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Case Study: My Micro Niche Site

Here's a case study of how I built a micro-niche site back in 2012, and how it's done over the years...

Building Niche Sites

I created the Niche Laboratory as a useful tool for researching niches. Read a case study here about how to use it.

So once you've done your research, what can you do with all that data? One great way of making an online income is to start a micro-niche site. The online world is pretty competitive these days, but plenty of people are still making a decent monthly income from online income.

About My Niche Site

OK so I'm not going to reveal the URL of my site. Really it's not relevant because I've had a 5 year headstart in the site's niche, and it's such a niche niche that you're unlikely to know anything about the niche either.

What I will reveal are a few facts about my site, if only to bust some urban legends:

  • The broader niche its in is quite competitive, but it's still not too hard to get traffic.
  • If you had an AdSense site in the niche, you'd probably be making $0.20 clicks on average.
  • So CPC in this niche isn't too great. However, click through rates on ads are well above average in this niche - you can easily get 20% CTR if you put your ads in good positions on your pages. What you lose on click value you can easily make up on click volume.
  • The domain name is a two word URL, i.e. along the lines of australianapples.com or swisscheese.org.
  • The domain name actually has a .net suffix. The .com was unavailable, and today there's nothing on the .com equivalent of my site.
  • The site uses Wordpress as the content mangement system and it uses a custom theme I bought back in 2011.
  • It's monetized by CPA offers. I did have AdSense on there for almost a year, but got told off for violating the AdSense programme policies. Incidentally, I believe the site makes more from CPA offers than it ever did from AdSense. Hmm, there's a message there...

My Niche Site Traffic Report

I built my niche site in early 2012, and at the time of writing it's August 2015. So how has my niche site done over the last 3.5 years?

Below is a chart of the monthly number of user sessions my site recorded:

My Niche Website Monthly Session Traffic Chart

So over the years it's had its ups and downs!

I started the site during the final few months of the golden age of micro-niche site construction. During that time you could use the Google Keyword Tool to find some lucrative keywords, build a 10-20 page site about them and then wait for the AdSense income to roll in. In fact I got really good at making these sites and at one point I was making over $1000 a month from AdSense alone.

Well those times didn't last and eventually Google rolled out the Panda and Penguin updates, which make it much harder to rank micro-niche sites, especially those based on keyword-rich domain names like mine is.

As you can see from the chart above, from July to December 2012 my niche site lost something like 80% of its traffic - mostly due to it dropping out of the Google index altogether.

I Beat the Panda!

I realised that I was in complete denial about my niche site building skills. I tended to quickly write low value articles and upload 2-3 new articles to my niche site every single day. I also made the mistake of unpublishing low value content from some of my other sites and republishing it on my niche site.

That was a big mistake!

Anyway, after about 6 months of very little Google traffic I tried an experiment. I pruned my site, getting rid of any low value content. Another thing I did was to add some useful tools to the site. These have great potential to get linked to and generally get talked about. To give an example, if you had a niche site about mobile phone insurance, then a really good feature to add would be an insurance premium calculator.

Finally, I wrote a couple of really great articles about my own experiences within this niche. There's really no substitute for having insider information on the niche you're trying to write about. If you use the product or service in your niche, then the words really will flow...

Another moral of my site's story - time is a great healer! Many people might have given up on this site during 2013, but then they'd have missed out on all that traffic that eventually came back...

And back it did! In September 2014 I recorded 242% more sessions than I did way back in the previous glory days of July 2012.

Keep Adding Value

The great thing is that my micro-niche site continues to keep attracting visitors month after month. So it's truly a source of passive income.

I don't rest on my laurels though. Every 6 months or so I spent 3-4 days writing a few more articles for the site, and making sure the existing content is still current.

I'd like to get the website visitors adding more comments to the site, as this is a great way of showing to Google and other traffic sources that your site is popular and is an authority in it's micro-niche. One good way of doing this is by writing a bit reviews and about scams that might be relevant to your particular niche.

Check Your Stats... But Don't Obsess Over Them!

Three years ago I used to obsess over my website visitor statistics. I'd like to know what keywords visitors were using, what content was popular, and where the visitors were from.

These days I focus much more on providing great content, and I rarely visit my Analytics account.

However, it is useful to take a look once in a while. The statistics below show that my niche site has room for improvement:

My Niche Website Analyitics Data

That big pie chart tells an interesting story: although my site gets plenty of visitors, it doesn't get many returning visitors. If you want to make big money online, then you need to create compelling content that will keep visitors coming back to your site again and again.

How can you get visitors to keep coming back?

About the best way to get repeat website visitors is to open a discussion board or forum in your niche. Follow that up by providing an actual service, rather than just writing about stuff. Or why not build out a membership site? In fact I actually went on to do this, and at the time of writing I've had over 1.5 million visitor sessions to my main site in the same niche as my micro-niche site.

Another important statistic that can be seen in the image above is that of bounce rate. This records the % of visitors who only visit a single page in your site. A lower bounce rate is better because it means visitors are much more interested in your site's content, and that the content is also interesting to them.

According to the statistics above, my site has a 68.5% bounce rate. This isn't too bad, but a truly compelling site will have a bounce rate of below 50%. By the way, a great way I've found to decrease bounce rate is by putting some thought into making the website's top navigation links more compelling in terms of being labelled with the most likely things your website visitors are interested in. Having a good header graphic is also a good way to keep bounce rates low, as is optimising your site and ensuring that it loads quickly.

Finally, the average session duration statistic for my site is interesting. Or rather maybe not that interesting. On average, visitors only spend 64 seconds on my site, which is OK, but I'm sure I can improve that figure!

Anyway, that's my niche website's story to date. If you want to ask any questions, or you have some niche site building tips of your own, then join our community on the Niche Laboratory Facebook page.