It has been two weeks since I published the announcement of my participation in an Amazon based “niche site duel” that myself and 11 others are running. In that first update, I walked you through the process of how I found my niche idea, and through the process of getting the new site up and running.
I’ve been busy these past 2 weeks, and thought it was time for another update. Here’s Building a Niche Site, Update #2 …
Building a Niche Site Update #2
My primary focus on my new niche site over the past 2 weeks has been building out content. But I’ve actually worked on a number items:
- Building out content
- A new design and new logo
- Competitor research
I’ll dive into these in a bit of detail so you can understand exactly what I’ve been up to.
Building out my content
Content outsourcing has been on my todo list for some time now and thought I would finally give it a try. A few of the folks in the Niche Duel said they used iWriter and had good experiences with them.
I’ve been really hesitant to use outsourced writers. I felt it was important for a site owner to write the content on their sites. I think this is due to me trying to use an “authority site” approach to building niche sites. Through some discussions with other niche site builders, I realized there is a difference between an authority site and a niche site.
On an authority site, like Side Income Blogging, it’s critical to know your stuff, write your own content, and let people know the author behind the site. On a niche site though, none of that is really important. A niche site just needs valuable and useful content – who writes it doesn’t really matter.
I decided that using outsourced writers for my niche is acceptable and honestly really necessary to be able to scale my niche business to the next level. I just don’t have the time to write frequently across 5+ different niche sites. The difference can be a bit subtle, but there is a difference, and it’s all about intent.
Two weeks ago, I created an iWriter account, and requested 4 articles based on some long time tail keywords. While not all of the content was great, what I finally received generally only required minor re-wording and formatting. I will admit, it was kind of nice to just paste the text in, spend 5 minutes formatting it, and them hit the publish button. I’d love to be able to get out of even the business of formatting and publish it. I hope to scale up to being able to use a Virtual Assistant (VA) one day to do the posting for me.
With a VA, I could just send them the keywords, they could put the request on iWriter, “accept” the article, format it, add some images and publish it. This would allow me to focus on my sites at a higher level, and even build out additional sites for more diversity.
I decided that I didn’t want to outsource my “pillar content”, and wrote that myself. But all of the longer tail keywords make great opportunities for outsourcing.
Speaking of long tail keywords – I did spend a few hours one evening in Market Samurai finding lots of good long tail keywords to write on within my target niche. I didn’t really pay a great deal of attention to search volumes while doing this, as my target keywords are my focus. I just wanted lots of long tail content to make the site more helpful for people and make it more well rounded.
By the way – a “expert tip” for you on finding long tail keywords – use Google Instant. For example, let’s say your niche is “skin care”. Pull up Google search and type skin care, notice the drop down with other ideas that appears?
Those are long tail keywords ripe for the picking! If you continue to type one of the keywords displayed, you’ll get even more long tail keywords!
I did this for all of the keywords I found in Market Samurai just to get additional ideas. I was able to come up with a list of over 100 good long tail keywords in about two hours one night.
I’ll use that list to outsource content on iWriter to build out my site and get lots of content out there in a short period of time. For any keywords that get higher levels of traffic and I don’t feel comfortable having someone at iWriter write it, I’ll just write it. I like writing anyway.
Right now I have 5 articles sitting in my iWriter queue waiting to be written or being written. I should get article responses in a day or two, I’ll post them and set them up to “drip post” over the next week.
A new design
In my last update, you’ll recall that I elected to use a new theme I found called Jarida on this new Amazon niche site. As I used the theme more, I began to learn how to use the features and what theme was really capable of. As a result, I changed the layout and the colors a bit. I wanted the site to look very professional and high end. To say the Jarida theme impresses is an understatement.
Far too many niche sites look cheap. Some might site that doesn’t matter, but I disagree. My theory is that the more credible and professional a site looks, the more the site will be trusted. I want my niche sites to look as professional and trustworthy as any other high-end eCommerce like site.
With the new colors and layout in place, the site looked amazing … except for the logo I did. I was really honest with myself, and realized the logo just looked cheap and “cheesy”. My friend, and fellow “niche site duel” member Josh Hofmann recommended a designer on Fiverr. For $5, I decided to try him.
The logo ended up costing me $10, as I wanted the Photoshop file as well as the logo image, but the cost was well worth it. The logo wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was close enough that I could easily tweak it a bit in Photoshop to get what I wanted. The logo not being exactly what I wanted was my fault. I wasn’t clear enough on my requirements. Regardless, if you need a logo for your blog or niche site, Fiverr is a great option to use. Just browsing the site, I’m amazed at what people will do for you for $5.
With the new logo installed, a decent amount of content, and lots of really high quality images, the site is really looking pretty amazing. I shared it with a few close friends, and they thought so as well. I’m really pumped about the future of this site, and I really think it’s going to do really well.
I’ve also spent time over the past 2 weeks doing a great deal of competitor research. I identified my key competitors before I even selected the niche, and even did some high level investigation to be sure I could compete with them. In addition to that initial research, over the past two weeks I’ve been targeting the main competitor in my niche, the one that’s ranking #1 in the SERPs for most of my target keywords.
Ranking is war, and I’m in this to win…
I spent time reviewing that competitor site’s content, and making notes about what they were writing about and what keywords they were targeting. I looked at what articles did best on the various social media sites for them. I looked at their social media pages and accounts to see what they were sharing and how often. I looked to see what back links they had built. I also noted any comments that were made on their articles, specifically looking for questions or additional information being provided. I even looked up who the site owners were and did a little background checking on them to see how experienced they were.
Why did I do all of this? So that I can take the success they’ve created, reproduce it, and do it better. There is a disadvantage to being first. Big companies do this all the time, and this is business.
I have a ton of data from this competition analysis, and started taking a little action on it this week. I wrote a much improved version of my competitors top article last night. I added more content, made the information easier to read, added some videos and linked out to high reputation sites such as Wikipedia. If all pans out, this should cause me to outrank them, hopefully quickly.
In doing this research, I also found that most of the niche sites I’m competing with for the front page, aren’t updated frequently at all, and some of the content is short, low quality, dated and full of Amazon links. I’m pretty confident that if I can start getting ranked, I should easily be able to outrank the top 5 competitors I’ve identified.
Unfortunately as of this morning, my sites are indexed, and all of my articles are indexed, but I’m not ranking for my target keywords just yet. But this takes time.
My focus over the next few weeks will be getting even more content published.
At this point I don’t plan to do any type of paid back links, but I am building out a few related Web 2.0 properties where I might add some links later. I’m also actively participating in a few forums specific to my site’s niche, and also adding comments to sites I don’t feel are my top competitors. I’m a little hesitant to let my competitors know about me just yet, as I don’t want to get hit any negative SEO attempts. Once I start ranking well, I’ll begin adding comments and making some effort to begin “stealing” some of their traffic.
I’ll also create and begin working on social media pages on Google+ and Facebook, and also create a Twitter account for my niche as well. That’s most likely going to be a project for this weekend.
That’s all for this update. I’ll publish another update in the next week or two, once I have enough information to share with you.
Also, head over and read Dave Nicosia’s “duel” update Chapter 1 of his niche site case study.