A couple of months ago I published the very first guest post on the blog.
It got a great reception so today I bring you the blogs second guest post covering a topic many of you have asked me about.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to produce awesome content like this and want me to publish your post, get in touch!
What You Will Learn
- How to find niches and keyword using an ‘outside of the box’ method
- The EXACT tactics used to spot the golden niches
- How to dissect a site and decide on a winner
- The exact methods I would use to build a site in 3 different niches
Introducing Lewis Ogden
I recently started my blog Cloud Income, after spending a good few years behind the scenes. I have created hundreds of websites and made some great money doing so.
I was becoming tired of the same old regurgitated content, lack of imagination and flare. That combined with being inspired by this very blog, I decided to do something about it
A Quick Explainer
In my last post “Niche Site making $1,000/Month“, I explained how I discovered a website that was making a very nice income, in a niche I had never heard of.
Long story short, I created my own site to compete in that niche and 4 months later, that site is bringing in over $1,000 per month.
After receiving a number of questions on this tactic, I wanted to show you exactly how I go about finding proven niches, using a tactic that 99% of the competition doesn’t use.
How I Find Proven Niches
My Secret weapon in finding niche sites, that are proven to make money is – Flippa.com.
In this article I take 3 sites, pick them apart, and explain how I would go about building my own website in that niche.
There can be a lot of BS in a Flippa auction, spotting a legit website can prove difficult. However there are steps you can take to filter out much of the rubbish and find niches with real potential.
This is the easy part, as Flippa provides the tools we need to search for specific attributes. For this analysis I have used the following-
(This search returns 1,149 results)
Essentially I am looking for websites at auction, that are over 12 months old and have a NET profit of $2,000+…THAT HAD A SUCCESSFUL SALE ON FLIPPA.
The last part is essential as this cuts out a lot of the rubbish I mentioned above.
If a site has sold, chances are the buyer did their own due diligence. It doesn’t mean that every result returned will be a gem, but it does give us a great base to work from.
Scanning the Results
What we do here is scan through the results and ignore any of the following;
- URL HIDDEN (most often requires an NDA, which won’t happen as the auction has closed!).
- Any site selling Social Media Follower, Tweets, +1’s etc (there are lots of these sites and I am simply not interested in reselling Fiverr Gigs!).
- Any Brand URLs (sometimes you could enter the niche with a non Trade Mark Domain, but for now we will ignore them
- Anything the require building software , website themes etc. (If you have the technical knowledge great, however I’m looking for easier pickings here, something that you could replicate with ease).
Using the example below, here is what I look for in the summary listing;
- Does the domain contain the keyword(s) OR does it tell me what niche the site is in?
- Are there any comments on the auction? It’s rare to find a sale without comments, unless the seller has covered every angle. The comments section usually throws up even more information that is useful to us when conducting our research.
- The sale price – a big number like this may attract my attention first!
- The number of visitors and average monthly revenue (note that the revenue is different to our criteria of NET profit)
- The established date. As we have our criteria set to 12 months or older you can overlook this, however the older the better in my opinion. If a site has been a consistent earner for 6 years….I am interested in how!
The results that I like the look of and fall outside of the above ignore list, I add the domain name, auction URL, niche and net profit into a spreadsheet.
I can then come back at anytime, when I am ready to build another niche site.
This saves so much time, as I have a readily available source of proven niches at my disposal and I only need to search through Flippa once
So let’s look at 3 of these sites in detail shall we?
Example #1 – MilitaryBases.com
URL – MilitaryBases.com
Selling price – $125,000
Bids – 8
Net Profit – $5,499
The first site that caught my eye was the auction for MilitaryBases.com, which ended in October 2012.
The sale price of $125,000 certainly peaked my spider senses, which is around 23x monthly net profit. This is above average for a Flippa site, as I usually find sites sell within the 9-15 times net profit mark.
The site is a in an evergreen niche and provides a great source of information on the US Military Bases, covering the Air Force, Coast Guard, Army and Navy. The Flippa auction states;
MilitaryBases.com is a relocation resource. To understand this website, you need to know that:
1. The United States has ~800 military bases worldwide.
2. Military soldiers get PCS orders every 2-3 years which relocates them and their family.
Before moving to a new military base, families want to know about school options, housing availability, hotel rates, local banks, the cost of living, basically, what kind of lifestyle should they expect. That’s where MilitaryBases.com comes in handy. MilitaryBases.com helps these military families transition.
I love how the seller jumps straight in with these facts. This, combined with the easy breakdown of the description into sections, is a very good sign the seller knows what he/she is doing…and this may not be their first time selling a site
(Quick Tip – check out the sellers profile for even more proven niches!)
Even though this auction has just 8 bids (I think the price tag was out of reach for 90% of the Flippa community), it has everything I would look for in a potential niche to enter.
A proven 2 year history in the SERPS, and an average of 120k unique visitors per month and 361k page views. What’s not to like!
How it’s Monetized
The primary revenue source for militarybases.com is AdSense. There are a few other affiliate resources that generate some income, but on the whole Google AdSense is the bread and butter, bringing in over 85% of total revenues.
Ad slots appear in the sidebar as skyscrapers and under the navigation menu as banners. They do blend in with the site very well as image ads are enabled, I think text ads would look out of place on this particular site.
One Year after the Sale
One year on from the sale of Military Bases, the site is sitting at #3 for its main keyword in Google US;
However I am certain their long tail traffic will be driving upwards of 80% of their total traffic (from my own findings).
Here are some other keywords they rank in the top 10 for;
Military Bases in Florida – #1
Military Bases in Texas – #2
Military bases in the US – #8
US Military Bases – #10
Military Bases in Germany – #2
Military Bases in Utah – #4
As you can see, the site is doing well for many different state and country searches, if the site has continued to earn at the same rate, the new owner could expect a full return on investment over the coming 12 months.
The site also has some great content, user comments (active service men and women and their families) and back links pointing to the site.
Following the in-depth study ahrefs vs. MajesticSEO here on MatthewWoodward.co.uk, I actually favour the Ahrefs data over MajesticSEO and OpenSiteExplorer.
However by using a combination of all three tools, here are some of the relevant and high authority links I came across;
US Military Bases Wikipedia Page (DA 100)
Blinded Veterans Association (DA 67)
LifeAfterExit.com (DA 29)
What’s interesting in this case however is the number of both foreign back links and anchor text.
What’s even more interest is the adult related links in profile. Perhaps victim of a negative SEO attack….looks like it to me.
AdWords still have the majority share of advertising space; however there is also another method being used to monetise the site. This is the banner you are presented with when you visit the root URL.
This appears to be an affiliate/referral method to direct security cleared personal who are transitioning back into civilian life.
It’s a great way to eek more money out of the site whilst keeping it relevant to the visitors, and whilst the popup is fairly obtrusive, I think it works for this niche.
They also have a banner in the header of the site for the same referral method.
My Approach to This Niche
Whilst you could build a site around military bases in general, I would look at creating a site for say “Air force Bases” and see how that site went. There will be plenty of content even though you would have ‘niched down’.
Available Domain names
- MilitaryBasesGuide.com / .net / .org
- MilitaryBaseGuide.net / .org
Or if you want to “Niche Down”
- USAirforceBases.net / .org
- USArmyBases.net / .org
- USNavyBases.net / .org
Any of the above domain names would be fine.
SEO and Back links
A quick look for some free to register domain names over at ExpiredDomains.net finds the following;
Whilst a little low on the DA side with 22, we have 165 back links from 84 domains and it’s a relevant domain name, with part of our keyword in the name. It wouldn’t take much to rebrand this into a highly relevant linking site.
Not an awesome back link profile, BUT with a DA of 29 and 127 links from lots of different domains, there is little chance of losing all those links overnight.
I would pick up both of these domain names and make these the beginning of a blog network to link back to our new niche site.
Top them up with some targeted, relevant bank links using GSA SER and you can increase the power of these sites.
To be honest, we couldn’t go far wrong that to use the content ideas from this site and replicate. I’ don’t mean straight copy, but use the article titles, layout and formatting to your advantage.
I love the map that is used on MilitaryBases.com, so I would HAVE to have this on my site.
Heading over to UberSuggest, we enter our keyword “Military Bases” and we have hundreds of content ideas in an instant. Here’s a small snippet-
What UberSuggest does is it takes your keyword and appends either a letter or a number to the end. It’s a very clever tool and one I use frequently.
It doesn’t provide search volume, but on this site, we would be writing for the visitor and this tool tells us what they will be searching for.
Here’s what they say on their site-
With this free keyword tool you can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries! Use the keywords to get inspiration for your next blog post, or to optimize your PPC campaigns.
Following the MilitaryBases.com site as an example, having a clean navigation bar, fairly unobtrusive ad slots and helpful info, I think we could build a great site.
I would be very tempted to avoid AdSense for my own site, concentrating on the quality of content and building a place servicemen and women trust.
Once established I would then look to sponsor various charities (you can make small donations in exchange for your image or link to be placed on their sponsors page = quality back link).
This will enhance your credibility and also provide some great back links, even if they are brand/URL anchor text.
Example #2 – GuideGator.com
URL – GuideGator.com
Selling price – $31,100
Bids – 8
Net Profit – $14,000
Unfortunately the Flippa auction details for GuideGator are no longer available, it must have been removed by either the seller or buyer (you can purchase auction privacy after a successful sale).
However this is one site I had my eye on back in August this year.
Luckily, whilst the auction was running, I created a folder (using Google Drive) to store all of the auction details
This info went into my ideas folder for review when I had time, however because I couldn’t decide on the legitimacy of the site and seller I just left it alone. Until now.
n.b – the figures quoted are direct from the Flippa auction itself, which I gathered whilst the data was still available.
As the auction is no longer available you will have to take my word for it! – I have added a screenshot below of my Google Drive folder (when I say I captured everything…I mean everything!!)
The first item I want to address is the claimed profits of $14,000 per month.
The auction description stated-
The site for sale is a guide and review web site with over 1,150 unique professionally written articles and a clean sharp design
The site has grown ethically and organically with strong natural back links and is continuing to increase revenues month on month.
All of the revenue comes from Adsense which is minimally placed as not to be overly intrusive. Thus increased revenues may be gained from more aggressive forms of advertising.
Current revenues are stable and producing $14,000+ per month with existing traffic which is growing as new content is added to the site.
The trouble had with this site is the content quality. It’s appalling.
Here are my notes I took at the time of auction in a WordPress doc-
Ok so I’m a little critical here, but this is how I perform my research and I like to keep it real!
Clearly non English speaking writers have produced this content, which can be fine IF their grasp of the English language is good enough.
However here we can clearly see very low quality content, targeting a whole host of niches ranging from Jobs & Careers, Banking, and Online Services such as Netflix and Lovefilm etc.
Below is a snippet of text from one of their articles titled “Apply For Chase Amazon Rewards Visa Card Online”
As you can see, it literally is a guide on how to sign up for this credit card. Go here –> Click This –> Enter Details –> Click Go
How it’s Monetized
Such a simple business model and if the earnings are true, then this is something anyone with a team of Odesk writers can achieve. Just churn out financial related content, day after day.
The auction contained a snapshot of the WordPress backend showing the number of posts on the site, which I also captured
So 1,197 posts have been published, and each article contains a Google AdSense block wrapped inside of the text. It’s AdSense 101 really, nothing complicated and probably the quickest and easiest way to make money with a website.
How it Looks Now
Almost 3 months on from the sale of Guide Gator, the site is still active and looks exactly the same as it did. However with the majority of it’s traffic claimed to come from Organic sources, I struggle to find which keywords are bringing visitors to the site.
With such a mishmash of content, topics and articles, it seems highly unlikely that this site is making as much as was claimed by the seller.
In today’s market, I would actually steer clear of the mass content method. My focus nowadays is primarily on user experience and quality content that I would be happy to share with anyone.
With the SERP marketplace as it is, algorithm updates and stiff competition, I really cannot see this kind of site producing a decent income. (If you have evidence to the contrary I am all ears!)
Example #3 – BorderCollieAdvice.com
URL – BorderCollieAdvice.com
Selling price – $15,100
Bids – 7
Net Profit – $2,000
As a dog lover (I have a Cocker Spaniel) I have always thought about creating a niche site around dogs. This site is exactly what I have always had in mind.
I love that they have chosen a niche within a niche and selected a type of dog breed to target. Border Collies are a very popular dog in both the UK and US.
With 8k unique visitors per month and 25k page views, we can see that there is definitely a market for this niche. People love their dogs, and if you need a piece of information that will help you and your dog, you will spend time looking for it.
This site has a net profit of $2,000 per month, which comes solely from eBook sales. So not only is the target audience engaged, they are willing to spend money. This is one niche I would seriously consider getting into.
How it’s Monetized
As mentioned above, eBook sales make up 100% of the $2,000 profits each month.
The eBook is selling at $27.97, which puts them at around 71 sales per month. With 8k visitors, that’s a conversion rate of less than 0.88%, now if you’re anything like me, I bet your thinking…
Geeze, I think could increase than conversion rate to around 3% quite easily.
Let’s say we did just that, which I think is very possible given the niche and target audience. We would be selling 240 eBooks per month which would equate to $6,712 gross profit per month.
(the Flippa auction states both the gross and net profit to be the same; however I do believe the seller will incur charges for the hosting and distribution of the eBook)
10 Months after the Sale
Reviewing the site 10 months after the sale for $15,100, we can see it is no longer ranking #1 for “Border Collie Training”, it now lies in position 7 (Google.com).
What is interesting from the SERP results is the 3 YouTube videos ranking just above this site.
I really like the dog niche, it’s the old cliché, people use “dog training” as an example of a keyword you shouldn’t target. In this case, a niche within a niche, it definitely seems do-able.
Here’s how I would tackle it.
Available Domain names
- BorderCollieAdvice.net / .org
- BorderCollieGuide.net / .org
Either of these domain names are a great fit for this niche.
SEO and Back links
I spent 5 minutes looking at recently expired domains over at expireddomains.net. One domain I did come across is this;
With the following Moz OSE details.
With a Domain Authority of 27 and 80 inbound links, mostly from other dog related sites, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up this domain for the reg fee and it would form the beginning of a private blog network.
In this example, I will use LongTailPro for my keyword and competition research.
Create a new campaign-
I have entered “Border Collie” as the only keyword, and filter only keywords with an exact match search volume over 50.
Let’s take a look at the results. (I have asked LTP to calculate the Keyword Competitiveness (KC) for some of the keywords I am interested in)
As you can see, we’ve got plenty to go at and if you spend longer than the 5 minutes that I did in LTP, you will find that there are plenty of other keywords to target.
I will save this campaign and refer back to it frequently when I need content ideas for my site. I aim for at least 50 article ideas, but it does depend on the size of the niche.
Quick Tip – Head over to Yahoo Answers and type in your main keyword if you are struggling for article ideas. There will be hundreds of related questions that dog owners want to know the answer too.
Some of the standout keywords for me are-
Border collie gifts – 170 US Exacts – Perfect buyer keyword, low search volume but a low KC of just 26
Border collie breeders – 2,400 US Exacts – I would create THE ULTIMATE guide to breeders and reach out to all the websites who make the list. I would use this as link bait in order to get some relevant/authority back links. (KC 31)
Border collie colors – I know from having my own pedigree dog that they come in a variety of colours. With 720 US searches per month and a KC of 30, it’s definitely something a user would expect to find on our site.
I really like the – White & Grey Dog WordPress Theme by Mercury, which costs $63 for a single site licence. However you could go with any clean theme, free or paid to begin with.
Our main keyword “Border Collie Training” would form the bulk of our homepage.
The inner pages or posts would be other related terms such as “Border Collie Temperament”, “Border Collie Size”, “Border Collie Shedding” etc.
I would ensure I linked to these inner pages from the homepage, or at least to the category the post belonged too.
A quick note on Posts and Pages in WordPress.
I go with the thought that if something is going to be written once and is evergreen, I create a page.
If however it’s a piece of news or you are building a blog – then add a post.
Let’s face it, 99% of the competition use the Google Keyword Planner or some variation thereof.
However by thinking outside the box and taking a slightly different approach, we are able to find a much broader range of niches and keywords.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it has made you think about niche research. You should check out my post where I reveal My Exact Strategy for a $1,000/month Niche Site and also How to Build a Blog Network – The Right Way.
I really enjoyed dissecting these websites and if you decide to follow my advice and tackle them head on, let me know in the comments.