After long brainstorming sessions, you probably have a shortlist of ideas for your next niche by now. Your family says they’re great. Your best friend has been constantly cheering you to go for it. They are pretty popular topics within your circle, so it’s pretty guaranteed that you will get tons of visitors and great commissions… or will you really?
Whether it’s your first time building a website or you’re on a quest to expand your online revenue streams as a webmaster, it’s important to check first if your authority site ideas are worthwhile.
Close that WordPress post editor tab, hold your plan of subscribing to a couple of paid plugins, and join us through four simple steps that could save you a lot of time and effort from ideas that are bound to fail.
Step 1: Estimate how many people are interested in your authority site ideas
Start off by checking if the monthly search queries for your ideas are worth the time and effort you’ll spend on it.
To estimate traffic, you can count on the free Google Keyword Planner or the WordPress plugin Mangools – my personal favorite. Both are great for analyzing key terms, but paying a few bucks for Mangools will give you each idea’s exact search volume data.
You can also check out Market Samurai and SEO Hunter. Word of warning though: their results can sometimes be inaccurate. Impatient webmasters would also get frustrated with its query results that take forever to load. Moreover, Market Samurai relies on data from Bing. Quite a mismatch if you got your eyes on Google like all the other hundreds of thousands of webmasters in the world.
How to estimate traffic with keyword tools and plugins
Upon entering your idea in the search bar, Mangools will give you an estimate on how many times this keyword has been searched for on Google in the past months. This plugin’s KWfinder will also tell you how difficult it is to rank for each key term using six difficulty levels.
If you’re still a beginner in authority site management, try to stick with ideas displayed in Mangools KWFinder’s green area. Experienced webmasters will be capable of handling those in the yellow section too. However, any keyword classified beyond these safe zones would be extremely difficult to rank for.
Quick reality check though: if the plugin revealed that there are 5,000 monthly queries for your key term, it doesn’t really mean that you’re assured to have 5,000 visitors for your authority site. This figure will be distributed among all the pages found on the search results, so be prepared for the competition.
Keep in mind that Mangools’ KWFinder is not a solid fortune teller either. Take its results as a general guide. If you believe that you’re sitting on an idea that will absolutely revolutionize a niche, by all means – go for it! If no one has thought about it before, it’s likely that traffic analysis will give you a terrible, demotivating forecast.
I’ve actually been lucky enough in taking risks like this. There were keywords that Mangool’s warned me about since they only have 50 searches each month, but pushing through with the ideas lead to over 1,500 visitors for my authority site. Pretty worth it, huh?
Step 2: Know your competition
Your authority site will only be one among the hundreds of thousands of pages already up and running on the Internet. If you don’t want your idea to sink fast into the realm where no one dare goes (page two and beyond in Google’s search results), you have to scout your competition. Your job? Know what they do best and what they suck at.
Put on your spy hat and choose between these two methods for competition analysis:
- Manual search
- Use of WordPress plugins
Competition analysis with manual search
If you want to experience visitors’ experience first hand, do a manual search on Google for your authority site ideas. Let’s start by opening your browser in incognito mode. This way, you get results that are as raw as possible since they weren’t personalized according to your own behavior on the Internet.
Enter your keyword in the search bar, and get ready to scrutinize the ranked pages. Here are a few questions you could use as a guide in taking notes:
- What type of pages are displayed? (e.g. online shops, price comparisons, buyer guides, etc.)
- What sections do ranked websites have?
- How were ranked pages designed?
- How long did it take to load the ranked authority sites?
Simply put, you have to find areas where you can beat these top-ranked pages. Terrible page design? Better make sure that your logo, color combination, and menu options are perfect. Loading speed that really tested your patience? Start checking out plugins for image and file size optimization.
Belonging in Google’s top five picks isn’t a freeway for guaranteed commissions and superb visitor experience. Your job is to make the most out of your competition’s flaws by using them as a guide when you start building your authority site.
Competition analysis with WordPress plugins
When it comes to competition analysis, I’ve also found a best friend in Mangools. Webmasters who are working with a tight budget can also try the free tools SEO Quake, MozBar, and AHREFS SEO Toolbar.
Task 1: Check the competitor analysis overview
If you want a quick look at the SEO strategy of your competitors, launch Mangools’ KWFinder and run its integrated competitor analysis function. In just a couple of seconds, you can identify who your competition is for each keyword. While manual searches gave you subjective mental notes for the top-ranked page, displaying the generated analysis overview on Mangool’s SERPChecker will show you the following metrics:
- Link Profile Strength (LPS) – Overall predicted ranking score
- Domain Authority (DA) – a ranking score for websites based on evaluation of linking root domains and number of total links
- Page Authority (PA) – a ranking score for specific pages
- Citation Flow (CF) – predicts the influence of a URL based on its number of linked pages
- Trust Flow (TF) – predicts the influence of a URL based on the quality and trustworthiness of linked pages
- FB – Number of Facebook shares for the URL
- Alexa Rank (AR) – a rough measure of a website’s popularity based on the number of unique page visits and the number of pages viewed for each visit
- Links – Total number of backlinks
- RD – Total number of referring domains for the URL
- RI – Total number of referring IP addresses for the URL
Task 2: Evaluate your competitors’ backlink profiles
Backlink generation is a foolproof technique to land in a higher spot on the Google results page. Take a look at how this SEO strategy is used by your competitors through Mangools’ SERPChecker and Link Miner functions, and check the sources enumerated in each competitor’s backlink profile.
If it generally includes weak origins such as bookmarks, comments, catalogs, and article directories, put out your party hat and rejoice. This means that you can do better even with just a few quality links. If a competitor’s backlink profile seems pretty impressive, don’t be shy to save these sources for future use.
Expert tip: Do not waste your time in evaluating the backlink profile of humongous websites like Amazon. I don’t think you’d be able to find a useful trend from the millions of links these portals have.
If Mangools’ SERPChecker and Link Miner aren’t a good fit for you, there are other tools in the market that you could try:
- Backlink Spy Tool from SEOHunter
- Open link profiler
- SEO Backlink Gereedschap
- backlink test.com
Task 3: Monitor your keywords’ performance and competition
Conducting keyword and competition analysis should be an ongoing commitment if you want to take your webmaster career seriously. Google Trends and Mangools’ KWFinder will give you an overview of the internet traffic and competition for your ideas over time.
Does the trend curve forecast even higher traffic in the future? Are there any seasonal spikes you should take note of? Use these insights to optimize the type of content you publish at any given time.
Step 3: Decide what type of authority site to build for each idea
There are two kinds of authority sites based on size, and your choice as to which type to build will greatly affect your pages’ performance in a niche. While portal niche sites can give you a strong brand positioning, product-related websites can generate income faster. If your means allow it, try to do both!
Allow us to walk you through each type of authority site:
1. Portal niche sites
Portal niche sites are humongous websites that could have over a thousand pages that cover all topics from A to Z.
People who use Google’s search functions often have a problem that they badly want to find a solution for. In most cases, they’d have absolutely no idea what to do. A portal’s wide collection of resources can come in handy for these visitors. Even better, you’d have a wide set of keywords and products that increases your chances of ranking high in the results page.
However, your readers’ cluelessness doesn’t equate to gullibility. Equipped with analytical skills, they won’t bite just any content fed to them by the results page. If you want them to stay and read through your entire buyer guide, you have to make them believe that materials on your page has value and is relevant to the problem they are trying to solve.
This means that portal niche sites are only for webmasters who are really passionate about their chosen ideas and have access to superb writing talents. Be prepared as well to conduct more research on keywords and competitors to make sure not a single page on your website will be left behind.
Advantages of portal niche sites
- Opens wide opportunities for website monetization through selling your own merchandise, joining affiliate marketing programs, and offering consultancy services.
- When done right, a portal website will be terribly hard to compete with in terms of SEO.
- It allows you to build a strong and respected reputation in your chosen niche, making backlink generation a breeze.
- You have the chance to build a loyal community by boosting the website with social media channels and newsletter marketing.
2. Product-related niche sites
As its name implies, this type of niche site only focuses on a single product line. Less effort is involved in building its 5 to 10 pages as compared to portals who have thousands. However, it’s usually impossible to expand a product-related authority site’s scope. You’d often have to create an entirely new website should you come across a new stellar idea.
Visitors of product-related websites are further down the purchase funnel. They already know what to look for and how to solve their problem, but they still require assistance in finalizing which brand to avail of. With pages that are focused on buyer guides and product comparisons, you can easily provide value and earn commissions from your visitors.
However, prepare to have a hard time generating backlinks for your idea. Product-related niche sites are often seen as greedy money pages, so it’s difficult to build the best reputation for partnerships. Moreover, building a community through social media is often a lost cause if you’re managing just a small authority site.
Advantages of product-related niche sites:
- You don’t have to maintain a constant stream of quality content. Build the pages, publish enough materials, enhance your SEO strategy. Even when you leave product-related niche sites alone, it can still put a decent amount of commissions in your pocket.
- It’s possible to generate revenue as a startup, even with just a few visitors.
- Management of product-related niche sites makes your business are more scalable than that of portal site operators. You can simply build more websites for more income.
Step 4: Check if it’s possible to monetize your authority site idea
While the degree of commitment you have for an idea is an important consideration, passion won’t really pay your bills. To know if your chosen topic is worthwhile, find out if there are available products in that niche. Where are they listed? How much commission can you earn? You have to check if it’s possible to maintain sustainable revenue streams for your authority site.
While it’s possible to offer your own products or consultancy services, many webmasters opt to join affiliate marketing programs.
The Amazon Affiliate Program
Almost everyone in the modern world has an Amazon account. Millions of products. Highly trusted platform. Abundant customer reviews to consult. No wonder the Amazon Affiliate Program is the top choice of many authority site operators. Even better, you will receive commissions not just from the product you’ve specifically recommended, but for all items in a customer’s shopping cart!
The amount of commission you’ll get from Amazon depends on the product category you choose. Although they’re fast-selling, you’d barely make enough income with tech products like televisions, smartphones, and tablets. Meanwhile, there are other niches that can grant up to 10% referral bonus rates.
When choosing what to recommend, stick with products that have a great mix of:
- High sales rank
- Numerous customer reviews
- Reasonable commission rates
Expert tip: Your affiliate links’ cookie has a short runtime of only 24 hours. If someone makes a purchase after it expires, you won’t get any commission at all. Make sure you provide content that will answer all of your visitors’ questions about a topic. This will give them that final push to click on that buy now button.
Other partner programs
There are several thousand affiliate partner programs out in the market, some even better than that of Amazon. These programs will differ in terms of:
- Commission models – apart from percentage rates, some will also grant you fixed amounts as a bonus for each sale
- Cookie runtimes – some programs’ cookies can last up to 180 days, far longer than Amazon’s 24-hour limit
Remember, your authority site thrives on your integrity and reputation. Scrutinize each program and online shop as thoroughly as you could! Ask yourself: would you even be willing to buy from them? Make sure that their pages have a professional design and a reliable user interface, and test their entire sales process yourself. High commissions are as good as nothing if you won’t be able to sell anything.
Ideal price for product recommendations
The equation for predicting your revenue is pretty simple:
- Low sales price = high sales volume, but low commission
- High sales price = low sales volume, but high commission
Ideally, the products you recommend must fall between the price range of $15 to $200. Cheaper products are often self-explanatory, so buyers don’t often hop over a dozen of buyer guides just to decide if they’ll get it. On the other hand, big investments will prompt them to learn as much as they could. This opens superb opportunities for content creation in your authority site.
My most successful niche site enrolled in the Amazon Affiliate Program highlights products ranging from $15 to $55, giving me a commission of about $1 for each sale. However, I have experienced jumping with glee after earning a bonus of $475 for a product that costs over $1,650.
We know you’re oozing with energy and excitement, but it always pays to check if your authority site idea is worthwhile. By knowing the right considerations, analytical processes, and tools, you can save yourself from wasted time and effort.
How do you put your niche site ideas to the test? Feel free to drop your personal tips and tricks in the comments below!