As you might recall, about a month ago I set out on a challenge to focus on one project for 31-days. The idea was that I would eliminate some of my larger distractions and really kick my productivity into high gear.
I originally gave myself the option of doing two projects (one for the first half of the month, one for the second half), however I decided to just focus on one project for the entire month.
Overall, it was a success, and I wanted to share with you the details of what I created.
First off, I’m not going to reveal the URL of the site (yet). I haven’t decided if that’s something I want to do with this site, because I know if it ultimately starts earning a decent income, copycat sites will emerge. While I’ll be transparent about everything else, I don’t want to kill this project before it gets “off the ground” by inviting new competition.
The Niche and Keyword Stats
Without actually revealing the keyword, I figure I can still reveal everything else to give you an idea of the kind of niche site I’m building.
The broad niche is technology. I’ve created sites in the technology niche in the past, and have found that they can be competitive. The key is to find keywords that don’t have the top rankings saturated with e-commerce product pages (such as Best Buy or Amazon), because these can often be difficult to outrank.
The keyword I selected receives approximately 4,400 exact match, local searches and 8,100 exact match, global searches per month.
I don’t have an exact match keyword domain, however I do have the keyword + a short suffix as the domain (and it’s a .com domain).
Here’s a look at the top 10 ranking pages for my keyword (with the sites blocked out, for obvious reasons) so that you can see what type of competition I’m up against. (This screenshot is taken from Long Tail Pro, where I do my keyword research and analysis).
There are several things I like about this keyword:
1) 7 of the top 10 pages have less than 5 “Juice Page Links” – What this means is, most of these pages have very few strong backlinks.
2) 7 of the top 10 pages either have 0 PageRank or no PageRank - This isn’t as much of a reliable measure as it used to be, but this gives further indication to how weak the pages are.
3) Only 2 of the top 10 pages are e-commerce sites – Because my site is based on a certain type of technology product, it’s important to me that I don’t have to outrank sites that actually sell the product.
4) Only 3 of the top 10 pages have the target keyword in the domain. - This makes it more likely that the other sites aren’t specifically targeting the same keyword as me.
There are also a couple things that worry me about the keyword:
1) Only 4 of the ranking pages have very weak Page Authority (a way to measure the overall strength of the page’s ability to rank) – I consider anything 30 or less to be very weak, and in this case, there are only 4 pages like that (6 are under 40, however).
2) The #10 ranking site (that has 100+ juice page links and a 39 Page Authority) appears to be a niche site targeting a similar keyword as me. I do think I can outrank this site over time, but it’s always a concern that someone who has already put in the effort is only ranking #10. It’s important to note that this site doesn’t have the same exact keyword – it’s a three word keyword, and this site’s third word is a synonym of the target word. I’m not sure how this would affect the ranking.
Content Creation & Monetization
The site currently has 9 pages of content – the main page is 1000+ words, and each supporting article (targeting various related long-tail keywords) is 500-700 words long. I plan on adding another 10 or so pages over time before deciding if I want to keep growing the site.
I’ve outsourced all of the writing to textbroker.com, and have spent the extra money to make sure each article’s quality is at least a 4-star rating. I’ve also done all the proofreading myself to make sure everything looks good.
As you probably guessed, the site is monetized with Amazon’s affiliate program.
SEO and Backlinks
So far, I haven’t done much here. I’ve manually written about 20 comments on blogs in the same niche – about 75% of these comments link to the main page of my niche site, while 25% are to other articles on the site.
I haven’t used my keyword as my anchor text in the blog comments – only my name, or the site’s name (i.e. what Google would view as the “brand”).
In addition, I wrote an article on a Web 2.0 site linking to my site, and purchased a Fiverr gig to build various backlinks to that article. I wanted to make sure I keep some distance between my site and backlinks that could be potentially harmful (you don’t always know what you’ll get on Fiverr, considering it only costs $5).
I also purchased a Fiverr gig to send “social signals” to my niche site – in other words, the content was shared on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I don’t believe this type of activity can be harmful to your site (however the benefit may be minimal).
I’m going to see where this type of SEO work gets me before I take it to the next level. I eventually plan on hiring a VA or professional backlinking service to build some better quality links (this is often a bit more expensive).
Rankings and Traffic
The site is barely a month old, so there hasn’t been a ton of movement yet. Here’s the timeline and my change in rankings on Google on each date:
- May 25 - First page of content published (no ranking yet)
- May 27 – Site indexed in Google (no ranking yet)
- June 3 - Ranked #55 on Google
- June 10 – Ranked #25 on Google
- June 16 – Ranked #113 on Google
It’s very common for young sites to jump around like this, so I’m not worried that the rankings got worse recently. The site has been receiving 1-5 visits per day from Google – it’s nice to see a little bit of traffic when the site is so young and not yet ranking well.
The Costs (So Far)
To give you an idea of how much I’ve spent on this site so far, here’s a breakdown:
- Domain = $0.99 (GoDaddy, with coupon code)
- Hosting = $0.00 (I already had an account with BlueHost, so it cost me nothing extra to add a new site)
- Keyword research = $0.00 (already own Long Tail Pro)
- Site Theme = $0.00 (using a free theme)
- Plugins = Free, or using ones I purchased in the past (you can see the list of plugins I’m using here)
- Content = $92.52 (from Textbroker, as previously mentioned)
- SEO = $10.00 (two gigs from Fiverr)
- Logo Design = $5.00 (from Fiverr, and actually pretty good for $5)
- Total = $108.51
I’m prepared to spend about another $100 on content, and possibly around $200 on backlinking. That would put the total cost around $400, which was the most I wanted to invest in this site.
It may seem like a lot, but if I could get the site to the point where it earns $100-200/month, I would make back my initial investment very quickly. Obviously, there’s no guarantee of that, so it’s a risk I’m taking.
I’m happy I was able to focus on this site for a month, and I feel like I’ve gotten it close to the point where I just have to wait and see how things progress. Adding additional content or paying for advanced backlinking services won’t require too much time or effort on my part (because I’m spending the money to have other people do it).
What do you think so far? I feel like this has been a pretty standard niche site building process, but I’m curious to see what you think, and hear about what’s working for you on your niche sites.
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