Learn How To Choose a Topic for Your Niche Site – Without Keyword Research (Gasp!)

Learn-How-To-Choose-a-Topic-for-Your-Niche-Site-Without-Keyword-ResearchWaaaay to many people get hung up on keyword research when trying to find a niche to build their website around. There’s so much to learn and consider such as minimum local exact searches, first page competition analysis,  can I beat this site, can I beat that site – that it can be extremely time consuming, frustrating, and overwhelming for beginners. All of these things often prevent people from taking action and starting their website.

People tend to forget that thousands of other people build successful websites all the time without any keyword research at all. I wonder how they do it? There are so many Internet Marketing “Experts” preaching the importance of keyword research in choosing your niche, that many beginners think that there is no other choice. Sometimes you need to forget what the experts say and try things your own way.  While keyword research is definitely very important if you want to attract search engine traffic … There’s gotta be an easier way to get started!

Today I’m going to …

  • Settle the debate between niche sites and authority sites once and for all
  • Teach you how to choose a niche to build your website around without keyword research (gasp!)

What Exactly Is a Niche Site?

I always hear a lot of discussion about the differences between a “niche” site and an “authority” site. I think it’s actually very simple. I know there’s others that share my view out there too. When it comes down to it, it’s no use worrying if you are going to build a niche site or an authority site, and you actually can’t really compare the two anyways.

Here’s how I define each of these terms.

Niche Site – a website built around a specific topic or subtopic. Period.

Authority Site – A website that has proven it’s expertise on a specific topic. Period.

It always amazes me that so many people still don’t get this because it’s really simple. 

How to Start Your Niche Site without Any Keyword Research

There really is no single way to start a niche site that is the best for everybody. Choosing a main keyword to center your site around is definitely one way that works really well for a lot of people, but there are also many people who have started successful niche websites just by … get ready for it … picking a topic they like and writing about it! That’s right, sometimes it’s that simple. Now of course there are certain things you have to take into consideration if you want to make money off of your website and you can’t just choose any topic and go with it. There are certain criteria that the topic must have if you want your site to bring in some cash

So when all of the niche site experts are telling you how important it is to get your keyword right in the beginning when choosing a niche, what do I do instead that works for me? Here’s how you do it.

First get it out of your your head that you have to build your site around a specific keyword. You don’t need a specific keyword but you do need a specific topic. Successful websites are almost always tightly centered around the topic of choice. 

Here’s the criteria I’ve set for myself when choosing a niche to get into and you can do the same. Either copy my criteria exactly or alter it to fit your own needs. I’ll start with a list and then go into each point a little bit to explain myself.

Criteria for Choosing a Topic for your Niche Site

  1. You either know a lot about the topic or you are interested in the topic and want to learn more.
  2. There are already more than a few websites already covering the same topic.
  3. There are sponsored results listed on the top and side of the search results when you search for terms related to the topic. (If you want to earn ad revenue)
  4. There are lots of products related to the topic. (If you want to earn commissions on product referrals)
  5. There are people active in forums related to the topic.

1. You either know a lot about the topic or you are interested in the topic and want to learn more – The reason for this is simple. You are going to be spending a LOT of time building, optimizing, writing for, and interacting with your niche website, so if you are highly interested in your topic of choice it will be a lot more fun and will greatly decrease the chance that you will fizzle out before you find success. Think about it. You will likely spend over 100 hours working on your site. How will you feel after spending 100 hours learning and writing about commercial carpets? I sure couldn’t do it!

2. There are already more than a few websites already covering the same topic – This is important because you are not trying to do anything groundbreaking here. You want to increase your chance of success as much as possible, and if there are not any websites already built and active about your topic already, then likely there isn’t much chance your website will be successful. There are sometimes exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far in between. If there are already many websites centered around your topic, especially websites running ads or promoting products, then you know there’s already a market for your site and a good chance you will be able to make some money with your own site.

3. There are sponsored results listed on the top and side of the search results when you search for terms related to the topic – This tells you that companies are interested in advertising to people searching for your topic, which is what you want if you would like to run advertisements on your website to earn money. 

4. There are lots of products related to the topic – This is important if you want to earn commissions from related products to your topic. The more related products there are, the more chances for earning referral commissions. You can often write product reviews or articles covering the products and earn commissions from them when people click through your affiliate links.

5. There are people active in forums related to the topic – This one doesn’t always apply to every topic as some topics just don’t really have people discussing them. But for many topics, this is a sign that people are currently active in, talking about, and learning about your topic. If that’s the case, you will be able to jump in on the conversations and possibly promote your website within these forums. Even if you don’t want to participate in the forums, just take it as a sign that people are interested in learning about it.

How to Choose a Name and URL for your Niche Site

Okay so now you know how to choose a niche without using any keyword research in the beginning. As long as you base your choice on the criteria above, there will be potential to make money with your niche site. Also remember that there are many many factors in building a successful website so as with any method, just because you follow the directions does not guarantee your website will be successful. There are never any guarantees, but if you match the criteria above you will greatly increase your chances of success. 

So how should you name your website and URL? Many people build their niche sites based off a single keyword and Google used to give a benefit to websites whose URL is an exact match to the keyword. This is called an Exact Match Domain (EMD). In September of 2012 however, Google removed the benefit that having an EMD carried, so it’s no longer a viable SEO tactic. So what should you do now? I like to choose a domain name that uses one or two keywords related to my niche but give it a spin that will make it brandable and make you stand out. Google seems to like brands a lot these days so I say give it to them!

Here’s some examples: (if they’re available, use them!)

  • Niche: Archery – BowAndArrowBrigade.com
  • Niche: Camping –  TheCampingDiaries.com
  • Niche: Cooking – CoolCookingKids.com
  • Niche: Fitness – ShapeUpOrShipOut.com

Where Keyword Research Fits In and a Basic Content Strategy

So as I mentioned above, I do think keyword research is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT and will GREATLY increase your chances of people finding you in Google. I just don’t believe that you need to obsess over finding that perfect low competition high search volume magic keyword to get you started. Where the keyword research fits in is when you are choosing topics to write about. I’m not going to go into great detail about how to find related keywords to write articles about since this post isn’t about keyword research, but here’s an easy method that you can use to write your content with and it’s what I usually do.

Now before you start writing articles, that’s where you should do your keyword research. Try to pick 3 to 5 long tail keywords / keyphrases that get between 160 and 800 searches per month, and naturally incorporate them into your article. If you can get a total of 1000 – 1500 searches per month (exact match) between the keywords you’ve chosen, you’re good to start writing. 

How It All Adds Up

If you write 10 articles this way, each totaling 1000 searches per month, that’s potentially 10,000 searches that could land on your site. 100 articles = 100,000 searches per month. All built on relatively easy to rank for keywords.

So far I’ve had a lot of success with this method, I’m getting my articles ranked, and my search traffic is continually growing.

In Conclusion

I know keyword research is SUPER important, but too many people get hung up on it in the beginning when they could be doing what I outlined above and getting results quickly. The key to this method is choosing a niche that is popular, has LOTS of related products, and already has a bunch of websites up on the topic to prove that it’s viable.

Quick Tip – Another way to find an idea if you’re stuck is search the web for other affiliate sites and see what they’re doing. Find one that seems to be ranking easily, and do everything better than them. Don’t copy their site though!

Hope that helps and puts a different perspective on keyword research that isn’t usually discussed.

4 comments on “Learn How To Choose a Topic for Your Niche Site – Without Keyword Research (Gasp!)

  1. Rosa on

    Thanks, Dave. I’ve been enjoying perusing your site after following you here from Niche Site Duel. I’m so glad I read this particular post — been going a little overboard/nuts with the keyword research. Glad to see this angle of blog creation: write what you know/like, then figure out how to monetize. Keep up the good work!

    • Dave on

      Thanks Rosa! If starting a site this way, just keep in mind that it won’t work on just ant niche, it has to be a niche that follows the criteria I’ve outlined above. You want to make sure it is a niche that can be monetized!

      Keyword research is very important, but just getting out there and producing content is the most important.

  2. Monique on

    Hi Dave

    Awesome article! I am one of those that gets bogged down in the kw research – but to be fair, I am quite a newbie at all of this.

    Just wondering – if you design your site in Photoshop first, what program do you use to actually create it?
    I’m looking at doing a basic web design/development course. I would like to know if I need a specific program, or should I focus on programming languages instead?

    My current site is hosted on WordPress. I bought and use Thesis but that is not user-friendly at all …

    • Dave on

      Hi Monique! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

      Here’s my process at a glance:

      1 – Design the homepage, then the inner pages in Photoshop

      2 – I install a fresh version of WordPress on my server, and upload a basic html5 theme template that I use over and over again. It has a lot of the WordPress Theme essentials built right into it, but no front-end theme styles.

      3 – I code out my Photoshop design into a functional theme using the Sublime Text code editor, in the languages of php, html, css, and jQuery.

      I have to say it’s a lot to do if you’re new to building websites though. It’s not a method that is suited for beginners.

      Since you’re interested in website design/development, and also building out niche sites that earn money, I would recommend keeping the two separate at first, a least until you are comfortable coding up a WordPress site.

      The reason is that you don’t want your website building abilities to get in the way of building out a niche site, when it’s not necessary.

      So if you are going to learn to build websites, you should first learn html & css. After you have a good grasp on those, you should learn the basics of php and WordPress Development.

      That would give you a good start in developing a useful and in-demand skillset.

      Hope that helps and good luck, Come back and leave some more comments!!


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