If you’ve been through the first 3 parts to this step by step tutorial you should now be fairly clear on the specific niche you want to base your new niche site or niche blog around.
If not then don’t worry – I would still keep moving forward with this guide because as we go deeper into the process you may get an ‘aha’ moment and narrow in on an idea (especially when we do more thorough keyword research below). Good ideas can come at any time, any place.
So we’ve brainstormed for niche topics, done some niche research, and hopefully settled on a specific, potentially profitable topic that you either have interest or knowledge about…time to finally register a domain and start building your site. Right?
Nope. Hold up.
There’s a couple more important planning steps to get through if you really want to get the edge and give your site every chance to succeed and earn you a nice side income for the long-haul.
Way too many people rush too quickly into starting a new site. They’re impatient and are eager to register a domain name ASAP and slap slapping up content without really thinking it through.
That’s cool if you’re setting up a personal blog or a hobby site, but remember we’re here to build a business. Building a profitable site with plenty of targeted traffic that converts into an income doesn’t just magically happen by accident.
You gotta be smart about it and plan ahead for it. In this part I’ll cover these two main things:
- How to plan your site structure by keeping your end game in mind
- How to find good, suitable keywords within your niche using a premium keyword tool
After that it’s time to finally take the ideas in your head and start putting it out there in the real world. Well, the digital world. 🙂
Planning Your Niche Site Structure
Before actually creating your site you want to think of your overall content strategy, and how your money-making efforts are going to fit into the mix.
Clarity really is power, and it’ll give you the confidence to know exactly what needs to be done and how you’re going to approach your site.
Firstly, start by breaking up your site into its main, top-level categories.
Then, within those main categories plan out what some of your pages are going to be about.
I’ll use a random example to illustrate. Let’s say you’re starting a site within the car audio niche and you’ll call it Car Audio Insider (who knows this could actually be a solid idea).
This could be the start of your site structure: (remember this is just an example and I’m not saying these are good page titles)
- Car Audio Insider (your homepage)
- Buying Guides (category/hub page)
- Car Stereo Buying Guide/How to Choose a Car Stereo/etc (article/blog post)
- Car Speaker Buying Guide/How to Choose a Subwoofer for Your Car Audio System/etc
- Amplifier Buying Guide
- Subwoofer Buying Guide
- Product Reviews
- Top 3 Car Stereos for Those on a Budget
- Sony Car Speaker Model X Review
- 10 Best Value Car Audio Amplifiers in 2015
- Installation Guides
- How to Install a Car Stereo
- How to Install a Subwoofer
- Car Audio Installation Safety Tips
- Installing Yourself vs Hiring Expert
- Tips n Tricks
- Best Places to Buy Car Audio
- Beginners Guide to Car Audio
- Utility Pages
- About page (explaining more about what the site offers and perhaps about your experience with car audio)
- Contact page (where you’ll set up a contact form for visitors to reach out to you)
- Resources page (a list of other great online resources in the niche)
- Buying Guides (category/hub page)
I’d suggest getting away from your computer and actually using pen and paper to draw out your plan – it may help you think more clearly and creatively. It certainly does for me when I’m in brainstorming mode.
You don’t have to plan EVERY single page of your site now, but it’s a good idea to get clear on your overall site structure and what content you’re going to cover.
It’ll help you when it comes to building your site because you’ll know exactly what needs to be done and how everything fits together.
Coming up with your first bunch of pages and the main categories of your site shouldn’t be difficult considering all of the niche research you (should) have done already.
You should have a good idea about which topics and problems people in your specific niche want to know about, and also which products you are going to promote as an affiliate (or to create yourself perhaps later down the track) to write reviews, guides and tips about.
Keep in mind that as you do more in-depth keyword research for your site, which I’m just about to get to below, you’ll likely find many more content ideas.
Although you should have already found quite a few ideas by the basic keyword research I showed you how to do with Google’s free keyword tool in previous parts of this guide.
Thinking your strategy through now may also force you to think about your site from a different perspective, and perhaps help you to hone your “unique angle” (how you’re going to position your site within your niche or which exact target audience you’ll be serving) and think about how you’re going to dominate in your niche.
Dominate? Yes, remember that the ideal for your site is for it to eventually be a valuable, information-packed and comprehensive source of information for your particular niche. You want to get as close to that as possible.
Think to cover everything that you can related to your specific niche topic, in as much detail as you can, so your visitors will love your site and keep coming back for more information if they need to (and happily refer it to others).
Another thing to keep in mind as we plan your site now is not to get caught up in trying to make it perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect plan – just try to do your best now and keep moving forward with it.
For example, little things might nag at you such as some pages overlapping multiple categories (placing a page under more than one category is perfectly fine to do in WordPress), some pages not even fitting into any category (an option for this is to create a category called ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘other’), or you may not be able to think of much more than a handful of pages for now if your niche is small (again, doing more keyword research will help you find more content ideas).
Don’t sweat the small stuff because chances are that as you build and grow your site you’ll continue to tweak your plan.
Your categories may change, your pages may change, and your exact target niche market may even change slightly too. So for now, just try to plan your site as best you can from where you are now.
Think About Your “Money” Pages
By money pages I simply mean which pages are going to be the focus of your affiliate marketing efforts. That is if affiliate marketing is going to be your main income strategy, as it will be for most people starting a new content site (especially if you’re new, affiliate marketing is simple).
You can always create your own product later, which takes quite a bit more work (but it worth the effort). Whatever you do, don’t rely on Google Adsense or other advertising models for income, unless you’re building a really long-term authority site and have a solid plan to gain a TON of traffic (not easy). Use ads as a supplement to affiliate marketing/creating a product.
Yes, you could earn from every page on your site such as with ads or by weaving in affiliate links when it’s natural to do so (or other ways such as an email list, YouTube, or a podcast which I’ll talk about later), but typically you’ll have certain pages that make up most of your income.
These pages could be specific reviews about a certain product, a “roundup” style review page where you list a bunch of different products, or a “resources” type of page where you share all the best products in your niche.
You want to naturally flow your visitors to your “money” pages wherever possible.
As an example, on my current best-performing affiliate niche site, I have 2 particular pages that make up a huge chunk of my overall affiliate income.
I make sure that I link to these pages whenever I can from other pages on my site (when it’s natural) and I also make it a focus to lead visitors to these pages if they initially land on my homepage.
Alternatively, if email marketing will be your primary strategy then signing people up to your email list may be your main focus as opposed to affiliate links.
Using the car audio example I used above for planning your site structure, my “money” pages would be the product reviews, the “resources” page, and other pages that talk specifically about products such a page like “Top 5 Car Stereos on a Budget in 2015” or whatever.
4 Types of Pages for Your Niche Site
There are basically 4 different types of pages that you are going to be creating. I’ll explain them briefly and how they fit into your overall content strategy, but I’ll talk about how to actually create them when we get to the content creation part later in this guide.
If your site is going to be in a blog format then your homepage will simply show the most recent blog posts/articles.
Alternatively if you don’t want your site to look like a blog (ie with posts ordered chronologically) and you want it structured more like a “static” site then you’ll want to create a custom homepage that introduces your site and what it’s all about. In this case you’ll want to remember to add links to all of your category/hub pages (explained next).
Don’t worry, setting a static homepage is easy in WordPress and I’ll show you how later. Having a custom homepage like this also allows you to better optimize your homepage for your main site keyword (the keyword that you’ll target with your homepage – more on that later).
Whichever way you go with your homepage, standard blog layout or custom, you’ll want to target a certain keyword. I’ll refer to this keyword as your “main site keyword”.
If your overall niche is “car audio”, you want to either use “car audio” as your main site keyword if you’re happy with the demand and competition levels for that keyword (I’ll explain that in just a second), OR you want to seek out a better keyword if you don’t like those numbers (off the top of my head that could be something like “car audio tips” or “best car audio” etc).
These pages represent each different category of your site. Again, if you want to keep your site in standard WordPress blog format (the default setting) then your category pages will simply display the posts within that category.
But if you’re going for more of a static site you’ll want to optimize these pages for a certain keyword, and in terms of content you’ll want to add some sort of valuable information related to the category AND with links to some (or all) of the pages within that category.
Don’t just create bare category pages with links though – you want to make sure every page, even these “category” pages have enough written content on them to be able to rank in the search engines (Google and co dislike thin-content pages).
Using my random car audio example above, the first “category” page I listed is the buying guides one. So I would create a page that introduces all of the buying guides on my site (including links).
I would fill out the page with some value such as explaining how the buying guides will help you save money, time etc, and perhaps add a few paragraphs introducing each specific buying guide and what they’re about exactly.
Note: There’s no point creating a hub page for your utility pages such as your about and contact pages.
These are the meat and potatoes of your site and where you share valuable information such as general tips and advice, detailed how-to guides, product reviews and experiences, list posts or “best of” product roundups, or whatever else is relevant to your niche topic.
Just like with your category pages, you want to interlink to other related content on your site (especially your money pages) whenever its natural to do so.
Interlinking is good for SEO AND it’s helpful to your readers because you are leading them to more good content. It also helps to keep your visitors on your site for longer.
Of course, you want to target a certain keyword on each of the articles that you create.
Lastly there are what I call “utility” pages which are simply any pages that don’t fit into categories and admin-type pages. These are some common ones you’ll probably want to have on your site:
- About page – Here you can share more about your site, its benefits, and perhaps a little about you and your story if relevant. You don’t need an about page, especially if you cover what your site is all about on your homepage, but I highly recommend it in 99% of cases so that people who wish to know more about you and your site can do so.
- Contact page – If you want your readers to be able to reach out to you then you’ll want to have a contact page with a form that they can fill out with their message. Very easy to do with WordPress and I’ll show you how in the building phase. Again, I highly recommend this because in 99% of cases you want feedback, good or bad, from your readers to help you improve your site, connect with readers, gain new content ideas, etc.
- Resources page – It may or may not be useful for your niche, but a resource page is basically where you list all of the best outside resources that could help people in your niche. Using the car audio example again, you could share the best places to buy audio (online and offline), other helpful sites, any good books you know of, etc. It’s a perfect place to earn with by placing affiliate links – but of course only promote what’s in your readers best interests.
Remember Your End Game
As you think of your site structure and overall content strategy you’ll want to remember what you’re actually trying to accomplish with your site. No, I’m not talking about specific income targets (online income is extremely difficult to predict), but what are you going to be doing with your site 6 months, 1 year, and even 3-5 or so years down the track.
Do you want to build a small to medium sized site (enough to thoroughly cover your niche though – remember that I don’t recommend creating a mini site that lacks substance) with the end goal being that it will mostly run itself and become a “hands-off” passive income source?
Or are you planning to build larger, high-authority site/blog that you will continue to write for over the long-term because you’re passionate about the topic and want to REALLY dominate your niche and make a larger (yet less passive) income?
There’s no right or wrong answer as it all depends on what you’re trying to create. Although in general the more (quality) content you put out, the better chance you have at not only creating a nice income but sustaining it over the long-term and turning your site into a real business.
It also depends on your particular niche though – for example if you’re targeting a very narrow subject then it’s going to be hard to continually pump out new content for it and so creating a smaller “set and forget” site may be the best way to go (with an occasional update here and there – especially if your industry is ever-changing).
In general I would add that the smaller your site, the more important it is to plan out your site in detail now and focus on covering your niche well and finding good keywords. If you have a small 30 page site; you want literally EVERY one of those pages to count.
Finding Good Keywords to Target
Ok, now that you have mapped out your niche site structure and your overall content strategy, it’s time to pick good keywords that you can target on your site.
In the niche analysis in part 3 we did some basic keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner to estimate whether there’s sufficient demand levels within your niche, but now it’s time to dig a little deeper.
For each page of your site you want to find ONE suitable keyword that has a decent amount of demand but also isn’t too hard for you to rank for.
Optimizing each page of your site for just one carefully-researched keyword is good SEO practice. It’s natural, it works, and it’s what experienced internet marketers in this day and age all recommend (myself included).
Don’t worry that you’re only targeting one keyword per page because in time (if search engines start to like your content) your site will start to rank for all sorts of different long-tail (meaning narrow) keywords. You’re not JUST relying on simply ranking well for the particular keywords that you target.
Whilst Google’s free keyword tool is good for things such as gauging the overall demand levels within your niche, it does not report on how competitive a certain keyword is to rank for so you’ll have to do a lot of time-consuming and often confusing research to do so.
That’s where premium keyword tools become almost necessary. They’ll help you to judge whether a keyword is hard to rank for or not, and they’ll make keyword research a LOT easier and quicker.
Plan Your Keywords With Long Tail Pro
Long Tail Pro is the keyword tool I use the most at the moment and is well-known as one of the very best on the market. A tool like this really is a no-brainer if you’re serious about maximizing the odds of succeeding with your content site.
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with this tool as it will likely become one of your new best friends when it comes to finding new keywords or content ideas.
The platinum version of the tool is the only one that comes with the keyword competitiveness feature which is a rating between 1 – 100 that estimates how difficult it would be to rank well for that specific keyword. 1 being extremely easy to rank for, and 100 being extremely hard to rank for.
Whilst it’s only a rough estimate, as you can never predict exactly how hard certain keywords are to rank for, it’s a very handy feature that makes picking good keywords a lot easier.
Without this feature you’d have to manually research each keyword for competitiveness which can take a long time and can get confusing really quickly (remember that the competition feature in Google’s free tool doesn’t help us here because it refers to advertiser competition and not actual search competition).
Remember that keyword research isn’t just useful for finding actual keywords. It’s very handy to learn about the frustrations and problems that people have in your niche, and to get insights into the specific wording and phrases that they use (which allows you to speak to them in their own “language” or wording).
What Makes a Good Keyword?
There’s no exact formula for choosing good keywords to target with the pages of your niche site/blog, but there are some guidelines I’d generally stick to in terms of demand and competition numbers.
For the competition measurement, for a new site with no authority, I’d favor keywords with a keyword competitiveness rank under 35-40. Less is better obviously.
As for demand, I would ideally pick keywords that have at least 100-200 demand (monthly global searches) and ideally more. 1000+ and more? Even better.
But it’s fine to go for lower demand for some pages, so long as you target at least a bunch of keywords on your site with demand in the thousands, and plenty in the hundreds.
The only exception would be your main site keyword (for your homepage) where I would worry less about competition, and more about having higher demand (at least 2-5000) AND how relevant that keyword is in terms of summing up what your site is about so that it’ll be natural to blend that keyword into your homepage copy.
You don’t want to pick a less relevant keyword for your homepage just because it’s easier to rank for because fitting a less relevant keyword into your site title and a few times within your homepage copy (which is good SEO practice) would be unnatural. Always try to please humans first, then the engines.
Some other things to keep in mind when picking keywords to target for your pages:
- The smaller your site, the more important it is to pick keywords with low competition levels that are going to be realistic to rank for.
- Don’t be a keyword nazi. Choose ones with good demand and small-medium competition where possible, but if you can’t find a perfect keyword for a particular page that you want to create then let it slide and pick the next best keyword.
- For product-related pages such as detailed reviews or “best of” product roundups, search intent matters more. For example, keywords that include certain words like “best” or “buy” in them (eg “best car stereos” or “buy car audio speakers”), or even “top” or “compare/comparison”, may indicate that the person may be considering buying something and so it’s a good idea to use these keywords for those types of pages. Think of it like this: you’re trying to intercept someone on their way to buying something (eg someone on their way to buy from Amazon) so that you can steer them in the right direction and get a commission.
So using the guidelines talked about in the video tutorials I linked to above, and my own guidelines I just mentioned, go ahead and take some time to find keywords for all of your pages and write them down for later.
Don’t worry I’ll cover how to actually use them in your content when we get to building your site in a later part of this guide (including more on SEO).
So now you should have a nice little site structure and content strategy ready to take into the next part. Congrats!
Time to Build Your Niche Site!
We’ve covered a lot in these first 4 parts, and you’re well on your way to starting a new niche site that can really add value in your niche and earn you a nice income of course.
All of this may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re building your very first internet business.
But remember to just keep going at your own pace and take one step at a time.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction.
Stay tuned for part 5 (coming soon) where things get real. I’ll explain the following things to really start moving things forward:
- How to choose a good domain name for your niche site
- How and where to register your domain
- How and where to set up hosting
- How to install WordPress, choose a good theme, and install the best plugins to make things easy