when choosing a niche for a BANS or affiliate site.

In order to really tell how specific you should be with a niche, you’ll first need to identify the niche you want to target, then start with some keyword research.   Far and away the best choice I’ve found is Micro Niche Finder.  This tool has a small cost associated with it, but remember that it takes money to make money, right?   There are some free alternatives to do keyword niche research, but they won’t go into as much detail.  For more information, you can check out my review of Micro Niche Finder.

Once you’ve got your keyword research tool of choice available, you can start searching for the keywords you want to begin targeting.  Start large, but use the tool to find low competition sub-keywords, or keywords that are more specific.   The goal is to keep getting more and more specific until you find one that gets 1,000 or more searches a month and has less than 20,000 people competing for this keyword.   I’ve seen others strive for a slightly different benchmark, but that is what I personally have found seems to work best.  

One example might be someone deciding they want a cell phone site.   Start with the keyword cell phones, then try motorola cell phones, then if there is a lot of competition, try motorola cell phone chargers, motorola cell phone batteries, etc.  You just need to keep going until you find a large enough demand with a smaller amount of competition.   With a strong keyword-rich domain name, you could be in the top 3 search results in only a couple months with the proper backlinks.  

As you can see from the above example, your best bet is to go with the least specific niche you can get while still getting the low competition.   If there is competition, keep getting more and more specific.  

Niche Blogging: Don’t Focus On One Individual Blog or Store

While browsing my feeds today, I ran across an interesting post about how affiliate marketers need to start multiple niche blogs at once. This is something I have always practiced and I guess I just took for granted that everyone practiced this strategy.

Anyway, the author’s main point is that niche blogging requires time and patience more than anything to succeed, so rather than spending your time waiting for your seed you planted to grow, start working on some extra seeds while you wait.

I always make a habit of launching 5 niche blogs or BANS stores at a time. Then each weekend I try to finish one of those blogs over the next 5 weeks. Once all 5 are done, I start another 5 and so on. This method has worked very well, and I’ve found that it is a great use of my time.

I know many of my readers work on niche blogging. What methods have you found work best?

Tips For Picking a Popular Niche For A New Blog

Whenever you start a new blog, it is extremely important to spend a little time researching before purchasing a domain name, picking a design, and launching the blog.   Before getting started, you’ll first need to find the right niche for your blog.   This is often easier said than done.  Even if you know what you want to talk about, sometimes you are better off looking for a more focused keyword within the same niche.

If you are interested in learning more about how to research your niche, Copyblogger has posted some great tips on niche keyword research and provides some examples of a keyword hunt that was recently done.  This is probably one of the better write ups covering niche keyword strategy.

How much research do you do before launching a new blog?

Google Now Manually Monitoring Search Results?

With the size of the world wide web, it seems impossible to think that Google could manually monitor their search results, but a recent post over at SEOBook.com titled Mom and Pop Websites?  Is Your Brand Big Enough? really got me thinking about whether this is possible or not, and how this will effect small sites designed to snipe certain keywords.

In Aaron’s post, he mentions that someone he knows was banned from Google because his blog used the default WordPress template.   This got my attention.   Even though I’ve never used the Kubrick theme or a variation of it on any of my sites, I think the fact that Google looks at things like this makes me wonder what else they would look at if they are human editing their search results.

Apparently human editing will be more common in 2008 and here are the signs that Aaron recommends you make sure your site does NOT exhibit to help it look authentic:

  • has a default WordPress design
  • has multiple hyphens in the domain name
  • exclusively monetizes via Google AdSense, placed top and to the left in the content area of the page
  • does not have a clear way to contact you
  • lacks an about us section
  • is registered with fake whois

For keyword snipers, this is something to pay attention to.   Where are your ads positioned?  Do you have an About/Contact page?

The Mindset of Being a Keyword Sniper

Yesterday I wrote a fairly detailed post about the basics of keyword sniping.   In the past I’ve also touched a bit on keyword sniping in a few of my posts, as well as pointed you to an excellent resource of keyword sniping over at CourtneyTuttle.com.

For those unfamiliar with the term keyword sniping, this is the process of using tools such as Micro Niche Finder to locate under represented keywords and creating a website to fill this void.  If done properly and monetized correctly, you can take a little traffic and convert it into a lot of income.

What I wanted to touch on today is the mindset you need to have when attempting to snipe a keyword because it is quite a bit different from the mindset needed as a blogger or as a domainer.

As a blogger you probably have many goals, including developing a reader base, increasing your subscriber count, and growing your brand and authority within your niche. Domainers have a slightly different mindset, as there focus is primarily on finding domains that are brandable and have strong keyword combinations so that they hold resale value (or receive enough natural traffic to monetize directly).

In order to complete a successful keyword snipe, it is important to take a completely different approach to creating your website. The first thing you’ll want to do is throw out everything you have learned as a blogger. The only parallel is that you are after search engine traffic. Gone are the days where you care about feed subscribers or readership. You’ll be writing 10-20 posts when you launch the blog, then probably nothing after that (though I’ve found it best to add one or two posts a month if possible). Not only do you not care about subscribers, you actually don’t want your content to be relevant. The goal as a keyword sniper is to generate search engine traffic to your blog, then have them not find what they are looking for. This simply means that your content needs to be relevant to the search engines, but not to readers. If people come to your site and find what they are looking for, they won’t click anything.  If people come to your site looking for something specific and don’t find it, they will either hit the back button on their browser, or click on an advertisement/affiliate link. You want a large percentage of them to click the advertisement/affiliate link.

If you go into keyword sniping with this mindset and a lot of patience, you should find some success.  As long as your CTR is above 3%, you’re doing things right and will just need to work on increasing traffic.   To do this, you’ll just need to periodically research and adjust site keywords to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.   If your site isn’t at 3% CTR or higher after a year, then you’ll either want to make some changes to your setup or not renew your domain and go after a new keyword.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

The Basics of Keyword Sniping

Keyword sniping is something I’ve been doing for close to a year now, but only recently has it truly turned profitable. Therefore, I figure I’ve finally got enough experience doing this to be comfortable sharing what I’ve learned about it over this year with my readers.

For those unfamiliar with the term “keyword sniping“, this is one of a few terms used by webmasters who create a website or blog specifically to fill a void left by an under-represented search engine keyword. In order for it to be truly effective, you’ll want to find situations where there are 2,000 or more searches a month and only a small amount of competition for that specific keyword you are targeting.

Find a Good Keyword to Target

When attempting to find a new keyword to snipe, you’ll need to use a tool to figure out which keyword you intend to target. You’ll need to try to find a keyword that is really specific, and preferably receives 2,000+ searches a month, while having only a small amount of competition (usually 400,000 or less search results). There are several tools that help you accomplish this, but you are probably going to have to invest a little money up front. When I’m doing this, I use Micro Niche Finder to locate under-represented keywords.

Getting A Good Domain Name

Once you’ve found the keyword you are going to go after, the next step is to find the best domain available for that keyword. Some people get caught up in old habits and spend time trying to find a good dot com domain. Remember that your site will not be after natural traffic, so any top-level domain will work just as well. I personally will buy dot info domains because they are only $3.00 right now at GoDaddy for the first year. If it doesn’t work out after a year, I’m only out the $3.00. If you insist upon having a dot com domain, you’ll want to grab domains with hyphens in them as this helps search engines separate keywords. If your domain is blogtips.com, search engines don’t know if this is supposed to be “blo gtips”, “b logtips”, or “blog tips.” You get the idea. Having a domain like blog-tips.com tells search engines exactly what your keywords are for your website. [Read more…]