I’m Brett, the creator of the Niche Laboratory keyword research tool.
I’ve had years of experience doing my own keyword research. This mainly comes from back in 2010 when I started building vast numbers of micro-niche sites. I even bought a couple off of Flippa, just to see if it would be a worthwhile investment.
Just lately I have heard a lot of people on the Warrior Forum and elsewhere moan about how micro niche sites don’t work any more. In fact Spencer from Niche Pursuits seems to have changed direction somewhat and is moving away from what I would call traditional blog-type micro niche sites and into the drop-shipping-with-Amazon line of business.
So why do so many commentators say that niche websites are dead?
Maybe because they have Google Analytics charts like this:
This chart clearly demonstrates the rise and fall of the micro-niche site. I was a bit late to the party with this site, but if you were in the game back then 2009-2011 and you had some good niches to write about then you could make a killing (as I did). I took my AdSense income from $100 to $1000 a month in just 6 months.
So you can imagine my anguish when my site went from 460 user sessions in July 2012, to less than 100 in October the same year. That’s around an 80% drop in traffic (and income!!!).
But wait a minute…
That chart ends in early 2014.
What happened since?
Here’s a longer chart of user sessions:
Back from the dead, baby!!!
And not just back from the dead, but positively booming. I was pleased with the 2012 peak of 460 user sessions, but in December 2016 the site hit 1575 user sessions – a staggering 342% increase.
So this chart would appear to be good news for those of us who still believe in niche sites, because news of their demise has been greatly exaggerated!
So why did my site come back from the dead?
Here are the two golden rules, which I consider the Ying and Yang of niche site building:
(+) Add Quality Content – Users (and Google) Love It
A hugely positive step I took in 2014 was to add a few new original articles to the site. It’s in a travel-related niche, and the previous year I’d actually gone to visit the country I was blogging about. As a result I had a whole load of original photos I could add to the site, plus I was bursting to the seams with new article ideas.
(-) Bad Content is Like a Vampire!
I am now convinced that a huge mistake I did was to put bad content on my niche site. I had a few HubPages that got unpublished due to being flagged as having quality issues. I didn’t want to lose the content, so I deleted the HubPages and republished the content on my niche site instead.
I think this cost my site dearly as I believe bad content doesn’t just have a neutral effect on your site, I believe it has a hugely negative effect.
Well we know this to be true due to the effects of the Google Panda update.
I haven’t really kept up with what Google has done with their various updates since 2012, but I do believe they’ve got a lot better at identifying quality content.
Improving My Niche Site
In mid-2017 I had a bit of spare time so I made some improvements to this site.
The main improvements I did were:
- Changed the WordPress template.
- Added a fun interactive tool for visitors to play with.
- Added 3 new articles.
I would say that yes it’s a hassle but NEVER rule out changing your WordPress template! Things change, and so should your site.
The main thing I did was to switch to a mobile-friendly template. This has made a big difference. According to Google Analytics something like 80% of my site’s visitors were using mobile phones and tablets. It says something that visitors interacted with my site even though it looked so rubbish on a smaller screen!
And the results of the mini-makeover?
After 6 months I’m please to report that I have:
- Increased page views per session by 28%.
- Decreased bounce rate by 12%.
- Increased page views by 35%.
So I have really cemented the future success of this site by spending less than a week on a few minor improvements.
If I had more time then I would do something I’ve never really tried before – improve existing articles. If I doubled the length of my top 5 articles, imagine how much more traffic I could suck in!
Hmmmm, I must remember to give that a go.
What Would I Do Today?
Is it worth starting a niche website today?
In fact I have bought a couple of new domains this year. I’ll even be fully open with one of the micro-niche sites I’m building – it’s here. I’ve nothing to hide with this site as it’s in such a big niche (clothing) that I have nothing to fear from you guys.
Also remember that new niches appear every day. The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Pokemon. All these gigantic and hugely popular niches have appeared since I graduated from University. In fact the job (and niche) I now do (website development) didn’t actually exist when I started my University degree!
Over the years I’ve owned sites in a wide variety of niches. Niches I have done especially well in are those in which I’m not an expert but I have had to get up to speed really quickly. These niches are really good to write about because you’re able to ask (and hopefully answer) the exact same newbie questions as others interested in the niche will ask.
To be a bit more specific, a great example is if you were buying a property to renovate. This is a huge niche full of nice, evergreen topics to write about. As well as renovating the property, blog about your daily experiences and remember to take plenty of photos (and videos). Then when your site gets some visitors, engage with your visitors by adding a forum.
So I hope this article helps convince you that niche sites ARE NOT DEAD!
Far from it.
P.S. Here’s an article about an experiment to resurrect an old niche site I own. Maybe you can do the same with one of your sites?
How are YOUR niche sites doing? Have you had any come back from the dead? Have you had any success lately? Post your comments below. And remember, the Niche Laboratory is always there if you need to do some niche research.
Happy site building!