When 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:
- I’m glad I didn’t try to make a whole bunch of these micro niche sites
- I’m glad I didn’t waste a bunch of time doing keyword research
- I’m glad I didn’t buy a whole bunch of domains
- I’m glad I didn’t spend a bunch of money outsourcing dozen of articles
- 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:
- That those who are ranking are using some grey / black hat techniques to make their site work
- 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:
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!
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!
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?
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.
- 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.
- About a month ago, Think Traffic’s Chase Reeves posted a quirky but brilliant short video about . 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Continue with my current back-linking strategies. No changes or sudden moves necessary here.
- 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:
- Starting the Next of My Extra Income Ideas – Building a Niche Website
- Niche Website Project Part 2 – The Unveiling
- Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 3
- Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 4
- Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 5
- Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 6
- Niche Website Update 7 – Site Number 2 Launched!
- Niche Website Update 8 – NS2 on the First Page Search Results Already!
- Niche Website Update 9 – Criticisms of My Second Niche Site
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