January 9, 2014

How I'm Building A Big Niche Site That Serves Readers First And Still Earns A Good Income

I've been at the niche site game for a while now. I've made a bunch of crappy sites and some good ones but these days I feel like it's in my best interest to build good sites almost all the time. It's what search engines want to serve up in SERPs, it's what readers want to find, share and read, and it's more gratifying for me.

I do need to be adequately compensated however. I dislike the term "MFA" whether you are referring to Adsense or Affiliate but in all honesty who the heck is going to go through the trouble of building a website or web presence if they have no goal of leveraging that site for financial gain?

Non-monetized websites are still about financial gain, they just go about it the round-about way. Authors who don't monetize simply build up a name and audience and then use that to do other stuff like sell books, gain off-line clients, build a list, fill in the blank.

Anyway I don't like beating around the bush and I'm sure you want me to get to the meat of the post so here goes:

As of January 2014 This Is How I Like Building Big Niche Sites

First of all this is what I mean and value in a big niche site:

  • The site is siloed based on information
  • The site is siloed based on products (if applicable)
  • The information presented is accurate, helpful, documented, and sourced (if applicable) - in short, the information presented genuinely helps the reader and provides value to them.
  • The site is well centered around a tight topic or slightly wider market segment.

How you monetize it is up to you. For me I've been big into Amazon Associates as of late but any kind of monetization will work so long as it's not detrimental to user experience.

I show Amazon links where appropriate and where a reader will expect them and contextual ads such as Adsense or Media.net to name a couple big players should be positioned prominently but not so that they are intrusive.

My Plans For The Near Term

Jason is a Big Duck over at The Pond Forum. He's been making a killing with sites predominantly monetized by Adsense. On the forum he's laid out a method he's developed and been following for building and ranking sites in search that are making lots of money. His sites are mostly less than 6 months old as of this writing and are pulling in around $2k per month combined.

I'll be starting a few sites modeled after his method that fall in line with my values for larger niche sites. (You can only access this information by joining the Pond Forum - sorry it's not my information to share publicly because of the paid wall its behind but you can get the gist of the procedure by following this plan of mine.)

This morning - prior to writing this blog post - I looked at an old keyword that I used to get traffic for over on my long defunct Longevity blog. The post never made a lot of money but it wasn't well monetized and it certainly was't siloed or setup to really help readers or maximize page views. It was just a piece of content that got some traffic for a time (2009-2011) without any links or promotion on my part. For a page published during that time I find this keyword particularly interesting.

I've decided to use this keyword as the main keyword for a new site I'll be building out. I plan to build this in short order and then enhance it over time. This is the Beta version concept. Nothing is perfect right out of the box these days. Build it and improve it over time is the way I roll.

I'll share more detail in upcoming posts and if you are connected you might see updates on my social accounts, forums such as the pond or the InfoBarrel forums to name a couple I'm active on.

I'll likely be leveraging InfoBarrel and Pinterest for this specific site but as my strategy develops I'll have more detail to share.

For now I have identified a siloed site structure and every post title I'll be using at least initially.

To start with I'll have:

  • 1 Homepage
  • 5 Main Articles
  • 8 Sub-Articles That Expand Upon The Main 5
  • 1 Main Product Hub - This is a page that indexes all the product sales pages on the site.
  • 17 Sales Pages For Products

As for structure this of it this way, the 8 sub articles point to the 5 main articles. The 5 main articles point to both the homepage and the Main Product Hub. The product Hub points to all 17 product sales pages as it is an index of sorts. Each of the product sales pages links to a handful of related product sales pages.

The point here is not to game anything or cheat the system, it's to provide a good reader experience. Site navigation is very important to readers and conveniently it's what search engines want too and they tend to reward sites that are well structured.

I'll do my best to update this post as my initial strategy fully forms and I'll provide updates elsewhere on and off the blog in the coming days and weeks.

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  1. Are you using off-the shelf software or something custom to build the site?

    1. No software, I'm doing everything manually. I planned the post title for every post and page before putting the site on my hosting account. I then published 32 pages in a row with the title, a one-liner of original text, a closely related youtube video embed, and a contextual text link to the other pages in the site structure that I had already planned out.

      Basically every page was published with about 40 words of content and a youtube video. I focused on getting the pages online and the site structure set prior to building out proper content for each page. Takes some time but I did the whole thing on day one in a few hours while entertaining my two year old - crazy he let me work so much that day. :)

      In the next couple days the plan is to start building out lengthy and more comprehensive content on every page. I'll detail how I do this in an upcoming post but to give a teaser I will treat every page as a scratch pad full of random notes on the topic and links to sources. I will treat each one like a white board brainstorming session. Eventually the pages will be further refined into something more closely resembling a blog post or final document.

      So far it's been three days since everything went online and I'm not indexed yet. On Monday (in the morning) I'll be implementing a sitemap "hack" I learned over on The Pond that results in full site indexation within minutes. I've never tried it before but I do expect it to work. I'll report back with my results. :)

    2. I think I'd struggle to build a manual site these days, especially if I wanted anything remotely dynamic. I haven't done much like that in a few years.

    3. It's not so hard to do. I don't always plan out a site with 32 pages right off the bat but most get to that range eventually. Actually I'd like to see my niche sites getting around 75-100 quality posts on them these days. Seems like a better way to cover a niche rather than just a single kyeword on a homepage.

    4. It's the actual coding I'd struggle with. I could probably manage it with WordPress - in fact I'm working on a couple at the moment, but I'm purely creating content and planning so far.

    5. Sorry for the confusion, I did use wordpress to set this site up. I meant I didn't use any tools to set up the pages/posts/content on wordpress. All of that was done by hand.


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