Niche Website Update 10 – NS3 is a Failure (So Far) and I’m Glad



niche websiteWhen last we left in Update 9, I announced at the end of the post that I had just launched a brand new niche website.  This one was going to micro-niche site meaning that it will have less than 10 pages of content.   I’ve read a number of stories now about people who have created such sites and been able to make $100 or so per month from them.  Plus 10 pages of content is extremely easy to create, upload, and then build links back to.  Seems like a sure-thing, right?

And so how’s that going?  Terrible! … and I’m happy with that.   Yeah, you read that correctly.  I’m okay with NS3 performing terribly (for now) because I’m still getting a lot of value out the experiment.  Here are the reasons why and what I plan to do about it:

 

Why is NS3 a Failure So Far?

 

A Recap of NS3:

My original intention with NS3 was to build a very small niche site.  Despite how much Google seems to frown upon them, I know some niche site developers have had some success with them and I wanted to see if I could duplicate some of that myself.  Here’s how it all came together:

  • All of the long tail keywords were all very closely related, had decent search traffic volume, low competition (Long Tail Pro scored them in the 20’s), and really high CPC.
  • The site was built using really high quality articles that are each over 1,000 words and written to proper SEO standards.  The writer I used even used to work in the same industry that the niche website targets.
  • We used the same hosting account and WordPress theme as NS2.
  • For back-linking, I’m using my normal practice of commenting, blog carnivals, and social media marketing to promote it.

 

So How is NS3 Doing?

I had planned on writing a whole case study here just like I did in Update 8 for NS2.  But truth be told – there isn’t much to tell.  NS3 is doing terrible!

Like all niche websites, it started off in the +500 spot for a few weeks within the Google search results for the main target keyword.  Then it gradually worked its way down to about spot 60.  For a while it went back up to +500 and eventually came back down to number 60 with time.

In addition to the main keyword not ranking, neither are the neighboring long tail keywords or synonyms.

Basically on all fronts this site is not appearing on the first page no matter what you search.

Should I be worried?  Not at all.  In fact, I’m glad…

 

Why Am I Happy About the Site Being a Failure So Far?

Because it taught me a few lessons:

  1. I’m glad I didn’t try to make a whole bunch of these micro niche sites
  2. I’m glad I didn’t waste a bunch of time doing keyword research
  3. I’m glad I didn’t buy a whole bunch of domains
  4. I’m glad I didn’t spend a bunch of money outsourcing dozen of articles
  5. I’m glad I don’t have to figure out why several sites aren’t ranking or making any money.

Apparently my usual tactics of content creation and back-linking are not strong enough motivators against the search engines to get a micro niche site to rank naturally within Google.  Therefore I can only conclude:

  1. That those who are ranking are using some grey / black hat techniques to make their site work
  2. That I’m better off creating larger niche websites of 20 posts or greater.

In fact on Point No. 2, I was temporary considering hiring an expert link builder when NS3 went into the +500 ranking.  But then I paused….  If I’m going to pump anymore money into the NS3 project, why not do the smart thing and buy 12-15 more high quality articles?  That would turn NS3 from a mirco niche to a small niche site.  And I’ve already proven with NS1 and NS2 that we CAN get sites of this size to rank well and make some income!

 

Other Bloggers Advocating Larger Niche Websites:

To echo that last point about how building larger niche websites or even authority sites is a better idea in today’s Google environment, I present to you two other articles from well successful bloggers.

1)      Spencer from Niche Pursuits recently published a wonderful post advocating for website developers to shoot for building larger authority sites instead of smaller ones.  His argument is that these types of sites will naturally be much more valuable to readers than paper-thin 5 post sites, and will therefore have a much better chance of weathering any Google algorithm changes to come.

2)      The Free Financial Blogger also published an outstanding editorial on what he believes the future holds for blogging and where the opportunities to produce income lie.  Again, larger niche and authority sites are part of his conclusions.

 

Plans for NS3:

So even though the logical conclusion is to build up NS3 into a large or even authority site, for now I will do nothing.  As you will read below, I am very busy and focused right now on developing NS1 and NS2 into the type of sites like Niche Pursuits and The Free Financial Blogger were describing.

I will continue to keep my VA doing his natural back-linking assignments for NS3.  But there will be no new content added until I am ready to turn my full attention to this project.

When I DO turn my attention back to NS3, the strategy will likely be to:

1) Add more content until we have at least 20 pages

2) Continue link-building

 

Niche Website Updates on NS1 and NS2:

A lot happened with NS1 and NS2 throughout September.  Here are the developments:

 

Income & Stats:

niche website

As you can see, the total income received for NS1 really picked up.  NS2 is still lagging behind, but I’m not totally sure it was all the site’s problem.  And even though NS3 is not ranking for much of anything, it still managed to squeak out some revenue.

 

Problems with Google Adsense:

Early in the month I noticed that I was only making pennies for about the first 7-10 days on all my sites.  What’s going on here?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the lower right hand corner of your Adsense dashboard there is now a “Google Scorecard” that is supposed to report when you have problems.  When Google thinks your site has issues, it will result in less favorable ads to appear on your site and lower commissions.  Apparently my sites were littered with problems because my scorecard was all kinds of red!

Niche Website

After a few tweaks of the W3 Total Cache and Permalink Finder plugins, I was able to fix all the problems.  But it took a while for Google to recognize the fixes.  So all the meanwhile I’m losing potential income!

 

Adsense Alternatives:

It didn’t sit well with me that I was potentially losing income.  And I’ve known for a while that Adsense is not the end-all-be-all for PPC advertising campaigns.  So I decided to use this opportunity to branch out.

The first place I looked was Chikita.  Chikita is a PPC service that pretty works the same way as Adsense.  It has been promoted by Darren Rowse of Problogger on his Make Money Blogging page.  Unfortunately after several weeks of testing it on my site, I received no clicks and absolutely no income.  So I dropped this one.

Around that time, I also found an income report from on Nick LeRoy where he made almost $500 using a service called Skim Links.  I checked it out and the service seems legit.  I’m now doing a litmus test on one of my sites now to see how it performs.  I’ll let you know how that goes in the next update.

 

The BIG Push:

At the end of Update 9 and later validated in the Niche Pursuits and Free Financial Blogger articles I mentioned above, it has become clear that if I want to REALLY give NS1 and NS2 a chance at becoming a super-star, money-making set of niche websites, then I’m going to have to put in the effort to build them up with quality content and relevant back-links.

That has been my main focus all throughout September with this whole niche building project.  Create more quality content!

I’ve got to tell you, though, it hasn’t been easy!  I’ve had some pretty good ups and downs which I’ll discuss further in the next two sections.

 

Was I Really Able to Get Good Posts From oDesk for $2 Each?

To sum it up = No.

Unfortunately despite using Authority Website Income Jon Haver’s exact strategy, I was not able to secure any good quality writers for that cheap on oDesk.  I even went so far as to copy and paste his entire example job posting in my real job posting.

I could write a whole post about my experience with this situation, but for now I’ll just give you the highlights:

  • No one responded to my first job post of 10 articles at $2 each.  I contacted about 20 of oDesk’s recommended writers and not one of them responded.
  • After about a week I raised it to $3 per post ($30 for 10 posts altogether).  I again reached out to a number of their recommended writers.  This time 2 of them responded.
  • The first guy I hired never responded or delivered anything after our first correspondence.  So that one was a bust.
  • The second girl I hired only ended up sending me 3 very poor to fair (if I’m being kind) articles.  And that was after heavy follow-up and even reaching out to oDesk’s help service.  Needless to say, the articles were so bad that I ended up re-writing them myself.

Now obviously I’m telling you all this for own amusement.  I’ve got a ton of benefit out of using oDesk for other tasks I need.  And this is not to say that some people couldn’t get lucky with this strategy.  Unfortunately I struck out when it came to writing.  However, I will certainly keep using oDesk for my back-linking needs.

Fortunately I’ve made a few good contacts on eLance who are willing to produce really great articles for relatively cheap.  Though it’s not $2 to $3 per article, I’m actually quite content to pay $8 to $10 per article for something that is exactly as I asked for and barely has to be touched when it is delivered to me.

Like all things, sometimes you pay for what you get.

 

The Great Content Generating Marathon:

After my attempts to find an extremely cheap writer on oDesk went belly-up, I did end up ordering almost 30 new articles for NS1 using my group on Elance. Post your job today!.  This cost me an investment of $220, which I mentioned is a fair price and well worth it if I don’t have to change a thing.

BUT then I got clever!  What’s a quick way I could make $220 on NS2?  By NOT having to outsource my content creation.

Do you follow that?  So while I’m paying $220 for articles to be written for my first niche site, I also plan to simultaneously write just as many articles myself for my second niche website.  By doing so, I’ll effectively save (or make) $220 by not having to incur that expense and do all the work myself.

Plus – it’s kind of fun!  My competitive side doesn’t mind putting myself up to challenges like this from time to time.

So if you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you’ll notice that I’ve talking about my One Post per Day challenge which is basically this challenge.

Let me tell you – I have been a machine!  Though it’s been tough, I have found a few things that have made the process a little less taxing than you’d think.

  1. First things first, before any writing took place, I did a ton of keyword research using Long Tail Pro to find the right search terms to target.  Once you’ve got the proper search term that you know you’re going to target, this makes it a heck of a lot easier to think about in terms of writing as well as research online for relative authority sites that you can link back to.
  2. About a month ago, Think Traffic’s Chase Reeves posted a quirky but brilliant short video about how to write better blog posts.  His advice was basically to start your writing with that “Aha” moment of the post, and then work your way from the middle towards the beginning and the end.  This strategy has been a huge time-saver for me, and I overall think it helps structure my writing more concisely.

 

Plans for NS1 and NS2 Going Forward:

So what are our plans going into October?

  1. Continue to produce and upload posts to NS1 and NS2.  I do not plan to stop until I have somewhere north of 50 posts total for each site.
  2. Increase NS1 and NS2’s automatic posting schedule via WordPress to post 2 times per week instead of the previous 1 time per week.  This will create a very natural posting frequency that will keep the website fresh while also allowing the content to naturally get indexed by the search engines and potentially found by readers.
  3. Continue with my current back-linking strategies.  No changes or sudden moves necessary here.
  4. Monitor the income and rankings statistics.  Ideally I should see increases in both if this process is truly going to be as successful as the bigger websites claim it will be.

 

Readers – How many of you have decided to re-think your niche website into a larger niche or even an authority website?  Do you think this is just going to be a big waste of time or a brilliant strategy towards producing a great niche website with tons of potential?

 

Previous Niche Site Chapters:

  1. Starting the Next of My Extra Income Ideas – Building a Niche Website
  2. Niche Website Project Part 2 – The Unveiling
  3. Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 3
  4. Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 4
  5. Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 5
  6. Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 6
  7. Niche Website Update 7 – Site Number 2 Launched!
  8. Niche Website Update 8 – NS2 on the First Page Search Results Already!
  9. Niche Website Update 9 – Criticisms of My Second Niche Site

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    Very interesting MMD. It has been very helpful for me to read you experience with this and it’s helping me think over what I want to do in terms of a second site. I just hired two VAs off of oDesk a few weeks ago and am starting to see a bit of time savings that’ll hopefully allow me to focus on this a bit more. I think there is the potential there, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and attack it the right way.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Solar Powered Jets, Hittler and HouseboysMy Profile

  2. says

    I have had more luck with Media.net ads than adsense. The Yahoo ads look a lot more natural. I think everyone is used to seeing Google Ads and are therefore more reluctant to click them. In fact, when I had my media.net ads up on one of my sites I made more revenue from that from one month than I did with three months Google Adsense on various sites. That might be something to look into. I tried Chikita too and for me anyway, it paid pennies. I am glad you are sharing all of this. I am going to have to read through it again and see what else I can pick up to apply to my sites. It’s so nice to see you trying this and it actually working than reading it from guys with unlimited funds and resources. Makes it seem much more realistic for me!
    Alexa recently posted..How to Write a Blog Post in Twenty MinutesMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for the recommendation with Media.net. I just went and applied to their site, so we’ll see if I get accepted or not. 3x the income is really great for you! And well worth a try.

      You’re welcome for the sharing of ideas. I get just as much from your suggestions as I put out there. And I feel the same way you do about some of the big name people. I really don’t have +$700 to invest in a website to “see if it works or not”. Unfortunately my budget is quite a bit slimmer … But if I can get my profits up there in the 4-digit range, maybe that will change!

    • says

      Thanks Holly. “Doing something” was what this whole experiment was all about. And now that I found out that micro niche sites don’t rank so easily, I won’t be doing that again!

  3. says

    Once again, tons of great detail here. Is there any chance that NS3 just needs a little bit more time and/or links? Just from my own experience it seems like time is a big factor when it comes to building search traffic, though clearly with your kind of purposeful activity it has come much quicker in the past. In any case, definitely some valuable lessons learned. Thanks for sharing.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Buying a Car: Sealing the DealMy Profile

    • says

      Good suggestion, but what it really needs is more content. I suspect that the lesson here in this experiment is that dinky 5-page sites like the one I created get knocked over really quick by Big G. As we see with NS1 and NS2, adding more quality content = more authority = better rankings.

    • says

      Definitely not the end for NS3! It’s just in a proverbial “time-out” until I can turn my attention back to it. My first plan of attack will be to purchase about 15 more articles to publish onto it. That should push the content level up to a nice safe level. Then I’ll continue to slowly build links and see where it goes.

  4. says

    I also found out that these micro sites are not for me – I also want to restart and give them one more try, but the more I read, the less it makes sense to do it. I do tend to get carried away unfortunately, and I have recently purchased a new shared hosting account for my niche sites and right now it’s just there eating money. So… it’s a good thing that you didn’t invest in more and you can move forward building up authority.
    Lucian recently posted..Can I Be a Professional Blogger?My Profile

    • says

      Yeah, I’m done with the micro niche model. I found out what I wanted in this experiment and I know NOT to go down this road again. But I do plan to salvage the site by adding another 15 pages of content to it to try to push up the authority. That plus some more linking (and time) should do the trick.

  5. says

    I’m glad you have such a positive attitude about a not so positive result. That’s really the only way to learn and change things, and like you said, the investment was minimal. I do think AdSense is not the end all be all either, and am curious what you find out from other sources.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Why Are You Still Broke?My Profile

    • says

      Thanks Kim. I can stay positive about this one because 1) I knew it was risky going in and didn’t invest a lot of money or time to see what would happen, 2) I’ve got a plan B to salvage the site when I have time for it.

      I’m interested too to see if I can use another affiliate strategy to do better than Adsense! I will definitely keep everyone posted.

  6. says

    MMD,

    It’s definitely frustrating to find good writers for cheap. The reality is, almost all writers accepting jobs for $2/article are writing for clients who don’t care about article quality. These clients are usually just using these cheap articles for link building. So the cheap writers are used to getting paid for writing low-quality articles that aren’t really meant for people to read.

    The (very) few, quality article writers who might accept a job at $2/article will not work at this rate long-term.

    If you’re already committed to establishing a profitable site, it will definitely save time to hire a quality writer who may charge something like $7-$10 per 500 word article. And of course, you could just save yourself the money by doing the work yourself.

    Anyway, good luck with your niche sites. I know it’s a tough grind, but it sounds like you’re goal is to build a quality site that lasts. And that kind of site will win in the long run.
    Jason recently posted..August 2013 Online Income Report – How to Recover From a Sudden Drop in Google RankingsMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jason. As you noticed your income report from last month was one of the ones that inspired me to go out seeking more content and possibly going the cheap writer route. Like you, I’ve had some challenges with the process. Personally I’d rather pay the higher cost to get content I know is good quality. Now hopefully I recreate your success with hitting over $1,000 in Adsense in one month!

  7. says

    I still haven’t given up on the micro-niche model completely. But I do agree that you shouldn’t plan to only build out a site as a micro site. Use it as a test, then build it out further if you see potential.

    My micro niche site experiment is actually going pretty good. I built out a site with only 4 pages of content. Did only SocialADR links for the first 30 days. Got it to rank in the mid to high 20′s (page 3 of Google). In the next 30 days, I did just a few blog comments and pointed one relevant expired domain link to it. Rankings stayed around the low 30′s (page 4 of Google). Now I’m in month 3 – I added two new articles. A few natural links are coming in, and I’m currently at #19 in Google! This site passed my “test,” so I researched some longer tail keywords and I’m in the process of ordering and posting more content now. Page 1, here I come!

    I actually tried the $2 per article experiment via Odesk for the first time just last week! I had great success… so far. I had 22 or 23 people apply for my job within just a few hours. The job stated that I would pay $20 for 10 articles (500 words each). I offered jobs to 4 of the applicants, 3 of them responded and one turned in the assignment after only 2 days! I already re-hired that person for another 10 articles. Still waiting for the articles from the other two, which are due later this week. I wonder why you didn’t have luck? Were you asking for 1,000 word articles at that rate? I also use Jon Haver’s method, but vary the wording just slightly to make it my own. Whatever I did worked and I was pleased with the quality of the content that has been delivered to me thus far.

    Great to see NS1 performing so well! Your persistence paid off. It wasn’t that long ago that you were feeling “down in the dumps” about the way that site was performing. Great job!
    Matthew Allen recently posted..Using Keyword Research to Grow Your Blog – Everything You Need to KnowMy Profile

    • says

      Nice work with getting your micro niche to rank. Whatever method you’re using must be working. For me, part of my experiment was simply finding out if my current scheme of link building would be enough or not. I guess this shows me that its not. So another potential lesson here is to step up my link building skills …

      That’s funny that you used John’s text as well. That’s what I did (with a few small minor modifications of my own). I was asking for 600 word articles. I think it was just the luck of the draw that day. The one person that actually delivered just was not up to snuff. I would have been embarrassed to publish what she sent me. But I’m glad to hear that you’ve had some good luck with this approach. I’m sure there are some good writers within this price range. I just didn’t happen to get any.

      We’ve come a long ways on NS1 since my first few updates. At that time I thought 20 posts would be the max and income was less than $100. But now I want 50 to 100 posts and over $1,000. I can’t wait until I’m finally there and finally realized “the secret sauce” for making +$1,000 revenue generating websites.

  8. says

    Ever since I lost most of my $5k/month microniche empire last year, I decided to stop building tiny sites. You can still see some profitable microniche sites on the internet, but it is my belief that these sites have a very short life span.

    You may see these sites bounce to the top spots of Google for 2-4 months, and then they’re never seen again.

    Basically they purposely backlink spam knowing that Google will eventually find and penalize the site. Depending on how strong their keyword is, they may actually be quite profitable with this. I’ve made as much as $300/month with a 3 page site.
    Josh Escusa recently posted..Niche Site Challenge with Tung Tran from CloudLivingJourney.comMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts on micro niches, Josh. It does seem like there may be some limited potential, but I’m not so sure its for me. I’d really just like to keep things and build a strong site that withstands all the possible Google updates to come. Hearing about your loss with your micro-niche empire only validates this decision and re-assures me that this is the best path to take.

    • says

      It keeps me just as interested as I’m sure it keeps all of you. Talking about my goals and working out my thoughts on paper like this really seems to help put me in a “so what do I want to do about it” state of mentality. Before it would have been all too easy to just say “give up”. But now that people are following along, it helps to keep me accountable.

  9. says

    I have really tried a heap of different things with my niche sites, varying from the complete white hat to the blackest of black hat (accidentally purchasing links on hacked websites…)

    What I have learned so far: Content is not king – no matter what google says and backlinks are everything.

    To prove my point, check out http://www.hostingdiscounted.org. It is ranking number 5 for me for Bluehost coupons. It has a total of 17 words of content…

    So far I have spent about $500 testing a few different theories, and I am starting to see some interesting patterns regarding what the official google line is and what actually works.

    In a few words – blackhat works well, very well, too well…

    I am blogging about my exploits here (http://makingmoneyonline24x7.net). I don’t post all that regularly, but it is where I am keeping track of my efforts if you are interested.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..What is the best way to invest $10,000My Profile

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts Glen. I will definitely be checking out your other site and seeing what you’ve got there.

      That site with 17 words on it is an awesome example of the flaw in the system. PR6, high SERP rankings, etc. No doubt there are still some major ways to game the rankings.

      I honestly don’t believe content is the end all be all. I would argue that good content does a better job of keeping human readers on your site and making conversions over the long run. For example I wouldn’t buy anything from that spammy 17 word site. But then again writing content alone isn’t everything. Without backlinks you won’t make it out there on the Internet. I don’t care what the guru’s say. Backlinks have been the backbone of rankings for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. And besides, how else could you measure the popularity of a site other than how many other reputable sites link back to it. In my efforts I want to make sure that I continue to do both as much as possible.

  10. Thomas says

    Nice post MMD! I kinda of pushed pause on YDF to push out some of my other money making sites. I have a few niches sites and let me tell you you’d be surprised what works these days. Smaller sites work but traffic needs to be laser focus. With larger sites you can have different topics but you need a lot and I mean a lot of traffic. Like 2-5k UV per day. I am finding all of it possible. Here’s to seeing what your niche sites bring!

    • says

      Thanks Thomas. I’m happy for your successes. I’d love to think that my sites could lend themselves to traffic that high, but it seems kind of like a daydream to me right now. But if it did, just think of the conversion prospects!

  11. says

    I haven’t done a thing to my Coon Hunters Club niche site since May. However, I just checked the analytics and my visits and pageviews have almost tripled in the last two months!! Plus readers are looking at 2 pages on average and staying on the site for nearly 2 minutes. Now I am thinking I should give this site a better chance and come up with a new monetization strategy. My ads (Adsense & Media.net) are getting clicked but don’t amount to shit. I need to come up with a good strategy. Ideas?

    • says

      That’s kind of awesome that you just let it sit and are having more visits than ever. Sometimes I think our content and links just need time to settle in before they can work properly the way we want them too. That’s why when I see articles about “reach #1 in 3 months”, I almost laugh.

      Monetization? That’s a tricky one. Is there anything on Amazon you could promote to help catch coons (through Amazon Affiliates)?

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