In this lesson you’re going to learn the basics of how to choose a profitable niche for your website, it will include methods on how to reverse engineer websites which are already making money to ensure that once you rank you can make a good return on your investment.
For the most part this will be focusing more on amazon affiliate sites in this article as if you are working for a local client it will be variations of their keyword + location and expanding on these locations.
Table of Contents
Choosing a niche
When choosing a niche, especially if it is your first site I highly recommend that you choose a niche that you are passionate about at least to some degree. This is because it makes writing about the topic so much easier and generally you will be more engaging to the audience if you have some background knowledge. If this is your first website and you don’t have much money to invest I would rather you wrote the content yourself and invest that money into things that increase the ranking of the site (e.g. backlinks) as opposed to spending the money on content and not having enough left over to rank the pages.
If money (or severe boredom) isn’t a worry you can always just look for the most profitable niche you can find and have content written about that but the most obvious niches are usually very competitive and this is something to take into account.
I am going to very briefly touch on competition analysis before we get onto choosing a niche. I am very much subscribed to the idea that backlinks (and traffic) are king when it comes to ranking. Therefore, before entering a niche I will download the first 100 URLs that rank for the main money keyword. An easy way to do this is download the moz toolbar and then go into your search settings on google (google -> settings -> search settings) and set the result per page to 100 as you can see below then use the moz bar to export the SERP to CSV. Some might say that 100 is overkill (and often it is and I’ll only use 30) but in super competitive niches I was advised by James Gregory to start with the top 100 and it really can’t hurt to have more data.
From here we will import these URLs into a tool like ahrefs, majestic or a bulk domain analyser and begin to look at the amount of backlinks and referring domains these sites have. If possible it is great to look at the pattern over time as I was advised before to do by Jason Duke. But if this is your first site don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate for months. What we want to look at is how many backlinks and referring domains the top sites have. If the top sites have 200 referring domains each and grow at a rate of 10 referring domains per month if you are starting from a fresh domain you going to have to out do their link velocity to catch up (in theory, in practice you may not need as many backlinks as them but you also might need more).
Using this example, let’s say you build 15 links a month as you can see in the picture to the left.
the breaking point is 43 months. Meaning if they carry on at the same rate of gaining 10 referring domains per month and you build 15 referring domains per month it will take just over 3.5 years to catch up with them. So if you were entering this niche and your cost per backlink was let’s say $50 each you would have to be able to afford 15*50*43= $32,250 in backlinks to catch up with them.
Although in my experience and having spoke to a lot of other SEOs the raw amount of backlinks isn’t always the best way to determine the competition, as this doesn’t take into the account of the strength of the backlinks so I may remove all backlinks below trust flow 15 for example. Also as SEO moves forward it seems that relevancy and natural placement of backlinks is becoming a big component of ranking, this is very hard to measure quickly when analysing competitor sites. It also does not take into account competitors on-page SEO, or how much traffic a competitor is getting. SEO is massively multifaceted so use this method as a quick evaluation but understand that the only way to truly know is to get stuck in, build links and see how your site reacts.
When choosing a niche there are a few methods I will usually look at for inspiration.
The Flippa Method
Flippa is a site where you purchase and sell online businesses, it is probably the biggest website marketplace currently. If I was looking to make a new amazon affiliate site but wasn’t sure what niche to choose, I’ll head over to flippa and make use of their search tools. So I’ve established I want it to mainly monetise with amazon’s affiliate programme (though this may not be the best choice but more about this in other lessons) but I can’t decide on a niche. The first thing I’ll do is use their website search, usually with the following settings.
This will bring up some results of sites earning over $100 using amazon as the primary source of monetisation. From here I’ll have a scan and see if any results stand out, so for me I studied sport science and have a keen interest in fitness so these sites caught my eye.
From here I’ll have a read of the description, make sure a good amount of the traffic is coming from organic search and have a look at the financials. I’m not too worried if the financials aren’t great at this point, I’ll keep some notes in a word document and move onto the next stage with the most promising options. For this next stage you’ll require a keyword research tool the one I would recommend if you can only afford one is ahrefs but I do understand their pricing can be quite restrictive when beginning SEO so SEMRush will suffice.
Garagegympro.com looked promising so we’ll search it in ahrefs and from there I am most interested in its organic search rankings (we’ll get onto competition analysis later). It gets an estimated 1,600 visits per month.
When you look at the full report it shows you a lot of information the ones I like to look at are the search volume, current rankings and the percentage of traffic which comes from this keyword.
The search volume is quite self explanatory, you want to ensure that there is a decent amount of volume for the main buyer terms, for example in this case it included ‘best power rack’ and ‘power rack reviews’ an acceptable amount is a variable amount depending on the niche.
For example, a power rack may cost anywhere between $300 and $1,500 so the minimum payout (product price multiplied by affiliate percentage) is $13.50 but the maximum is $67.5. Then I will group the keywords together, for this example I’m just going to use ahref’s traffic potential estimate.
The total potential here is 2700 which is the estimated traffic you will receive if you rank first for the parent topic.
From here let’s assume that 1 in 20 people will purchase (this varies hugely depending on the content quality and the product) with an average purchase of somewhere around $500 on amazon with a 4.5% affiliate commission rate. This would mean that 135 people (2700*0.05) would purchase the product through your affiliate cookie, with an average affiliate payout of $22.5 ($500*0.045). Therefore each month this page could potentially earn you $3037.50 per month (135*$22.5). Affiliate sites often flip for between 25 and 30 times their monthly revenue with brokers like empire flippers so this site could potentially be worth $75,000+ for ranking first for this one set of keywords.
Remember this is literally just for one keyword grouping, it doesn’t take into account if you tried to make an authority site covering other topics such as dumbbell reviews, cardio machine reviews and so on, but it is already showing potential to be a good earner.
The current rankings can give you an indication on the level of expansion this site could have. For example if the site on flippa is ranking first for the majority of keywords and is only showing profits of $150 a month you may want to consider a different niche as for most people they want to expand their affiliate sites to at $1,000 a month minimum.
If I was using flippa for my niche ideas I would probably start researching at least 5 different sites in niches that I am interested in and choose the most promising.
Looking at your search history
I don’t know about you but personally before I buy an item I spend a lot of time researching which one to get, which has the best features, the best price etc. This can be valuable for choosing a niche (as well as creating the content for your site). One SEO I know uses this method almost exclusively for creating his affiliate sites (his portfolio of sites is probably worth 7 figures now). Whenever he is making a purchase for his family which requires him to research into which brand or model is the best he notes it down and at some point will do keyword research to see if it is a viable affiliate site.
Above is some of my search history when I was looking for a new heart rate monitor recently, if you keep your search history you could come up with some inspiration for niches by searching terms like ‘review’ or ‘best 2018’ depending on what you or your family search when looking for items. I just did this myself and here are some ideas which came out of it, heart rate monitors, camera bags, power banks and SD cards. Not all of these will be winners but often you can get some inspiration from your search history and often you will realise that the source of your information was an affiliate site. It can also be useful to look at your family / friends search history (with their permission) because without realising it a lot of us are probably using search parameters that the general public aren’t using.
But I must agree with Matt Diggity who recently said that you should sow as many seeds as possible as some sites you expect to do great might not make as much as you expect (for example, I have seen first hand some tech niches don’t convert well even after lots of A/B testing) but other sites will be home runs. These home run sites will cover the expenses of 10 sites that didn’t make it. Obviously when beginning you may only be able to focus on one site but remember that previous failure (if your site doesn’t workout) does not predict future outcome and that one site could make you hundreds of thousands.
Choosing a domain
When choosing a domain there are three main options:
- Exact match domains e.g. bestpowerrack2018.com
- Partial match domains e.g. powerrackhub.com
- Branded domains e.g. hulks.com
So which one should you choose for your website?
It depends, each type has its own benefits and challenges.
Many SEOs are still using exact match and partial match domains with good effect, especially if they’re hoping to rank quickly. But in my opinion you need to consider you end goal with the site as well, if you’re hoping to flip the site for profit you may be better with a branded domain, if you want to rank and bank an exact or partial match might be best for you.
When working with exact match domains (to some extent partial match) you have to remember that it is easier to over optimise the site which will negatively influence your sites rankings. But this can be avoided by paying attention to you on-page SEO, using synonyms etc.
The real advantage of using a branded domain is it is easier to expand your site into other areas without any difficulties. An example of this would be https://10beasts.com/ a site where they started off with computer peripherals but have expanded into other areas such as crossbows and electric razors. If you start off with a domain like www.best4ktvs.com you may be limiting yourself, as once your site is ranking well for 4k TV terms it would seem strange to cover a different item. Whereas, if you used a domain like www.techcruncher.com you could rank for 4K TV terms and then move onto other areas such as headphones or android TV boxes without any disconnect to the domain name. Talking to a few other SEOs they have noticed that brandable domains also sell for more at auction, which is something to consider.
Now onto the next lesson where you will learn about website hosting.
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