How to build a niche site – Part 3

In the third and last post of this niche site series, we’ll talk about link building and monetization.

Link building

To many, it has almost become a 5-letter word now, but backlinks still matter, a lot, what changed is the way you should get them. After the Penguin update, there are two things you need to pay extreme attention to: anchor text and relevancy. When building links, keep exact match anchor texts to the minimum, let’s say 10-15%, and vary the rest as much as possible. Use synonyms of the main keyword, long phrases, your naked URL, your own name, and maybe even a few “click here.” Also, get links from sites that talk about the same topic, as this is another authenticity signal in Google’s eyes.

How much link building will you need? In general, the more time you spent on keyword research, the more patient you were in digging up keywords with good potential, the less link building you will need to make those terms rank. When you start doing it however, take it easy during the first month, and be a bit more active afterwards, but don’t go too fast anyway. Here are a couple of tips for a basic link building strategy:

Guest posting

Its popularity as link building technique has soared a lot in the last year. Maybe you won’t be able to get attention from the top sites in your niche, but you can still find a good and relevant blog that will accept your article

Commenting on blogs

It’s still a good way to get a backlink, but make sure you use your name as anchor text, and please leave comments that can add something to the discussion

Ezine and Goarticles

These two are especially good at the beginning, to let Google know you exist and to have your site indexed more quickly

Other web directories

Go for the good ones, stay away from bad neighborhoods. A good list can be found here at SEObook.

Slideshare and Docstoc

If you can make a slideshow or a pdf out of your content, these two sites are gaining more popularity as link building resources

Press releases

One or two press releases won’t hurt the link building process, and will help spread the popularity of your site a little

If you don’t see any meaningful result in rankings after one-two months, there is a more advanced method that you can try, which involves buying an expired domain with PR 2 or 3. With a little bit of research you can find one that is not too expensive, and then populate it with content related to your niche. When this satellite site is indexed again, then you can use it to link to your main site directly or, if you want to be more sophisticated, you can reach out to a webmaster in your niche, with a good authority site, and offer a three-way linking: you will link to his site and he will link to yours.

Making money

Let’s finish where it all begun: the money. Once you’re getting traffic, you will need to experiment a little to find out the best way to monetize your site. In general however, you can follow these two principles:

What are you selling?

Programs like Adsense work better for purely informational sites, whereas if you dealing with products that you can physically buy, then Amazon, Ebay, or affiliate programs in general might be a better choice

Differentiate

Adsense is the best online advertising program in its category, but not the only one. Try with different sources of income: you might find better alternatives, and you will get familiar with different programs.

If you like the process of discovering of new keywords and the challenge of learning about a topic you don’t know yet, niche sites can be a nice source of passive income. This is all you need to know to get started.

How to build a niche site – Part 2

In the first post of this niche site series, we explained what a good keyword is, and how to find inspiration for you research.

Now that you have brainstormed any keyword you can possibly imagine, run it through your tool of choice and shortlisted the terms with the right attributes, you’re in for a (not so) surprising discovery: you have competition, meaning that other people have built pages around that keyword before. However, not all competitors are the same: some are less strong than others, and in this post we will teach you how to spot them.

Paste your candidate keyword in Google search and take note of the top ten results. A value that is normally used to evaluate the competitiveness of a keyword is the total number of pages in the SERPS (the lower the number, the better), but that really doesn’t matter: the first page is all you need to care about, because that’s where you want to be eventually.

Now that you have your list of competitors, this is what you need to check, to know how strong they are:

Title tag

Are they using the exact keyword within the title of their page? If they aren’t, that’s a good sign, as it means that, all other things being equal, you have more chances to outrank them by including the full keyword in the title

Page Authority

It’s an SEOmoz metric, which aggregates different values to indicate how likely the page will rank in Google. It can easily be checked with the MOZbar Firefox extension. A sign of weak PA would be a score of 30 or less

Backlinks

Another SEOmoz metric called Juice Page Links will be useful here. It gives the page a score based on the quality and quantity of backlinks. Again, a maximum score of 30 or – better – 20 would be a good indicator that the page can be easily outranked

Page Rank

It’s the dear old Google metric, which assigns value to a given page. It is less popular than before, but you might still want to check if any of the pages has a zero PR, as that’s a good sign too.

 

All the data above can be easily checked with tools like Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro (the latter pulls data specifically from SEOmoz), but with more time available, it can be done manually and for free.

Of course, not all the pages in the top ten will have all those weakness signals at the same time, but if you find at least two of them that are weak enough, that means the keyword is worth exploring.

Content creation

Congratulations, your search is over, now it’s time to get your hands dirty (so to speak) with the creation of the niche site. Indeed, the process of keyword selection up to this point hasn’t changed much over the years. The moment you start creating your website however, is when we need to care about quality more than before.

The code word now is: be useful. It’s very likely that the niche you found is something you know little or nothing about, but that’s no longer an excuse to pollute the internet with mediocre content. The first thing you should do is check your competition: what type of info do they offer? What do you like and what could be done better? After you have an idea of what you should offer in your own site, you need content, and here are a couple of good ways to get it:

Research

Even if you don’t know much about the topic, with little research you might still be able to produce good insightful content. If the internet is not enough, you can still try with your local library

Outsource

Places like Elance.com can offer good writers in your niche. The money you pay for the articles will be a one-time investment and will save you time

 

Aggregate information in a new, useful way. Maybe there is already a ton of information available on the topic, but it’s all scattered across different sources. Why not aggregate it and create a sort of hub for your visitors?

Also, bear in mind that the 5-post blog is gone forever. Once the site starts ranking and getting some traffic, then you can choose to leave it there and move on to the next one, but before doing that, make sure you publish at least 50 articles over time. That will also allow you to take advantage of the long(er) tail variations of the main term you’re targeting. Also, don’t forget to add pictures, a decent template, and an About page that is more than just blabbering.

How to build a niche site – Part 1

Are niche sites dead? After the recent Google updates, does it still make sense to build a site around a single specific keywords like “Halloween costumes for kids” or “post-pregnancy workout?”

In the last two years, niche sites have been heavily targeted by Google, mainly because of their low quality: ugly templates, no more than 5 spun articles of content, and tons of poor quality backlinks were common features. They were called MFAs, or made for Adsense, and many webmasters actually wanted their users to be repelled by their sites, so that they would click back via an ad.

What about now then? Niche sites are not dead and can still be a viable source of passive income, but a few things have changed. In this three-post series we’ll explain how to build a niche site and make it rank in Google in the post-Panda and Penguin world. We suggest you start with one, and then lather, rinse repeat. Here is a breakdown of the single steps:

What’s in a keyword?

A good keyword has high potential, which means (relatively) high volume of traffic with (relatively) low competition. Finding a good keyword is the first and most important step, and I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to do your homework with diligence. I’ve seen many niche site projects fail because of people being too eager to start a website first, and see what happens later.

Finding keyword ideas

Finding the right keyword is a mix of science and art. The first thing to look at is the volume of searches per month, as there is no point in ranking number one for a term that nobody is interested in.

Can it be monetized?

To find that out, the Google Adwords Keyword tool is still the best free resource you can have. If you’re willing to pay to speed up the process however, Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro are two very solid options. The first is a desktop application, the latter is an online tool, and they can pull a comprehensive list of terms from a seed keyword, complete with search volumes.

Whichever tool you decide to use, here are three basic rules to follow:

  • A minimum of 2000 exact global searches per month is what you should aim for, but you can set a higher starting number, 3000 per month for example. In doing that, you will likely make the research a bit longer but you will end up with keywords with higher potential.
  • Always go for “exact” match type, as opposed to “broad.” It’s literally just about ticking one box instead of the other, but it will make the difference between real and useless values
  • Also, keywords should be phrases of at least two or three words, as they are normally much easier to rank for than one-word terms.

The art of finding inspiration for keyword ideas. What terms should you paste in the keyword research tool? This is the point where building niche sites become a sort of art. The first go-to places would be Amazon or Ebay, where stuff is actually sold, and if you search for the best sellers in each category, you can start getting an idea of what a popular keyword is like.

Competition analysis

However, that’s just the beginning. Remember: good profitable keywords can be hidden everywhere, and the best place to hide something is often in front of your own eyes. So look around right now, and make a list of all the objects you see: your next niche site might be right there. Once you get into search mode, you’ll find yourself more aware of the things surrounding you, as they can turn out to be a good topic.

 

Monetization

Can it be monetized? Once you have found suitable candidates, you want to check if the keyword has commercial potential: is it sold online on Amazon, Ebay, or other affiliate programs? Do ads appear in the search results? It’s a quick check that can save you time and disappointment at a later stage, as there is no point in getting to number one in Google for a term, just to find out that there is no meaningful market behind.

Small Business SEO Tips

If you own a small business and you never worried too much about SEO so far, you will soon realize it can be a fairly complex subject to master.  You can get small business SEO tips in many places – the best thing you can do is hire a good SEO agency, it’s important to know what to ask for and what to expect from an SEO campaign.

Check out these small business SEO tips

  1. It takes time. An effective small business SEO campaign won’t give you a spike of traffic overnight. These things take time, so be willing to wait at least two-three months before you start seeing any result.The good news is, building a successful website is often a matter of momentum: once you start taking off, things tend to grow exponentially, provided you keep on doing the right things.
  2. The thesaurus can be your friend. You will be focusing on keywords that are more directly related to your business, try and look for other phrases that can be included in your content. Use synonyms, and keep an eye on your analytics to see what terms are bringing you traffic, as there might be a few you would have never thought of.Using the Google keyword tool is a way many get this job done.  Another option is Long Tail Pro which will speed up the Google Keyword Tool process.  (affiliate link – which will give you a free 10 day trial, I highly recommend trying it out…it works well.)

Know who you’re talking to. Even if the site is centered on your business, keep in mind that you are writing for an audience: what are their needs and pains? What type of help would they expect from a site like yours? What can you offer them that your competitors don’t? Try to get at least a general answer to the questions above, and don’t be afraid to ask your customers directly.

Content is forever. Content marketing has already been called the new SEO. Whereas it might be a little exaggerated, it’s not far from the truth. A constant production of quality content will give your readers a reason to come back, and allow you to cast a wider net of long tail keywords for your organic searches. Never stop producing content.

Navigation, navigation, navigation. Your site must be easy and clear to use, period. Put a clear structure in place, and make it easy for your visitors to find everything that your content has to offer. A poor experience for users will likely make them leave your site, and never come back.

Don’t rule out PPC advertising. Traffic coming from search engines is normally defined as “free,” but that’s misleading to say the least, as it doesn’t take into account all the necessary resources to produce content and make it rank. So why not consider running a PPC campaign and get some paid traffic as well. You will need to test constantly, but it can still offer a good ROI.

Keep an eye on keyword trends. What is bringing you traffic now might be less popular tomorrow. Keep an eye on new trends in your business, and be ready to catch keywords with rising popularity. The best portfolio of keywords is always a mix of core terms and more dynamic ones.

Get social. Nowadays, no company can afford to stay out of social media. Whether most of your target audience can be found on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, social media are fundamental to engage with your customers, promote your business and even offer customer service.

There’s not only Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook, including your competitors. Yet, there are less known social platforms you can be on. They will have a smaller base of users, but could be more targeted for your specific audience, and free from competitors.

Stay in touch with your SEO guy. Today’s online marketing requires a tight connection between social media campaigns, content marketing and site optimization. Make sure your SEO person is connected to your marketing and content production departments. Synergy is the code word.

How to Launch an eBook

In today’s online marketing world, you can’t just hope to plaster the web with ads, and expect buyers to flock to you with the wallet in their hands. People expect to get value first, and they want it for free.m and that’s why content marketing has become so popular.

As a result, if you’re planning to make money online selling a product or a service, the process you will have to go through will be:

give value for free –> build up a need for more —> give that extra value in exchange of money

But what is value anyway?

One possible answer is: whatever fulfills a need. In this sense, even a cat meme will work, because people want to be entertained. However, the best value you can offer is when you teach something to someone, and most of the times words are still the main way to do it.

So if you have a knowledge that other people could benefit from, you should start planning to write and launch an e-book. Although it’s no longer the one and only way to convey knowledge, the written word is not out of fashion, and virtually every niche can have a related book that provides great value.

How do you promote and sell your value?

We won’t beat around the bush here: the best tool you can use is email marketing. After “content is king,” “the money is in the list” is the most repeated phrase in the online marketing arena, and every seasoned marketer would agree.

A list of subscribers who are interested in what you have to say and offer is an invaluable asset, even better than a first place in the SERPS. Think about it: even if your SEO practices are nothing less than white-hat, your site might still suffer from an algo update, and you might lose most of your traffic overnight. However, a large email list will keep your business alive even without organic traffic. The larger it is, the less you need to rely on Google.

In this two-post series we will teach you how to successfully launch an e-book using an email marketing campaign with little audience. The assumption is that you already have a website with a few RSS or email subscribers (let’s say about 100), and that you are already working on an e-book with great content.

Announce it to the world

The promotion of your book will start way before it’s launched. If you just sit quiet and write and start promoting it after it’s out, you won’t go very far. People don’t know you, so why should they buy it?

For starters, create a landing page where you announce that you’re writing something about a specific topic, with a box where they can enter their email to receive updates about the launch. Start building interest by adding a preview of the different chapters and a paragraph.

Also, promote it through different means, for example via social media, or in any interaction you have via email with your readers. By doing this, you’ll start building a list of people who are specifically interested in your book. It might not be huge, but sure it will be targeted.

ABG: Always Be Giving (value)

In the meantime, create a couple of in-depth blog posts related to the topic you’re writing on, adding a box at the bottom with something along the lines of “by the way, there will be a book about this topic very soon, drop your email if you want to know more about it.” Whenever the posts are shared, this other opt-in form will also be shared.

Lather, rinse, repeat

With the strategy so far, not only will you build your email list, but credibility as well, which is another crucial part of convincing someone to buy from you. Again, keep on reaching out regularly to your list during the whole pre-launch period. There are different ways in which you can provide more value and build more interest:

  • keep your subscribers informed about the work in progress
  • give more info about the content
  • write more useful posts on the subject

And to know about out special tactic for launch day, don’t miss the second post of the series.