Pat Flynn recently announced that he had chosen a niche and keyword to target as part of his Niche Site Duel 2.0 challenge. Pat’s site is going to focus on food trucks, and his goal is to build a killer resource for anyone looking to get into the food truck business. After doing a good deal of keyword research I’ve also decided on a niche to target.
I’m not planning on sharing the specific niche or keywords I plan to target but I will give you some information on how and why I chose them.
The site will be based on a topic that I already know fairly well. I’m not an expert on the subject but I would say I know more than the average person. I’m also interested in learning more about the subject which means I’ll have plenty of content to write about. Each time I learn something new I can simply pass that new information to my readers with a new article or series.
Not everyone focuses on their personal interests when choosing a niche. Some people can create compelling content on any topic and their interest will never falter as long as they see some money coming in. That’s really cool if it works for you, but it hasn’t worked at all for me in the past.
I once owned several sites on topics that didn’t interest me at all and though they were profitable for a short time I just couldn’t keep up the momentum and they simply faded away as I lost interest. Maybe I’ll go into more detail and use one of those actual sites as an example in a future post.
Keyword and Niche
The seed keyword for my new site receives 65,000 local searches each month. It would be next to impossible to rank for it as the competition consists of high-authority sites that are firmly entrenched in the top 10. Rather than trying to tackle them head on I simply dug a little deeper and found a three-word variation which has much less competition.
The keyword phrase I’m targeting receives 5,400 searches per month which would mean a decent amount of traffic if I can get into the top five. Of course, that doesn’t include all the traffic from long-tail keywords that have little to no competition at all.
The niche is also evergreen, and that was an important factor because I’m looking for a site that will generate a reliable stream of income as opposed to one with giant peaks and valleys.
I wasn’t able to get an exact-match domain but I did come pretty close. I just added a short word to the keyword phrase and the .com was available. Exact-match domains aren’t as powerful as they once were so I’m not really worried about that anyway.
Analyzing the Competition
I’d like to focus attention on the sites ranked 2 and 5. Just glancing at the numbers from Long Tail Pro you can see they have relatively low Page Authority and neither have a lot of links pointed at them. Number 2 is the home page of an exact match domain with a .org extension which has certainly helped its rank. The content on the site itself is pretty thin and when I use the site: command in Google it shows only 10 pages are in Google’s index. If you subtract out filler pages like About and Contact, there’s really only 5 pages of actual content. I will have no trouble at all creating a site that is both more visually appealing and more useful to visitors.
The site ranked fifth is slightly bigger with 29 pages indexed, but once again the content is pretty thin. The home page is targeting the seed keyword and is nowhere to be found in any search results. The page I’ll be competing with is one of the main pages on the site and is optimized for the same keyword I’m going for.
The rest of the top ten sites are much stronger and have lots of sites linking to them. But before we go any further, let’s take a look at the same competition results from Market Samurai.
The first thing you should notice is that there are only 9 results showing. This isn’t the top 9…it’s actually a list of the sites ranked 2 through 10. I’m not sure why the first site is missing, it could just be a glitch, but it is something to be aware of. Just remember that the list here is actually identical to the one from LTP with the exception of the first result.
The number one site here is actually ranked second in the real world. The first and fourth sites here are the same pages as the ones I described above as thin on content and backlink power. If you look at the chart you’ll see that those are the only two with red lines on the right under Title, URL, Description, and Header. That tells me that these are the only two sites that are really targeting the same keyword as me.
The other pages do speak about my keyword, but it isn’t their main focus. For example the number 3 site in LTP has a domain authority of 90 and that’s really impressive. That page is a very extensive Wikipedia entry that discusses various topics of the insanely competitive seed keyword I mentioned earlier. My keyword of choice is one sub-heading on that page.
To summarize, when I analyzed the top 10 search results for my chosen keyword I noticed that two sites had fairly low page authority and not much link juice. Their content is also pretty thin so it is obvious they got their ranking by specifically targeting the keyword and in one case using an exact match domain.
Of the remaining sites, many have very high authority. Most of them have quality content but it is more general in nature and not strictly focused on my exact keyword and niche.
I think this presents an opportunity. By using an almost exact match domain, creating superior content that really helps the reader, and staying laser-focused on my target keyword I believe I can bump my way to the top of the rankings and drive some steady organic traffic back to my site.
Of course, being able to rank for a keyword is only half the battle. There’s little point in working hard to earn a top ranking if you can’t make any money off it. There are a few things I considered when deciding if this was a niche worth going after.
AdSense Average Cost-Per-Click (CPC). The easiest way to monetize a site is Google AdSense. Just insert a few lines of code onto any webpage and targeted ads automatically appear. Each time a visitor clicks on one you earn money. The average CPC for my keyword is only 54 cents, which isn’t great. But the number of searches it receives is pretty high so I’m hoping to make up for it in volume.
Plus, this will get me in the door and ranking for a sub-section of a much larger niche (the seed keyword). That niche is huge and if I can build a useful and valuable resource that really helps people I will eventually start ranking for all sorts of other keywords too.
Potential Affiliate Programs. I’m going to try running some AdSense ads on the site but with a low CPC and not a ton of advertisers I wouldn’t expect it to be a big winner. But there are other ways to monetize besides AdSense. Between Amazon and some other merchant programs, this niche is bursting with products to promote including physical products and accessories, books, clubs and digital products. Some of them are high-end and come with hefty commissions, though the average product is quite affordable.
Private Advertising. Private ad sales can be very profitable and are definitely worth considering as you plan your monetization strategy. I didn’t notice any private ads on the other sites that are ranking for this keyword so this may not be an option unless the site really grows and gets ridiculous traffic.
Product Creation. With affiliate marketing you earn a percentage of each sale you refer to the merchant, but when you create your own product you get to keep it all for yourself. My long-term plan for this niche includes creating a “beginner’s guide” to sell as an ebook.
My analysis of the top 10 competing sites shows that 2 sites are weak in content but still managed to rank simply by optimizing specifically for the keyword. The other 8 are generally stronger in terms of content (though not all of them) but they are targeting other keywords. They achieved their rank more because of the general strength of their overall site and backlinks.
I believe there is an opportunity to step in and build a site that can rank fairly easily.
In terms of monetization, Google AdSense is a possibility but the CPC and number of advertisers is a bit low so I wouldn’t expect a huge windfall. However, there are plenty of affiliate programs to promote and I can even create a digital product of my own to sell once I’m getting enough traffic to justify it.
I’ve already registered a domain, set up hosting on my Bluehost account, installed WordPress, and set up the basic framework of the site. My next niche site update will discuss how I go about setting up the site and getting some backlinks. I’ll also start tracking where I rank for the main keyword and update that regularly along with any revenue the site generates.
What do you think about my competition analysis? Is there anything else you’d like to know about why I chose this particular niche?