Wondering how to build a niche website? Perfect because I’m going to show you exactly what to do from A-Z.
Here’s what you’re going to learn:
- The key difference between a niche site and an authority site
- How to find untapped niches
- My secret process for choosing profitable, but uncompetitive niches
- How to become an expert in any niche within only 30 DAYS
- The best ways to monetize your website
- How to establish a real brand so you can generate income from your niche website today (and into the future)
- How to create SEO content that ranks consistently
- The DIY content creation tools that practically create content for you
- How to acquire incredible backlinks that actually work
- And so much more!
The first thing we need to cover is the difference between a niche site and authority website.
Niche Site vs. Authority Site
Let me start by saying that every website is technically a “niche” website because you’re going to target a niche. The big difference is how you decide to target a niche.
For example, an authority site targets a larger niche. While a niche or micro niche website targets a niche within that niche.
Let’s take Gotch SEO for example.
Gotch SEO is an authority website in the SEO industry, but when you take a step back, my website is actually a micro niche of inbound marketing, inbound marketing is a micro niche of marketing, and marketing is a micro niche of business.
That means “SEO” as a topic is a micro-micro-micro-niche of business.
Now you’re probably wondering:
How do you decide what route to take?
Well, I personally think this whole discussion about whether you should create a micro-niche or larger niche website is pretty useless.
All that matters is that you find a niche that you can compete in.
If you have just a minor passion for that topic, that’s even better. It’s not necessary, but it certainly helps.
I’ll be covering how to find a niche and whether or not you should build a brand vs. a personal brand in later lessons. But for now, don’t worry about whether you’re creating a micro-niche or an “authority” website.
Just remember that the goal is to find a niche that you can actually compete in from an SEO perspective. More on this later.
Before we go any further I want to establish some expectations about building niche websites.
The first thing you need to understand is that:
What You Do Today Won’t Produce Results Tomorrow
…But it will produce results over the next few months and years. Building niche websites is a long-term game.
You will not get rich overnight using this monetization model, but there is a compound effect. Once your SEO picks up steam, the income will slowly grow. Then you’ll know how the whole system works. This allows you to use your skills and build niche-site-after-niche-site.
Or you can just continue to build and reinvest into your existing site.
But here’s the hardest part:
You will be producing content and taking all kinds of SEO actions and you won’t see results right away. THIS IS NORMAL!
Even on Gotch SEO I sometimes spend weeks writing a single piece of content. I don’t technically get “paid” while I’m producing this content.
I will drive leads and sales once I publish it because of my email list and audience on other platforms, but that’s all short-lived until the page ranks in Google.
That means that I wait 2-3 months for these pages to drive new traffic.
The point is that you have to be patient.
Just do the work and trust the process.
This particularly important for new websites that are incredibly stubborn in the beginning. You can get everything right from an SEO perspective and still not rank because your website is simply too new and not authoritative enough.
You can rank for long-tail keywords within 3-6 months, but it’s going take probably 6-12 months for a new website to rank for body or more competitive keywords.
- Think long-term about this process
- Be patient
- Trust the process
- Do the work
If you can change your mindset to think of your niche website as an investment, it makes it much easier.
Whenever you’re feeling down about the progress of your niche website just read this quote from Warren Buffet:
Now that you know the difference between niche sites and authority sites, let me show how to find niches.
How to Find Niches
The goal of this section is to build a list of potential niches that you could enter. The following section will help you narrow this list down and ultimately allow you to pick a niche.
But for now, let’s just focus on finding some possible niches for you to enter.
The first thing I like to do is think about my life in general.
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your hobbies?
- What are your interests?
- What are your skills & strengths?
- What are things that make you happy?
- What are thing that make you mad?
Now I’m going to actually do this exercise with you. Let’s start with your passions.
My passions are:
- Trying to become a better entrepreneur
- Helping as many people as I can achieve their goals
- Developing myself and trying to be better than I was yesterday
- Giving back and philanthropy
Now what about your hobbies?
My hobbies are very boring, but here they are:
- Doing fun activities with my wife and daughter
- Going to the movies
- Going to dinner
- Spending time with my dogs and taking them on walks
- Reading non-fiction books
- Watching YouTube videos
- Watching movies or TV shows on Netflix
- Watching the Lakers or NBA in general
- Playing pick-up basketball
- Weight lifting (not really a hobby, but a necessity)
The goal here is to get your wheels turning. Most of what you write down won’t qualify as a niche to enter, but it’s important just to think.
Now before I show you where to find niche ideas, I need to address a super important question:
Do you need to be passionate about the niche you enter?
The short is “No”, but it can help a ton if you at least some interest in the topic.
Let me put this concept into perspective:
I started many niche websites from 2011 – 2013 and my motive was to learn SEO and build a portfolio.
After some research, I decided to enter the “undercounter ice maker” niche. I created the site, ranked for “undercounter ice makers” and all kinds of product-related keywords, but here’s the problem:
I hated every second of it because it was the most boring topic ever.
I eventually got so bored with it that I stopped working on it. That’s when I decided to focus on the sites I actually enjoyed working on.
One of those websites was my first, which was a baseball pitching blog. I ended up selling this blog to a former MLB baseball pitcher.
The point here is that it took nearly no willpower to work on the baseball pitching blog. That’s because I was already passionate about the topic and I genuinely enjoyed writing about the topic.
On the other hand:
I needed maximum willpower to work on the undercounter ice maker website. Even when I mustered up the strength to work on it, I didn’t enjoy a single second.
My point here is that you should have some interest in the topic. Or, at least the potential to have an interest in it once you dig a little deeper.
5 Easy Ways to Find Niche Ideas
With that said, here are some places you look to find profitable niches:
1. Find Niche Ideas on Amazon
The first is good ol’e Amazon. I recommend starting with non-branded categories.
That means you should ignore Amazon products and focus on the general topics like “Home, Garden & Tools”.
Open up the first 3 primary categories in new tabs, so I’m going to explore “Home Decor”, “Furniture”, and Kitchen & Dining” for this example.
Then I’m going to hover of the dropdown for “Home Decor” and then you’ll see some micro topics.
Add all of these ideas to your list. Remember, we’re not validating these ideas yet. We’re building a prospect list.
Just keep going through all of the categories and adding the ideas to your list. The goal here is to build a list of at least 100 ideas. You can probably find more than enough ideas on Amazon, but let me show you a few other methods you can use.
2. Find Niche Ideas on Clickbank
The next method is to use ClickBank. Clickbank isn’t great for finding micro-niches, but it can give you some ideas based on the larger niches you’ll see.
Look at the categories on the left-hand side.
Then expand those categories.
Now what you need to do is take all the ideas you’ve found using Amazon and Clickbank to find sub-niches.
3. Find Sub-Niches on Quora
Just copy a topic and open up Quora. In this example, I’ll use “baseball”.
Look at the “Related” topics and add all of these to your list. Repeat this process with all your broad niche topics.
4. Find More Sub-Niches Using Answer the Public
The next method I love to use is Answer the Public. I’ll just enter “baseball” as the primary niche once again.
Within seconds, I’ve found all kinds of potential niche site ideas such as baseball cards, baseball cleats, baseball caps, baseball playoffs, and even baseball betting.
5. Find Even More Sub-Niches Using Keywords Everywhere
The final method is to install the Keywords Everywhere plugin and then open up Google.
Just enter one of your ideas and then click the spacebar.
Google suggested search feature will show all kinds of new topics and potential niches to enter.
Then you can:
- look at the ideas that the Keyword Everywhere plugin gives you
- scroll to the bottom
- or deepen your search by adding another space, entered each letter of the alphabet, or even adding numbers.
The combinations are endless.
These methods I’ve shown you will help you find hundreds of potential niche ideas.
Some other places to look for ideas include Offervault, Google’s Year in Search, social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc), Wikipedia, and even Buzzsumo.
Now that you have a nice list of niche ideas, let me show you…
How to Pick a Niche
Now I’m going to show you how to narrow your list down and then pick a niche to enter.
The most important question you have to ask about every niche idea you’ve found is:
Are people spending and making money in this market?
Let’s start with spending.
Use Google Ads Data
The first method is to use Google Ads data to give us answers. You can either log into the Google Keyword Planner or search your idea in Google and use the Keyword Everywhere plugin to see the cost per click.
For example, the Cost Per Click (CPC) for “baseball cleats” is $1.22.
When the CPC is higher, it’s an indication that:
- A) it’s a high-value niche and
- B) the lifetime value of a customer is on the high end because companies are willing to spend large amounts of money on ads.
That’s because they know their customer value and know that they can still be profitable despite what the CPC is.
For example, search “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” and you’ll see that the CPC is $51.45.
That’s because personal injury lawyers know that a single case can net them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With that said, the goal of this exercise is to simply see if companies are paying for ads in this market. If they are, it’s a good sign.
The third method is to go to Clickbank and see if there are any products being sold in your niche. Click on the “Affiliate Marketplace” and find your niche.
It doesn’t have to be the exact niche, but at least look in the larger niche you’re in. Then just look at the “Gravity” score for the list of products. This will indicate that products are being sold in this niche.
You get the point:
The goal is to confirm that businesses are spending money on ads and making money in your niche.
You can also go to:
- Commission Junction
…and OfferVault to get more validation as well.
Once you’ve narrowed your list based on potential profitability, you need to see if the niche has a strong trend pattern.
How to Confirm If a Niche is Growing (or Dying)
One of the worst things that can happen is entering a non-evergreen niche with declining search volume and interest. That’s why I generally only focus on evergreen niches or at least those that have a long time horizon.
For example, I wouldn’t consider SEO as a true evergreen niche because Google, YouTube, or any other company with a search engine could go out of business.
This is incredibly unlikely. That’s why SEO has a long time horizon.
With that said, I recommend using Google Trends to see the trend pattern for your niche idea.
Use Google Trends
Just go to Google Trends, enter your niche, and see if it’s trending upward.
Also, look at the suggested ideas below because sometimes those are attracting more attention and you may need to pivot.
The trend pattern doesn’t have to hockey stick upward, but it should at least be stable and not dramatically declining.
For example, this trend pattern for “AskJeeves” is an extremely bad one and would be one to avoid.
Use Keywords Everywhere
The next niche validation method to make sure people are actually searching for topics within your niche.
The fastest way to know is to use the Keywords Everywhere plugin.
Just enter some keywords around your primary niche and see if there is search volume.
These aren’t necessarily the keywords you’ll go after.
You just want to make sure there is a search activity because SEO is going to be the primary method used to drive traffic to your niche website.
You can also use the Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool to validate that there’s search activity in your niche.
Look for Communities
The final validation method to see if there are communities in your niche.
Just go to Google and search your NICHE + forum.
If there are forums, categories, or threads related to your topic, then that’s a good sign.
You can also go to Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or pretty much any platform and search for your topic.
Are users talking about and engaging around this topic or niche?
Just to review:
You are going to choose a niche that :
1. You already have some passion in or can develop an interest in as you dive further into the niche
2. Companies are advertising in your niche and people are buying products
3. The niche has a stable trend pattern and the interest isn’t declining
4. Searchers are looking for answers or solutions in your niche. In other words, there is search volume on Google.
5. Users on other platforms are engaging and discussing topics within your niche
These 5-step vetting criteria should help you narrow down your list to your top 5.
The next part of this process to conduct keyword research in your top 5 niches to see which one you have the best chance of winning in from an SEO perspective.
Keyword Research (For Niche Qualification)
The first thing I need to establish is that this is NOT a full-scale keyword research operation for your niche website.
I’m simply going to show how to do basic keyword research so that you can confirm what niche is best to enter.
Also, you should only go through this process with a small number of prospective niches (5-10 prospective niches is ideal).
Here’s what you need to do:
Let’s say one of my prospective niches is “baseball cleats”. I’m going to take this idea and put it into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool.
You can also use SEMRush for this same process.
There are a few elements you want to examine here.
Is there search volume for this primary idea?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to target this exact keyword phrase, but you need to know that searchers are interested in the topic. The good news is that you don’t need to guess. Just follow the search volume.
Does the keyword have variations?
The next section to look at is the keyword ideas section. It’s a good sign if Ahrefs is showing different variations and sub-topics of your primary niche.
Ultimately, this part of the process is to confirm that this niche has any search activity. That’s it.
The next part of the process is to make sure that it’s possible to actually rank.
Is the keyword “difficult” to rank for?
Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty tool is helpful for this 30,000-foot view process. In this case, a KD of 6 for a body keyword is a good sign.
Then click on a few other longer-tail keywords and see what the KD is for those.
In this case, I clicked on “adidas baseball cleats” and the KD is 0.
I would be extremely interested in this niche based on this information alone.
Keep in mind:
You’re going to be doing extensive keyword research and keyword qualification, later on, to determine what keywords to actually go after.
But for now, we’re just trying to get a general idea.
All you need to do now is repeat this process with all your prospective niches. Then, give each of your prospective niches a “Pass” or “Fail” grade based on the SEO competition.
Then once you have narrowed your list down to the “Passes”, rate those niches based on your level of interest in the topic.
Just score the niches in three different categories:
- Could Be Interesting
- Not Interested
Now, what do you don’t have the budget to invest in Ahrefs?
Here’s what you do:
Install the Keywords Everywhere Plugin and install the MozBar.
Then just enter your broad niche idea and see if it has search volume. Then using the MozBar, export the SERP results.
Then, average out of the DA of the top 10 competitors.
If the average DA is above 50, then it might be a competitive niche loaded with authority websites. I wouldn’t disqualify the niche though for this reason alone since that’s only one keyword.
If you encounter an average DA above 50 of the top 10 competitors, then repeat this process with different keywords. Especially longer-tail keywords.
If you examine 10-20 different keywords and you’re still getting DA averages above 50, then you may need to move on to a different niche.
Keep in mind:
It’s possible to beat these authority websites by having hyper relevancy and depth of content.
It’s just harder and will take longer. I would rather have you go the path of least resistance. Especially if you’re new to this process.
My last recommendation is to take your time on this step.
Do deep research and don’t settle on a niche before you’re absolutely certain you can compete in it.
How to Become an “Expert” in 30 Days (or Less)
What does it mean to be an “expert”?
In my opinion, you’re an expert in a topic once you know more than most of the population. Now, this may sound like a daunting task, but it’s surprisingly easy.
Your goal is to acquire enough knowledge about your niche to be able to produce expert level SEO content.
You don’t need to be the best in the world in the niche.
You just need to be better than average and you’ll be able to teach people.
How do you do it?
Think of these 30 days as total immersion learning. You’re trying to get a broad understanding of the niche. You may uncover some micro intricacies within your niche, but the goal is get a broad understanding.
Believe it or not, your knowledge of a niche will accelerate once you start doing research for and writing an SEO content asset.
Here’s a four step approach you can use:
Step #1 – Get Broad Knowledge
- Subscribe to the top industry blogs
- Follow the industry leading experts on Twitter
- Join groups on Facebook
- Find subreddits for your niche.
These different sources will expose you to large amounts of information about your niche. This is good.
You don’t have to understand how everything works either. You’re just getting exposure and you’ll be going deeper when you start to craft your content.
Step #2 – Discuss the Topic
If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. Asking questions is one of the most important pieces to learning.
As corny as it is, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
There are stupid people who might condescend you for asking simple questions but don’t worry about them.
I recommend asking questions on Reddit and within Facebook groups.
Step #3 – Go Deeper
The first steps will get your wheels turning, but the fastest way to learn is to seek out knowledge from proven experts (use Clarity).
Since most experts within a field are expensive to hire for 1-on-1 help, you can bypass this cost by simply buying books. Books are cheap and are the fastest way to accelerate your knowledge about any industry.
I recommend reading at least 3-5 books in your niche. Then after that, I recommend enrolling in a course taught by an industry expert within your chosen niche.
These may be harder to find depending on your niche but search through Udemy, Lynda, and even Google by such search strings like “NICHE + training” or “NICHE + course”.
Structured courses are one of the fastest ways to learn in my opinion.
Step #4 – Teach
Once you have a broad knowledge of your niche it’s time to teach it. Your knowledge of a topic or niche will accelerate faster than you ever imagined when you teach it.
Don’t worry too much about this step because this will be a focus on creating your SEO content assets for your niche website.
Also, I’ll be showing you how to conduct deep keyword research, which will help you identify topics you didn’t know existed during this knowledge acquisition phase.
That’s All It Takes!
This is really all it takes to be better than most of the world in a given niche.
Most people aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to learn a topic. That means if you do, you’ll be light years ahead of the competition.
Immerse yourself in your niche and become your ideal reader and customer.
Choose Your Monetization Path
There are many different ways you can make money from your niche website. Some are undeniable better than others. That’s what this section is all about. Let’s jump in.
The first monetization method is affiliate marketing. This is one of the most common ways to monetize a niche website and for a good reason.
The first reason why I love affiliate marketing as a monetization model is that it is truly a passive income source.
Income from Being an Ahrefs Affiliate
Visitors come to your website and you drive to your partner’s website as an affiliate.
That means whatever product or company you’re promoting is the one that’s responsible for product development, selling, customer service, and all other elements of a business.
Your only job as an affiliate is to drive traffic to your website and pre-sell offers.
Keep in mind, this model DOES require you to create content and maybe run ads, but your entire focus is on traffic growth. This is why affiliate business models are truly low maintenance because you won’t be dealing with customers.
Cons of Affiliate Marketing
While I do love the affiliate marketing model, it does come with some downsides.
You Are Not in Control
A company can lower your commissions or say your commissions aren’t valid whenever they want. THEY are in control of your income source.
This is why so many affiliate have moved on from Amazon’s affiliate program because they’ve cut commissions so much. This happens a lot.
Not only that:
Cmpanies will often delay your payments or something conveniently “forget” to pay their affiliates.
But my biggest concern I have about websites that are purely affiliate-driven is when an economic recession hits.
When companies tighten their budgets, affiliates will feel the pain because many of the programs will be cut and commissions will be reduced.
That’s why I always recommend diversifying your income sources and never solely relying on affiliate marketing.
There Can Be an Income Ceiling
The last issue that you may encounter with pure affiliate marketing is that there’s an income ceiling. There’s only so much traffic you can drive until you’re tapped out a niche.
You will eventually hit a wall and you’ll either need to modify your monetization model or create another website to push your income up higher.
Keep in mind:
Everything I’m outlining here are doomsday scenarios.
Economic recessions don’t happen often and many companies treat their affiliates well.
I just want to make sure you’re not blindsided by these potential challenges.
Here’s the truth:
Affiliate marketing is truly the best income source for beginners because you won’t have to deal with all the other facets of a business.
Instead, you can just focus on driving traffic, pre-selling, and marketing in general.
There are many ways to find affiliate programs, but a few of the best are:
1. Amazon Affiliates
It isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still an easy way to get started with affiliate marketing.
You can earn some pretty huge commissions on Clickbank if you promote the right offers. It won’t work in every niche, but it’s worth researching.
You should also check out ShareaSale, Commission Junction, Linkshare, and Offervault. You should be able to find plenty of great programs on these platforms.
If you’re entering the fashion niche, you should look at ShopSense and RewardStyle.
Last, but not least:
One of my favorite ways to find great affiliate programs is to work directly with the brand. Just use the following search in Google “BRAND + affiliate” or “Brand + affiliate program”.
Many will direct you to the affiliate platforms, but it’s worth researching.
The next monetization method I want to cover is using Adsense or ad placements in general.
Adsense (or Ad Placements)
You can either use AdSense and make money from clicks passively or sell ads on your website. The later is only possible once you have traffic, so you’ll probably need to start with AdSense.
Adsense Income from Gotch SEO YouTube Channel
Like other monetization models, AdSense comes with pros and cons.
Cons of Adsense
Like affiliate marketing, making money with Adsense has a ceiling and you’re going to need lots of traffic to make a respectable income.
The other issue is that having Ads all over your website can hurt User Experience (UX). Poor UX can negatively impact your SEO performance.
This can be avoided if:
- you’re not super aggressive with your ads
- you prioritize the digestion of your content over aggressive ad placement
The other issue with Adsense is that you’re sending people off your website.
Sure, you’re making money from clicks, but you could be missing out on the long-term, lifetime value of that visitor.
That’s why it’s really important to try to convert your traffic into email subscribers. Also, make sure you have a Facebook Pixel installed on your site so you can remarket to these individuals in the future (and get them back to your site).
Pros of Adsense
Adsense is truly the easiest way to make passive income with a website. You just slap an ad on your website and get paid whenever someone clicks it. It’s that simple.
I recommend that most beginners either start with affiliate marketing or AdSense as the initial form of monetization.
In the long-term though, you should consider creating your own product or service because then your niche website becomes a real business and your income can swell to new levels.
For example, there are many different types of product businesses.
- Create an information product
- Create your own physical product
- Dropship products
- Use Amazon FBA to fulfill products
The possibilities are endless.
Now, of course, the downsides of creating and selling your own products is that you’ll now be running a real business. That means you’ll need to handle all facets of a successful business such as marketing, sales, operations, and customer service.
It’s not easy in the beginning and requires constant learning to handle all these areas, but it’s worth it if you’re looking to take your income to another level.
Take It Slow (and Focus)!
But at the end of the day, you need to figure out what path is most desirable for you.
I use a combination of products, services, and affiliate marketing within my businesses. But I only used AdSense and affiliate marketing in the beginning.
My big takeaway here for you is to take baby steps and don’t try to do everything at once. Choose one monetization model, get really good at it, and then stack another, and another as you master each one.
Don’t feel like you’re tied down by your decision. Test affiliate marketing, test Adsense, and even test your own products. Then decide which one is best for your specific niche.
You’re not always going to get it right on the first try, but testing is the key to eventually getting it right. I can’t stress that point enough.
Test, test, and test more because at the end of the day, this just advice based on my experience and testing.
Your experience is different and how you’ll operate is totally different.
That’s why you need to conduct your own tests to figure out what works best for you.
I could create entire courses on these monetization models, but for now, start with the easiest methods if you’re new.
If you’re more advanced, then start moving into the more advanced models to take your income to another level.
Now let’s talk about your brand.
Establish Your Brand
Unlike much of the advice out there, my goal is to help you build incredible niche websites that you’ll be able to make real money from and maybe sell for a nice sum one day.
That’s only possible if you treat your niche website like a real company.
The first question is:
Should your niche website be a general brand or a personal brand?
This is one of the most challenging decisions you’ll encounter. A general brand is like BestBuy and a personal brand is like Gary Vaynerchuck. I recommend creating a general brand for your niche website.
- You need a big personal brand to use it as leverage. This won’t be the case for most people.
- It’s easier to build a company than a personal brand that revolves around a single personality.
- You can build your personal brand once you’ve achieved success with your niche site or sites
- It’s easier to sell a general brand than a personally-branded website
Now it’s important to mention that this doesn’t mean that you should hide your identity.
You, as the author and expert of your content, should be visible.
You can make your website relatable and personable without having the entire business center around you as an individual.
Now the next step is to actually brainstorm and select a brand name.
I’m going to show a few ways you can do this, but first:
Do not overthink this process.
Most brand names mean nothing when they’re unknown.
For example, would Google mean anything to you if it wasn’t the most popular search engine?
What about Canon?
Or how about Donald Trump?
These traditional and personal brand names mean nothing on their own.
They only mean something because of what they are or who they’ve become.
That’s why you don’t need to stress too hard about picking a name.
Here are a few ways you come up with a solid brand name for your niche website:
Method #1 – Create a Mindmap
Write your niche in the middle and then surround the primary idea with sub-topics.
Keep breaking it down until you find something interesting.
Method #2 – Think About How People “Feel” About This Topic
- What emotions are stirred up in your niche?
- What are customers achieving in your niche?
- What problems are being solved in your niche?
- What is the end goal for someone navigating through your niche?
Method #3 – Use Bustaname
Take some of your ideas and word and put them into Bustaname. This tool will give you all kinds of ideas.
Method #4 – Use a Thesaurus
If you’re really struggling, then go to Thesaurus.com and start gathering some ideas from there as well.
I recommend coming up with at least 20-50 quality brand names and then narrowing that list down to your top 10. That’s because some of your top 10 won’t be available for domain registration.
Use Instant Domain Search or Lean Domain Search to see if your ideas are available.
Although there are many TLDs (Top Level Domains) you can choose from these days, I still recommend trying to land a .com TLD.
That’s only because it’s still the most well-known TLD and Google seems to show preferential treatment to them.
Just look at the search engine results and you’ll see this in action.
With that said:
Keep coming up with new brand names until you find an available .com TLD.
Qualify the Domain
But before you purchase a domain, you need to use two more qualification methods.
Open up Archive.org and enter the prospective domain. Then look at the history of this domain.
Ideally, you want it to be 100% unused. If it’s been registered in the past, make sure it hasn’t been used for spam.
This will be quite obvious as you dig around.
The second qualification method is take the domain and run it through any backlink analysis tool such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Majestic.
Ideally, the website will have no backlinks. If it does, the backlinks need to be high-quality and natural.
Examine the links and if you see any blog networks or spam, then move on to another idea.
Buy Your Domain
Once your down has passed these two tests, it’s time to invest in your domain. I recommend Namecheap to purchase your domains.
During the domain registration process, you’re going to encounter a few different offers.
The first is whether or not you want private WHOIS information. Namecheap gives this to you as part of your purchase, but you’ll need to pay extra for it if you’re using GoDaddy.
But the question is:
Should you keep your WHOIS information private? That’s up to you, but if you don’t want to pay for private WHOIS you can use a PO box or an address generator.
From an SEO perspective, it looks more trustworthy to have public WHOIS. So that’s something to consider.
The next checkpoint you’ll encounter is whether or not you want an SSL certificate (Read HTTP vs. HTTPS: How Your Decision Impacts SEO).
I highly recommend adding this to your purchase because Google stated a few years ago the having or not having an SSL certificate could impact your SEO performance.
Plus, Google Chrome now labels websites as “Not Secure” if they don’t have an SSL certificate installed.
You can use Let’s Encrypt if you’re looking for a free option.
It’s a little more complicated to go this route, but it’s a solid option if you have a tight budget.
The last checkpoint you’ll encounter during this process is if you want to get hosting from which registrar you’ve selected. Namecheap offers solid and affordable web hosting.
If you want a more premium option, then check out WPEngine (this is what Gotch SEO is hosted on).
Now let me recap to make sure you have all your bases covered:
- You need to come up with a brand name and make sure the .com TLD is available.
- You need to register the domain using Namecheap.
- You need to decide if you want to pay for an SSL certificate or use Lets Encrypt.
- You need to choose a web host like Namecheap or WPEngine
The best situation is to have your domain, SSL, and web hosting all housed under a single provider. That way you don’t need to manage multiple logins and deal with other unnecessary operational headaches.
Now let’s tackle your brand’s identity.
Establish Your Brand’s Identity
At the most basic level, your brand identity is going to be your logo, your primary brand colors, your graphics, and your images.
Let’s start with your logo.
Create a Logo
If your budget is limited, then I recommend using Canva to create your logo. It won’t be original, but it can pass for the time being until you’re able to invest in a higher quality logo.
If you have a budget, I recommend using 99 Designs or Fiverr to get a logo designed.
The next decision you’ll to make are the colors you want to use for your brand.
Choose Your Brand’s Colors
For example, you’ll notice that Gotch SEO uses the same red on my website, on social media, and pretty much everywhere online.
That’s intentional because that’s our primary color.
Different colors represent different feelings.
For example, red represents intense feelings, including aggression, happiness, love, and passion. While blue can often represent calmness and peace, and can even cause the body to produce calming chemicals, it’s also a symbol that has positive meanings in the professional world.
One factor that should dictate your decision are the colors that your competitors are using.
Choose a Different Color Than Your Competitors
For example, when I settled upon the red variation for Gotch SEO that was because most people in my niche were using green, blue or orange as their colors.
Those are all the steps you need to cover to establish your brand for your niche website.
Brainstorm and choose a brand name, register your .com TLD, get an SSL certificate, setup your web hosting, design a logo, and choose your primary brand colors.
Create Your Website
At this point, you should have a brand, a domain for your brand, an SSL certificate, and web hosting. Now you need to set up your Content Management System or CMS.
I highly recommend using WordPress because it’s the most beginner-friendly and it’s optimized for SEO out of the gate (read about the best CMS for SEO). It’s also the most popular.
Let me show you how to set up your website using WordPress as your CMS.
The first step is to optimize your WordPress settings.
Go to Settings and click on General. In this section, you want to make sure that your preferred WordPress Address and Site Address are correct. In most cases, the URL will be the same in both fields.
Then click on the Reading tab and make sure that Search Engine Visibility is unchecked.
Next click on Permalinks and select “Post name”. This is the most efficient and best URL structure for SEO.
E-com websites may need more complex URLs, but in most cases, you can just use the post name option.
That’s what I personally always use.
That’s it for General settings. Now let’s go over the plugins you’ll need.
Install These 8 WordPress Plugins
First I’ll show you what plugins you need to install, then I’ll show you how to set them up.
The first plugin you’ll need is an SEO plugin. The two most popular SEO plugins are All in One SEO Pack or Yoast. You can’t go wrong with either.
Let me show you how to setup All in One SEO Pack.
Set Up All in One SEO Pack
On the left hand side in your WordPress Dashboard, click on All in One SEO Pack and click on “General Settings”.
Under General Settings make sure “Canonical URLs” is selected.
Then under home page settings fill in the your “Home Title” (learn more about title tags) and Home Description”. In most cases, this is will be a general description of your website and won’t be used to target keywords.
The next section that’s really important is the “Noindex settings” section. Make sure Posts and Pages are unchecked. Then I recommending checking and noindexing the following:
- Date Archives
- Author Archives
- Tag Archives
- Search Pages
- 404 Pages
- Paginated Pages/Posts
Noindexing these sections of your website can help prevent duplicate content-related issues in the future.
The next plugin you’ll need is Really Simple SSL.
Set Up Really Simple SSL
This plugin ensures that all pages on your website are properly secured. Once it’s installed go to Settings and click on SSL.
As long as the first four checkpoints have marked with a green check, you should be good to go.
I do recommend opening up an incognito window and testing your domain to make sure it redirects to the secured version of your website.
The third plugin I recommend is the Schema plugin.
Set Up Schema Plugin
This plugin makes it super easy to implement structured markup on your pages.
This will be important if you’re doing product reviews.
Once it’s installed, click on the settings under “Schema” and enter your details under the General and Knowledge Graph tabs.
The fourth plugin is Pretty Links.
Set Up Pretty Links
Pretty Links is only necessary if you’re going to promote affiliate offers. In short, the plugin will make your affiliate cleaner and will track click data for your links.
To create an affiliate links using Pretty Links, just click on Add New Link under the Pretty Links tab.
Then paste your affiliate URL in the Target URL and then choose how you want the pretty link to look. I use do: /recommends/OFFER.
For example, the pretty link version of my Ahrefs affiliate link is https://www.gotchseo.com/recommends/ahrefs.
The next plugin the Open Graph plugin.
Set Up Open Graph
Open Graph is what social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter use to display post information.
This plugin (which doesn’t require any set up) will relay the right information to these websites so that your posts look correct when they’re shared on social media.
Just make sure you check how your posts looks by using Facebook’s Debugger tool or LinkedIn’s post inspector tool.
The next plugin doesn’t do anything cool, but it’s called No Self Pings.
Set Up No Self Pings
In short, it prevents getting ping notifications every time you link to another page on your website.
It doesn’t require any setup.
The second to last plugin is Akismet.
Set Up Akismet
Akismet prevents spam comments on your blog and it’s very effective.
You’ll need to create an account, but it’s worth it because this plugin will stop most comment spam.
Set Up Contact Form 7
The final plugin you’ll need to install is Contact Form 7. Contact Form 7 allows you to create free contact forms on your website.
To create your first contact form, just click on Add New under the Contact tab. You can then copy your shortcode and paste it onto your Contact page.
These are bare minimum plugins you’ll need to have for a properly functioning and optimized website.
You’ll likely need or want other plugins in the future, but these are a great start. The next step is to install Google Analytics on your site.
Set Up Google Analytics
First (if you haven’t already), you’ll need to create a free Google Analytics account. Then Google will provide you with an analytics tracking code (you can always find your tracking code under “Admin” > “Tracking Info” > “Tracking Code”)
There are a few different ways to place this code on your website.
First, you can copy the UA number and paste it into All in One SEO Pack.
The other method is to place the entire code in the HEAD section of your website. You’ll need to understand how to navigate through HTML to do this correctly.
The last method, which is my personal favorite is to install the insert headers and footers plugin. Then all you need to do is copy your Google Analytics code and paste it into the header section.
You can also place your Facebook tracking pixel or whatever pixels you use in the future in this section as well.
Now let’s quickly talk about the design of your website.
Design Your Website
I recommend using a WordPress theme when you’re starting out. That’s because custom builds are a big financial and time investment and definitely not worth doing in the beginning.
You can either use free or paid WordPress themes.
For free themes, go to your WordPress Dashboard, click on “Themes” under Appearance, and select “add new theme”. Then just dig around and use the search function to find an appropriate theme.
If you want to use a paid theme, then I recommend Studio Press.
Don’t Tinker With Your Design
The one thing you need to keep in mind about the design of your site is to avoid tinkering with it too much. Slightly changing your design will have little or no impact on your SEO or business performance.
Spend more time on the high impact actions I’ll be showing you soon.
I’m saying this because it’s super easy to become obsessed with your site’s design.
But here’s the truth:
Tinkering with your design is a form of procrastination because it’s EASY.
Make your design presentable and make some changes over time, but don’t go overboard.
Now there is one more action you need to take and that’s creating foundational pages.
Create Foundational Pages
That’s all for the foundational elements of your website.
Create SEO Content
The first question is:
What is SEO content?
There are two types of SEO content.
The first is content that targets a specific keyword phrase.
For example, if my target keyword was “dog training”, then I would create a page targeting that exact keyword phrase.
The second type of SEO content is link bait.
This is a more advanced type of content and shouldn’t be your focus in the beginning.
I recommend spending 100% of your time creating keyword-targeted pages for at least the first year of your niche website before even thinking about creating link bait.
Linkbait is typically some type of asset that’s designed to attract backlinks. These assets aren’t usually keyword-targeted, but they can be.
For example, Moz’s Link Explorer is an example of linkbait.
It attracts branded searches and backlinks, but it isn’t necessarily keyword-targeted.
But for now:
Let’s just focus on keyword-targeted pages because these are the foundation of your organic search traffic growth.
Let me cover some important facts about SEO content that will help a ton:
1. A keyword-targeted page isn’t always a blog post
While blog posts are the most common way to attack keywords, it’s not always the best.
Why is that? Well, the reason is because of search intent.
In layman’s terms, search intent is a fancy way of saying what the searcher is thinking when they are searching a keyword in Google.
You must model your keyword-targeted pages to match the search intent of your keyword.
There are 4 primary types of search intent
1. Informational – These are your classic “how to” types of keywords
2. Navigational – These occur when a searcher is looking to navigate to a specific brand. For example, if they search BestBuy, it’s a navigational query.
3. Comparison – These occur when a searcher is looking to compare two different solutions. For example, they may search something like “Nike baseball cleats vs adidas baseball cleats”.
4. Transactional – These occur when a searcher is at the bottom of the funnel and likely ready to purchase a product. Some examples might be “buy BLANK” or “__ discount codes”.
Your goal should be to cover keywords at all the different stages of search intent.
But more importantly:
You should always structure your keyword-targeted page to satisfy the search intent for the keyword phrase.
For example, if someone is searching using a transactional keyword like “BestBuy coupon codes”, then your page must give them what they’re looking for.
I know this may seem like common sense, but you wouldn’t believe how often people get this wrong.
Just keep search intent in mind whenever you’re planning on targeting a keyword and analyze the search results to see what types of pages Google is serving for that particular keyword.
Then just model whatever you see.
The second fact of SEO content is that…
2. Quantity-based publishing is dead
Instead, you should focus on creating the absolute best and most helpful keyword-targeted pages.
Don’t worry about how often you publish.
Just focus on adding the most value for your target keyword and don’t worry about how long that takes you because it will pay off in the long-run.
Quantity-based publishing is a drain on resources and will ultimately lead to thin content which may actually hurt you over time.
I’ll repeat this again, do not worry about how often you publish.
Worry about how incredible and valuable each page on your website is. Live by this principle and you won’t regret it.
For example, I spend weeks developing a single blog post for Gotch SEO.
You’re not working less by doing this.
You’re just producing more behind the scenes. But when you do publish, it’s going to have a lasting impact.
Focus on adding as much value as you possibly can for every keyword you decide to target.
The third fact about SEO content is that:
3. It needs to be unique
Examine the top 10 competitors for your target keyword and try to find a unique angle that hasn’t been covered. Look for weaknesses on their pages like a lack of video, or a lack of depth.
These are all your advantages.
Let me quickly cover an effective SEO content strategy you should use for your niche website.
This may vary based on your monetization model, but it’s a good strategy for most business models.
I recommend an 80/20 split between informational and transactional SEO content.
That means 80% of your keywords should be informational and the other 20% should be transactional.
This is particularly important if you’re planning on doing affiliate marketing.
It may seem strange to focus so much effort on informational content when you’re doing affiliate marketing, but that’s actually the best way to pre-sell affiliate offers.
You add massive value upfront and then link to your affiliate product review pages as more comprehensive solutions whatever the problem is.
Another important reason to focus most effort on informational keywords is that it’s easier to attract backlinks to informational content than it is for transactional content.
Think about it:
Would you rather link to a page about “How to Plunge Your Toilet” or a page about “Toilet Reviews”?
The answer is obvious.
This slight variation in strategy is what most affiliate websites get wrong.
They focus purely on “review” based content and rarely focus on adding value through informational content.
This is a huge mistake on so many fronts. It helps to visualize this strategy by looking at a content marketing funnel.
A content marketing funnel is broken down into three sections.
Content Marketing Funnel
These three sections use the ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu abbreviations which stand for Top, Middle, and Bottom of the funnel.
All your informational content will be at the top of the funnel. Prospects at this stage are just looking for information.
Most searchers are at this stage at any given time and that’s why the cone is larger at the top.
That’s the reason why you want to hammer informational keywords more than anything else.
The next stage in the middle of the funnel.
This is often the most confusing stage, but think of it this way:
You’re trying to persuade someone to take baby steps with you.
The best way to do that is by offering a lead magnet, which is a free offer they can receive in exchange for their email address.
I highly recommend you create a site-wide lead magnet. That’s because email is the single best way to promote new content you’ll be publishing.
Read this post about how to create a squeeze page for your lead magnet.
The bottom of the funnel of (BoFu) is where all your transactional content occurs.
If you’re an affiliate website, these will be your review or product comparison pages, if you’re selling a product, these may be sales pages or testimonial pages.
Now let’s step back and see what this SEO content process looks like a 30,000-foot view.
The SEO Content Creation Process
- You’re going to create a page or blog post targeting an informational keyword.
- You’re going to create a site-wide lead magnet that will convert a percentage of people that digest your informational content.
- You’re going to create transactional content that you can promote within your informational content and through email.
- You’re going to continue creating new informational content and promoting it using your email list.
- You’re also going to need to acquire backlinks to your keyword-targeted pages, but your email list is the best way to get eyeballs on your new assets as fast as possible.
Understanding the concepts within this lesson is fundamental to your niche website success and all your future online business successes.
I recommend reviewing this lesson as many times as you need to fully understand.
DIY Content Creation Tools
These tools are important if you’re creating the content yourself and they’re also useful for structuring content that you plan on outsourcing the writing for as well.
First, I always use Google Docs to create content. Since it’s on the cloud, you can have multiple people collaborate on the doc and you can also write the content on any device.
The second tool I use religiously is Answer the Public.
Answer the Public
This often used for keyword research, but I actually use it for developing a structure for my SEO content.
For example, let’s say you wanted to rank for the keyword “dog training”.
You then dig around what ideas that Answer the Public supplies you to find possible sections for your content.
Some of the results may be better suited for its own individual page, but an idea like “how dog training works” is a perfectly relevant topic to cover for a “dog training” page.
I try to extract as many ideas as I can from Answer the Public and then use that as my guide for creating the asset. Just avoid going off-topic.
There are many ideas here, but something “pigs can fly dog training book” isn’t relevant to the primary keyword phrase. Keep it tight and relevant.
Grammarly and Hemingway Writer
The third and fourth tools I use religiously are Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor tool.
I recommend using both to make your writing better and more efficient.
The fifth tool you can use is Canva. Canva is the easiest way for the average person to create graphics for your content.
QuickTime, Zoom, Voice Memos, & iMovie
If you’re planning on producing video content, then the cheapest way to do it is use QuickTime or Zoom, Voice memos on your phone (using a lav mic), and then you could use a free video editing software like iMovie.
Editing your own videos is extremely time-consuming, so I only recommending doing it in the beginning if you have a tight budget.
But as soon as you have a bigger budget, you should hire a video editor because it saves you a ton of time.
That said, keep this one thing in mind:
No one or no tool is going to create the content for you.
At the end of the day, you just need to sit down (or stand), put your fingers on the keyword and start typing.
If you have the budget, then outsource the writing.
But if you’re doing this yourself, then you just need to do your research, outline your content, and start writing.
It’s that simple.
Don’t overthink it and don’t forget that you can always upgrade and improve your content in the future.
Need more backlinks? Try these 7 untapped link building techniques.
Let’s cover some facts about link building.
First, you’ll need links from other high-quality and relevant websites for your niche website to perform well in Google. It’s possible to rank for extremely long-tail, low competition keywords, but in most cases, you’ll need backlinks.
The key is only to focus on the best opportunities. That means like your SEO content creation, you should focus on quality over quantity.
Quality links are those that come from relevant, real websites and are editorial in nature.
The only way to acquire these types of links is by reaching and building relationships.
Another important factor to consider is that you’ll need to push harder to get backlinks when you’re website is new. However, once your pages are ranking for their target keywords, you’ll actually start to acquire backlinks naturally.
Then, you’ll encounter what I like to call the snowball effect.
That means your website will continue to acquire backlinks naturally and through your outreach efforts, which makes your website more authoritative and ultimately helps you rank for your current and future target keywords easier.
SEO gets much easier when your website authority is built through link building.
Here are a few link types that are the easiest to go after when you’re starting out.
Use Guest Posting
The first is guest posting.
All you need to do is find opportunities, reach to the qualified opportunities with 3 guest post ideas, then create a super valuable piece of content for their website, and lastly inject links to your informational content within the body of the guest post.
Some websites will get sketched out if you try to add links in the body of the content, but there are a few ways around this.
First, link out to other content assets on authoritative, trusted websites in your niche. Then, when you want to link out to your content asset, just make sure it’s surrounded by other quality external links.
I recommend only placing one link in the body and then you’ll also get a link in your author bio which will go to your homepage.
Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
The second best way to get links quickly is through Help a Reporter Out or also known as HARO. Sign up for HARO and review the pitch emails daily to find opportunities.
When you find relevant opportunities submit a detailed, high-quality response. While quality is important, landing links via HARO is a number and consistency game.
Here’s the live link from this response
When your website is new, you’ll need to hustle for links, so that’s what using HARO is all about. You can tone down your HARO actions once you start acquiring more backlinks naturally.
The third fastest way to acquire backlinks is through resource pages.
Use Resource Pages
Just search queries like “YOUR NICHE + resources” to find these opportunities. Then you’ll want to find leverage and see if the page as any broken links.
If it does, you can use it as leverage in your outreach. If it doesn’t, then you’ll just have to ask if they’ll include a link to your resource.
What matters here is the quality of the resource you’re pitching.
So many SEOs and link builders get wrapped in outreach email templates and other silly tactics.
Listen to me carefully:
Your outreach can be terrible, but if your content asset is incredible, they will likely link to it.
The opposite isn’t true.
For example, if Frank Kern wrote your outreach email, but the content your pitching sucks, it won’t convert and you won’t get a link.
Effective and successful link building is predicated on the quality of your website and the quality of your content.
Get that right before you even think about promoting anything.
That was a lot, but I hope it gave you enough information to start and grow your own niche website. Have questions? Please leave a comment below because I respond to every single one.
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Thanks for reading.