“SEO is dead.”
In the days following Google’s infamous Penguin update, those three words were plastered over nearly every webmaster forum on the internet. With their sites dropping like a boulder in the ocean, many threw their hands in the air and simply gave up on SEO altogether.
While others were scrambling to find quick fixes or filling out McDonald’s job applications, I was getting a sun burn on a white sand beach in southern Spain, watching my Adsense income climb.
Was I lucky? Maybe. But it probably has more to do with the unique way I rank my niche sites in Google.
What 90% of Niche Site Owners Get Wrong
Here’s how most webmasters set up a niche site:
- Find a low competition, high paying keyword using software like Long Tail Pro or Market Samurai.
- Hire someone on Elance to write 5 pages of generic, keyword-stuffed content
- Build spammy, easily detectable backlinks from article directories, blog comments and profile links
- Watch their site rank for a few weeks, make a few bucks, and then disappear like Houdini
I should say this business model CAN work if scaled because a) some sites will sidestep and a Google slap and b) producing niche sites in this way is dirt cheap. However, there’s a much better way to profit from niche sites that I’m going to share with you here.
What Works in 2012: Authority Niche Sites
Here’s the step-by-step method I use to create profitable and long-lasting a niche sites.
Find a Permanent, Buyer’s Market
Search volume is nice, but I prefer smaller searches with strong buyer intent. This can usually be gauged using the recommended bid in Google Adwords Contextual Keyword Tool.
I also tend to go for niches that will be around for years and years, meaning product review sites are out.
Once I find a niche buyer’s market, I use a keyword software tool to determine the competition. I prefer a niche market that has 3 keyword of at least 5,000 exact match searches per month.
For example, my latest niche site SurveySpencer.com, is in a market with dozens of high-volume paid survey related keywords that get a decent CPC in Adsense.
Bonus Tip: Whenever possible, go for keywords that can be monetized without Adsense. Many Adsense fans have recently learned, Google can and will ban Adsense accounts for no reason whatsoever. It’s nice to have the option to smoothly transition into CPA or affiliate marketing, as these are often more profitable anyway.
Set Up Your Site
Your About, Contact and Privacy pages are sometimes skipped by niche site owners. I always make sure to thoroughly fill these out to bulk up my site and gain more trust from Google.
Bonus Tip #2: Put your WHOIS address on your contact us page for extra trust. Google is an official domain registar that doesn’t sell domains. They went through the effort so they can check things like this.
Write 1000-Word Articles for All Keywords Above 500 Searches/Month
Nothing complicated here: just make sure the keyword is used in the title, first sentence and a handful of times in the article. I prefer longer 1000-1200 word articles as I find they rank better and bring in more long-tail searches.
Another advantage of long content is that you’re more likely to hit the LSI goodies that Google loves these days.
Once you have these written, drip them regularly over the first few days of your site becoming indexed and then less often from there.
301 an Aged, High PR Domain From GoDaddy Auctions
This is the bread and butter of my backlink strategy. By 301ing an old domain to my new niche site I get all the trust, authority and links that site earned during its lifetime. Even better, I’ve found that the aged site doesn’t have to related to your niche for it to work.
SurveySpencer.com, for example, has a 301 coming from an out of business Greek restaurant pointing to it and started on the second page for its target keyword: online surveys for money. The important thing is to make sure that your expired domain is at least 2-years old and has a PR of 3 or above.
I like to use DomainPeeker.com as you can easily sort by PR, domain age and DA/PA.
Write and Distribute a Stellar Press Release
Nothing gives your site more trust and authority than getting a link from a Google News Approved website. Because these are manually reviewed by big G for quality, links from them extends far beyond whatever PR they may have. While PRweb.com is obviously the best, I’ve found the much cheaper EmpoweredNews.com and WebWire.com to work just as well.
Guest posting is a fantastic way to get contextual links from authority sites.
You can either contact webmasters to post your article, but they generally require a top-notch article (which is understandable). If you got an “F” in high school English, you can simply head over to Fiverr.com and pay a few high PR site owners to write a review of your site for you (with a backlink to your site, of course!).
The one downside of this system is that it takes a while for Google to find and process the 301. But if it’s been a few weeks and you’re still MIA in the SERPs, repeat the above strategy and try tossing in some of these powerful links:
- Homepage Backlinks: Remember that you want your link on high PR pages, not necessarily sites. Buy a few high PR homepage links (contextual links, not blogrolls) from people on the Warrior Forum or on Wicked Fire forum.
- Related Blog Comments: Post comments on articles in authority sites in your niche. Be sure that you write a informative comment if you expect to get approved.
- Web 2.0 Sites: Make a 10-15 web 2.0 properties from sites like Webs and Weebly with a link pointing to your site. Add a picture and/or video to make the blog look a little more legit.
Using this method you’ll rank quickly and can sleep easy knowing that you won’t be a victim of Google’s next slap, dropkick or body slam.