How To Build A Niche Site Series Part 2: Picking Your Niche

Well here we are already into part 2 of how to build a niche website series and if you haven’t read part 1 yet you can do that here. in this article I’m going to cover the steps I took to find my niche.  One thing I should mention before I go any further is that their is no hard and fast rules to picking your niche.  I also can ‘t guarantee that it will even be profitable.

That being said, picking your niche is the single most crucial step of the process and not one you want to take lightly.  On the other hand this is also the step where a lot of people tend to get held up as well.  For me it took nearly a month to pick my niche and I know I could have done this a lot faster but I did manage to pick my niche after much deliberation.

Challengers

I would also like to say a special thank you to those who plan to be a part of the challenge   I know most of you are fairly busy with your own sites right now and that’s perfectly fine.  If you want to jump in you can do so at any time.

That also being said I know a few of you are planning to be a part of the challenge and build your own niche sites and that is great.  I look forward to hearing about what you come up with and what kind of results you get.  So to pump everyone up I thought I’d start things out right and share some of my current results.

Some Early Success

I’ve actually had a small bit of success with my niche site already so I thought I would share the good news.  My niche site is already up and running and I even have a few page of content on the site already but what’s even more amazing is that I looked up my main keyword and seen that I was already ranking 9th in Google for it.

What this means is that in order to rank 1st for my main keyword it it’s not going to take a ton a work, which is exactly what I was looking for.  On the other hand this could mean that my main keyword is not competitive enough but whatever the case I already have several methods in mind as to how this niche site could be a very profitable website.  I’ll cover more on how I plan to monetize my site later, but for now let’s not get ahead of ourselves and focus on the basics.

Completing these basic steps are so important in the beginning as they can mean the difference between a successful site and a nothing at all. So let’s get started.

How I Chose My Niche

In order to pick out your niche I have laid out the same 6 step plan that I have used to find my niche.  So take your time with these steps and chose something you feel you will enjoy writing about over the next several months.

Write Down Ideas.  The first thing I did was wrote down a ton of different ideas.  However, when you’re writing your topic ideas down think more about the problem you are trying to solve rather than some random keyword.  For example, don’t write down iPhone.  Instead think of the specific problem you are trying to solve, such as how to repair your iPhone screen.

The reason you want to think in terms of problems is because if someone has a problem they are trying to solve a lot of times they will pay money to have someone fix it.  On top of that don’t be afraid to write down whatever comes to your mind.  Doing this gives you a huge pool of opportunities to pick from.  In fact my list was several pages long.

Pick The 3 Best.  From here once you’ve written down a bunch of different problems pick the 3 best ideas on your list.  This can be a hard thing to do if you have a bunch of ideas you like but just pick 3.

Do Your Research.  Now that you have your 3 topic ideas chosen the real fun begins.  This is where you do a little research to find out if something is profitable or not.  In most cases at least one of the topics you have chosen will have some sort of profitability to it.

To get started you will need a tool analyze keywords to figure out which one is the best keyword.  To do this you will need the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.  This tool will everything you need to pick the correct keyword to base your entire site around and it’s totally free.

If you haven’t used this tool yet simply click the link above and you may need to log in or create an account with  Google.  Once your logged in you will need to find the keyword tool.  You can find that by hovering over Tools and Analysis and clicking on Keyword Tool.

Keyword_tool

 

From here you will want to enter in your keyword that discribes your niche best in about 3 to 5 words.  For example in my case with the iphone example I typed in Replace iPhone Screen.  Below is what the I got for my results.

replace_iphone_screen_

 

At this point you should have typed in your main keyword and got a list of results however you will want to do a few things to find the best results.

  1. Exact Match.  First you will want to go with exact match in the keyword tool.  This will show the results for that exact keyword and exactly how many people search that keyword in a given month.  
  2. Arrange Columns.  Secondly you don’t need to see all the different columns that adwords gives.  Instead I only show the Keyword, competitive, Global, Local, and CPC column on my results page.  You can adjust this by going to Columns in the upper right corner and selecting the appropriate columns.
  3. Traffic and CPC.  Finally, the last thing you will want to do is find a keyword that describes your niche, has at least 1000 to 2500 searches a month, and at least $1 or more for the CPC which stands for Cost Per Click.  If you look at the search I did you will see that I have exactly a 1000 searches a month and a $1.61 for the CPC, which is pretty good.

Competition.  From here we want to determine the amount of competition that your keyword has.  To do this all you have to do is preform a simple search for your keyword in Google.  Below is a search for my keyword.

repalce_iphone_screen_results

From here their are a couple of things we will want to know about these results.

  • Page Rank.  The first thing we will want to know is the page rank of each of these pages.  Page rank will tell you roughly how strong and competitive the page is. While it’s not perfect, it can give us a good idea of how difficult this niche will be.   To figure this out simply download a page rank extension  into your browser and when you visit the page it will you tell what the page rank is.  Typically, you don’t want anything more than a 3 for less competitive results but a few 4 and 5’s won’t hurt.  For example, the first three results I came up with showed a PR5 but after that all the other page were between a PR1 to a PR3, which tells me their is some room to work with here.
  • Title Tag.  The second thing you will want to look at is the title tag.  Google puts a lot of weighting on the title of an article.  What’s interesting about the first four results on this page is that even though these pages have a high Page Rank none of them use the keyword in the title tag which is a clear and obvious advantage for us.
  • URL. The third thing to consider is the URL. If the number 1 result on page 1 of Google is a website with the URL ReplaceiPhoneScreen.com or something similar to that it’s going to be tough to beat, but it just so happens that none of the pages have a URL like this which means we have another clear advantage here as well.

Consider Profitability.  At this point we should have a clear idea what keywords will be good to base our site around.  However one of the last things we need to do before we pick out niche determine if their is any profitability in this niche.

To do this we need to list out several options that will give us an idea of how profitable the niche could be.  For example, with our iphone niche I come up with a few ideas such as using Adsense, affiliate programs, or maybe you want to start our own business fixing iphone screens, the options are literally endless here.  Below is a list that I came up with that might help you out if you get stuck trying to figure out how to make your niche profitable.

  • Adsense
  • Affiliate programs
  • Job board
  • Classified adds
  • Directory
  • Direct advertising
  • Sell an ebook
  • Create a membership site
  • Create a tool
  • Make a real physical product
  • Offer Consulting 

If you’re not sure what all of these different things are don’t worry about it.  I will be getting more in depth with monitization and how to earn money with your niche site later on. For now just write down a few ideas you would like to earn money from your site.

Pick Your Niche.  Once you’ve done your research, considered the competition, and the profitability it time to pick your niche and if went through all three of your possible niche ideas like this you should know which one is the most profitable and has the least competition.

On top of that I usually like to do the gut check.  If I feel that this is a niche that I really want to take on I will go with it, but if I just don’t feel it in my gut I’ll usually pick one of the other two niches.

Finally, once you’ve picked your niche you will need to buy your domain name.  I use a service called Name Cheap to pick my domain name.  Typical domain names will run around $11 a year.  I also suggest you go with a .com .net or a .org on the end of your domain name, such as ReplaceiPhoneScreens.com and if you can’t get the exact matching domain for you keyword just try adding a word to it such as ReplaceMyiPhoneScreen.com.

Finally, try to keep your domain to as few as 5 words or less, in fact the shorter the better because it will be easier for people to remember.  However you will want your keyword to be in the domain name to have the best chances of ranking for it.

What’s Next

At this point you may have chosen your niche and that is great, however if you are still having problems leave a comment below and I will try and help you out the best I can.

In next weeks article I will be diving into designing your site structure and putting your site plan together.  A good website is always preplanned before it is ever built and I will cover just exactly what you need to put this together.

So what do you think?  Have you picked your niche yet?

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12 Comments

  1. Excellent explanation of the first steps. This will be very helpful when I narrow my list down. I particularly like how you went in depth about the free Google Keywords. I know others pay for this service but I didn’t know what to look for/how to effectively use Google Keywords. I will be posting soon my efforts with this challenge. Reading this post just heightens my excitement….except for the fact I have to wait a week for the next part!

  2. I will add on too make sure you understand the niche. Don’t see a high CPC and get excited for the profitability. If you understand the niche, you will be more likely to succeed!

  3. It’s great to see you as exited as I am Jon. I know a lot of people like to incorporate paid tools instead of using the Google keyword tool because it speed the process up but I don’t always have the funds to spend on things like that. On top of that I like to do a lot of the work myself manually to make sure I pick a great niche. Anyways I look forward to hearing what you come up with.

  4. Good point Grayson. Don’t just pick a niche because it has a high cost per click. I know when you see a CPC for $20 it can sound very tempting but if the niche is really competitive you won’t stand much of a chance. On top of that I also agree that it’s good to understand or even experience your niche. I have a lot of experience with my niche which helps me out a lot. However I wouldn’t go as far to say that you have to be passionate about it, but like I said you should do a gut check with your topic. If you can’t see yourself writing about this topic over the long term you may want to pick a different niche.

  5. Get overview on niche selection. I usually keep my ear to the ground and look for niches that people say to stay out of because they’re “too competitive.”

    If something is competitive, it’s because there is a lot of money up for grabs in the niche. I take a good hard look at these niches and see if there is a way that I can attack it from a different angle, or own a sub-niche altogether. If I see an opportunity, I build out the project as fast a possible.

  6. After thinking about this some more, I have a follow up question. When looking for possible niches, I am looking at the page rank of the competition on Google. There are a few 5’s but the majority of the high PR sites listed are news sites, like CNN. Would that discourage you from entering the niche? Is it harder to overcome these sites as opposed to sites that specifically focus on the niche or does it not matter?

  7. Good point Mike, a competitive niche is usually a very profitable niche, however just as you said it’s best to find a sub niche within that niche or something closely related because you could be fighting a lot of the competition to get rank high in the search engines.

  8. Thanks for sharing, I enjoy this topic and would love to have that eureka moment where I find the perfect niche site idea. Keeping a blog is a lot of work! A niche sounds really passive once you make it. Do you rely only on CPC or affiliate sales?

  9. Great question Jon. A few PR5’s on a the page shows that their is some competitiveness to the topic but if the majority of them are news sites or pages like You Tube they can beat out simply because CNN or You Tube are not building links and promoting these pages actively on a daily basis. News and other similar sites can be passed up in the rankings but it may take a little more work. On the other hand if almost all the pages are PR 4’s, or higher then I would strongly suggest you look for a different keyword or maybe even an entirely different topic.

  10. Hi Pauline, that’s a great question. When it comes to my blog I typically earn the majority of my income form Adsense and some affiliate sales. That being said I think those two methods of earning income for a blog or a niche site are just fine however I strongly suggest you have two sources of income for your blog or niche site.

    For example, in the niche I’m pursuing I’m looking to add a job board because it would fit great for the type of niche I’m getting into. The reason I say this is because I’ve been doing this for nearly 5 years and I can tell you from first hand experiences that Google is not always that forgiving. That’s why I suggest finding a second way to earn money with your site that’s not directly tied to Google.

    I should also mention that niche sites are not entirely passive income either. Like a blog you will have to do some type of maintenance to keep it going, such as adding new content. I’ll be going into more detail on both of these topics in the coming weeks.

  11. In my niche site building experiences – I also used only free tools starting out. I used similar methods to what you explain here, but have since upgraded to using paid tools.

    One free tool that would help your process immensely is a browser plugin called SeoQuake. This allows you to see PageRank plus a whole slew of other site statistics right in your Google search results page!

    I’ve learned that it is easiest to rank if you have at least 2 or 3 sites in the current top 10 that have no PR or PR0.

    I purchased Long Tail Pro a few months ago and use it for my keyword research tool. I’ve got to tell you, it has made a world of difference in my ability to do effective keyword research! Before I purchased the tool, I bought 10 domains to build niche sites on. Now that I have the tool and re-researched these keywords, I probably shouldn’t have bought any of those domains!! In other words, what I thought was effective keyword research methods with the free Google Adwords tool turned out to be not so effective.

    I ran “replace iphone screen” through Long Tail Pro – and I’ll just say that this is a keyword that I wouldn’t touch. It would be possible to rank in the top 10, but only after a LOT of work. It would not be easy to rank a small niche site for this keyword, according to my advanced research.

    Good series here Chris. I’m looking forward to following along some more.

  12. Thanks for looking that up on Long Tail Pro Matthew. I’ve never used that product before but I’ve often considered buying it. As for the keyword I was only using it as an example and didn’t do a ton of research on the keyword. However, I still think it could be a great niche to build a site around.

    The reason I say that is because I feel you never know how competitive a keyword will actually be until you are actually trying to rank for it. I’ve had keywords that I thought would be easy to rank for and couldn’t even come close to ranking in just the top 10. Then other keywords would come very easy that just looked really competitive.

    For example, I use to rank #1 for the term Good Investments before all the Panda and Penguin stuff hit and I couldn’t understand why. I think the paid tools defiantly do help but they will never predict results that will be 100% accurate.

    On top of that I’ve also made sites work that didn’t even have a keyword in the URL and were using a more branded name such as Stumble Forward and have managed to make several thousand dollars just from that site.

    In the end I feel it all comes down to how hard do you want to work for it. Even if the niche would be competitive you could still rank for it but it will just take a lot more time and effort which could also be far more rewarding in the end.

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