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How to Grow Your Niche Site: A 6-Month Strategy Guide

Have you just launched a new niche site, but are unsure what steps you should be taking next to grow out the site?

Oftentimes with a niche site, after it's been launched, ​there's no clear strategy guide to follow to ensure proper growth, both in terms of adding new content, and acquiring new links.

Well, in today's post, I'm going to show you my six-month strategy guide that you can follow to make sure that once your niche site is on the right path after it's been​ published.

More...

Since launching my Custom Niche Sites service two weeks ago, one thing that's become incredibly apparent to me is that one thing a lot of people are interested in is taking a new site and growing it out.

With my Custom Niche Site offering, what I'm doing is taking care of all the niche and keyword research, all of the content creation, and packaging it together with a highly-targeted and conversion-focused mega-homepage, in addition to some other standalone reviews, and some other goodies as well.

But once you have a new niche site with the homepage and some individual product reviews built-out, then what? What are the next steps to grow and rank the site?

New Sites Are Taking Time to Rank

Ranking new niche sites used to be quite easy. Spencer ranked his survival knife site from nothing to #1 in ... 62 days! That's how easy it used to be, and that was only two years ago, which shows you just how much has changed with Google since then.

Nowadays, ​after two months, there's a chance you won't be ranking at all. Take my Shower Specialists site.

This site was launched two and a half months ago ... and it's still not ranking (for it's two main keywords).

Now, there's an important caveat here: I haven't really tried to rank this site at all. I did use a Hoth package on it at the beginning, but outside of that, I haven't built a single link to it, and certainly no PBN links.

UPDATE: Thanks to one of my readers, Tim, for pointing out that Shower Specialists is actually ranking for some long-tail keywords. Here are the top 5.

But the point is that the days of simply throwing up a thin site, pointing some Web 2.0 links and blog comments at it, and shooting to the top of the Google SERPs after a couple of months are long over.

Ranking new niche sites takes time these days. And, really, when you think about it, that's a good thing.​

Patience Pays Off

Why is it a good thing? Well, two reasons for me.

One, what Google has done by creating the infamous "sandbox" of making new sites wait anywhere from three to six months to rank is that it's gotten rid of all the people who were looking to rank sites by "churning and burning".

What these people would do is throw together a very thin site, rank it quickly with spammy methods, generate some income, and once the site inevitable got penalized, they started again with a new site and were up and ranking within a month.​

Since Google has introduced the sandbox, these ​churn and burners have moved on to other affiliate marketing endeavors ... which means less competition for you and me. These days, one of the most important skills to have when building out a new niche site is simply having the patience to see it through.

You Now Have Time to Focus on Growth

Here's the other benefit of the Google sandbox: since you know that your new niche site will take anywhere from three to six months to start ranking, then that's one less thing you have to worry about.

Yes, obviously, you want to eventually rank your site; but when you're just starting out, that's no longer your #1 focus from the outset. No matter what you do, you won't be ranking on page 1 after only a few months.

And that means you can use that time in the sandbox to focus on other things, such as content creation and link-building. And since you have so much time to play with, this also means that if you want to, you can do a lot of these tasks manually, saving you quite a bit of money (if you want).​

So, what should you focus on in the first six months of your new niche site? Let's get to it.​

Months 1-3

Content Creation

As I mentioned in this post, I typically like to launch a new site with about 6,000 words of content. This includes a 3,500 homepage plus five individual product reviews of about 500 words each.

But then what?

The next type of content I like to add next are "informational" articles. What do I mean by informational? Well, these are simply articles relevant to your niche that are not monetized; so, they are NOT more product reviews.

For example, if​ you had a niche site reviewing spin bikes, you may write an informational article about training tips, like this one.

Or, if you had a niche site reviewing electric shavers, you may write an informational article explaining how to grow a thick beard, like this one.​

Obviously, some niches make this easier than others. If you have a niche site reviewing toaster ovens, for example, it may not be as easy to think of informational-type articles. However, you could publish some recipes focused on toasted sandwiches that would work. Just be creative.

How Many Pieces of Content?

In the first three months, you really don't have anything to do on your site besides creating content (and building links, which we'll get to). So you really should make it a focus.

There is no magic number on how many pieces of content to publish on your niche site, but a good number to target is 10-15 articles per month. This means publishing a new article every other day, or every third day, and that by the end of month three, you should have anywhere from 30-45 articles on the site.

Where to Get Your Content

There are two ways you can get content written for your site.

The first, of course, is that you can simply write it yourself! This is a great option because the total cost of adding all these articles to your site amounts to $0.00.​ Obviously, if your budget is tight and you are a halfway decent writer, then this makes a lot of sense.

If you don't mind spending a little money, then you can certainly have the articles written for you. This is what I do.

I was all set to write up an in-depth tutorial on how to order cheap articles​ for your niche sites, but Chris Lee beat me to it.

Definitely read this post if you are going to order content for your niche site: ​How To Get High Quality Articles Written For Only $5 on iWriter.

I've followed Chris's advice for iWriter and it works great. Chris orders 700 word articles for $5, but I've found that 500 word articles are fine for a niche site. And you simply cannot beat a 500-word article for $3, it's a ridiculous value.

Are they the best written articles on the internet? Of course not. And chances are, you'll have to do a little proofreading before posting them to your site. But that's fine.

Since these articles are informational and not designed to convert visitors over to Amazon, then the quality is not nearly as important. Chances are, not many people will be reading these anyway.

These articles are basically only for Google, so you are showing them that your site offers more than just affiliate product reviews, and that you are consistently adding fresh content to your site, which Google loves.​

So don't stress about the quality of these articles. The most important thing is that they are 100% unique; no spun garbage. 

People always ask me, "where do you​ get articles for your niche sites?" Well, that is the answer. 

Again, these are for informational articles, not your product reviews (that's coming soon). While you certainly can if you like, I don't worry about adding any more product reviews during the first three months, simply because the site isn't ready to rank. 

What kind of links should you be building to a new niche site? Well, there are two approaches: a paid option, and a free option. 

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

The Hoth

Regular readers of the blog know that I'm a big fan of The Hoth. You can check out my full review here.

When I launch a new niche site, or a new money page on an existing site, I will usually order up a Hoth package to build a nice layer of initial links.​ What I love about the service is that it's fast, efficient, and powerful, and takes care of pretty much all my non-PBN link-building in one shot.

That said, I realize that many people are operating on a stricter budget, and don't have $250 to spend on a Platinum package. ​So let's discuss some free link-building methods that you can do in the first three months of your site.

Free, Manual Options

The thing to remember about these free link-building methods is that a lot of them (or maybe all, really) are not really designed to give you a rankings boost. And that's fine

Their purpose is to diversify your backlink profile, both from an anchor-text standpoint, and also in terms of what types of domains and sites you're getting links from.​

For anchor text, you should really only be using generic and/or brand name with these links.

  • Blog commenting. An older method for sure, but one that I'm still using with my NS2. Two things to keep in mind with blog comments: one, make sure they are on relevant sites; two, make sure they are "genuine" comments (don't simply spam the blog-owner). Here's a good guide on blog commenting.
  • Web 2.0s. Again, these won't increase your rankings a whole lot, but it gives you a nice diverse backlink profile from some truly authoritative domains. Read this guide for more info.
  • Social bookmarking. Another older tactic, but effective for diversifying your anchor text. Here's Matthew Allen's approach you can check out.
  • Social media. If your niche is social media-friendly, and you have the time, then build a couple of profiles for your site, and start following influencers in your niche and sharing their content, along with your own. Read this for some Twitter tricks.

So that gives you some good free ideas for back-linking if you're not going to use The Hoth.

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of the Google sandbox is that we now have three to six months of "free time" to play with, so you might as well make use of it building manual links if you're looking to go the free route.

Months 4-6

Content Creation

So after three months with your new niche site, you should have a mega-homepage of 3,500+ words, five product reviews of 500+ words, and between 30-45 informational articles of 500+ words.

That's a good amount of content and should keep the Google bots happy, knowing that your site and content are fresh​.

In months four through six, I don't focus as much as adding new content. At this point, you've given Google a good amount of articles, so you can scale it back now.

In terms of informational articles​, you can add one per week and be fine, or more if you like.

In terms of product reviews, you can definitely start adding more; how much exactly will depend on how many products are in your niche.​

So how do you get product reviews written for your site? Again, there are two options, and they're the same as before.

If you're looking to cut back on costs,​ and you're a pretty good writer, then there's no reason you can't write your own reviews. This will save you a decent amount of money, and make you intimately familiar with your niche: it's a win-win.

If you'd rather pay for your articles, then there are a couple of different places to order your content. Instead of writing a massive guide on this, I'm going to link you instead to No Hat Digital, because this is basically the same process I follow anyway. 

Greg recommends using iWriter, while I use oDesk for my product reviews, but the process is effectively the same.​

Read this post for how to order product reviews: How to Get Quality Content from iWriter.

I will say this about hiring writers: it takes a LOT of trial and error to really nail down a writer that you're happy with, at least that's been my experience.

I've had to "fire" my share of writers, but that's mostly been due to poor communications and lack of meeting deadlines on their end. Really, the written product has rarely been the issue.

One additional tip I'll add is that you should give very specific instructions to your writer, so they know exactly what to expect.

What you should do is write one review yourself, so that it's exactly to your standards. Then, when you're ordering your content, you can send the writer a link to your review and basically tell them, write your reviews like this one. This gives them a template to follow and really helps a lot.

How much can you expect to pay?​

Since these reviews are for my "money pages", i.e., they're the most important words on my niche sites, I don't mind paying my writers a little more, because I want a good product.

Right now, I'm paying around $16 per 1,000 words.​

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

PBNs

Anyone who's been following the blog knows that I'm a huge proponent of using PBNs to rank niche sites. Why? Because they still work incredibly well.​

I wrote an entire post about using PBNs so I'm not going to repeat that here; you can check out the post if you haven't read it yet, as the same advice still applies.

One thing I will call out specifically is that several people have asked me "how many" PBN links do they need to rank a site.

The answer is that there is no definitive answer, unfortunately. Personally, when I was at this stage with NS1 and NS2, I was adding five new PBN links per month. I addressed this issue here.

The bottom line is that at this stage, PBN links are the way to go. Yes, I do run a service that you can check out here if you're interested. And yes, these links can get you penalized by Google, obviously.​

Guest-Posting

Think guest posting can only work if you run a real site, and not just an affiliate site?

Wrong.

With my NS2, I've been experimenting recently with trying to get guest post links. It has not been easy, but I've been able to secure a DA32 link and a DA24 link with my efforts thus far.​

The best part about these links? They are natural, relevant, editorial links that Google loves!​

While I would love to take credit for coming up with a new, brilliant outreach strategy for acquiring these links, the truth is that I simply followed this guide by Brian Dean. Give it a read.​

Wrapping Up

So that about does it: my six-month strategy guide for how to grow a new niche site.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.​

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

Mike Bradford
 

Hi there, I'm Mike, the guy behind Niche Site Azon. I made $32,000 in 12 months with Amazon niche sites. This blog is where I share my tips, tricks, and tactics to building and profiting from Amazon affiliate sites.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 43 comments
Ken - August 16, 2015

Thanks, Mike.

This was by far my biggest question once everything was up and running. I’m also a huge advocate of Guest Posting on relevant sites as long as you’re doing it right with legit people and not just clamoring for a link. Adding value to their site will often get you invited back and help to make some pretty cool online friends as well.

Thanks again,

Ken

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 16, 2015

    Thanks, Ken!

    Reply
    Juan Weyrauch - September 2, 2015

    I think we need to get out of the routine of whats right and wrong and simply look at the opportunity as each site is different and should be strategized based on this. If you don t take advantage and maximise opportunity s your competitors will?

    Reply
Duane - August 17, 2015

Good advice and tips Mike! I really enjoyed this post as I will be launching my first niche website this week. Therefore, this was right on time for me. Thanks for all of your help and keep up the great work!

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Sunby - August 17, 2015

Thank you Mike, that provide the best article! Manual backlink with web 2.0 what I want. I try find a few months ago about them. Today I found them.

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Al-Amin Kabir - August 17, 2015

For my niche sites, instead of publishing low quality informational posts, I more focus on publishing related product reviews, and product list long keyword posts (eg: Best Fishing GPS Under 250)

I, in fact, get more traffic on these posts than my main keyword. This type of keywords help me getting more low priced product sales that eventually increase my commission tier on Amazon. These posts are easy to monetize than informational posts you mentioned.

Your growth plan is awesome, btw, Mike! 🙂

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 17, 2015

    Thanks, Al-Amin!

    Yes, you definitely want to continue to add product reviews.

    But I don’t like having sites with ONLY product reviews – you will stick out like a sore thumb to Google as an affiliate site. I like to mix in more informational articles.

    Reply
Randy - August 17, 2015

Do you have any experience in using an expired domain to start a niche site? Say you found one in your niche that had good metrics, do you know if it would index any quicker than a fresh domain?

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 17, 2015

    I know a lot of other people have used this technique, but I personally haven’t. I like to use a new domain, just in case the expired domain you find is penalized in any way.

    Reply
Hooman - August 18, 2015

Hi Mike,
Excellent article and very comprehensive. You have detailed all of the ways to to grow a new niche site and make money from your blog. Very useful and that is why I subscribe to your blog. Thank you.

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 18, 2015

    Thanks, Hooman — glad you liked it!

    Reply
Theodore Nwangene - August 18, 2015

Great post Mike,
I like the way you took out time to write this article because many people don’t really know what else to do on their niche site after creating it.

I also agree with your point that the time when you can just create a few pages blog, do some blog commenting and start ranking high in serps is gone and this really made niche site creation more difficult.

Creating a successful niche site today is no longer easy but it will certainly pay of at the long run if you do everything the right way.

Thanks for sharing Mike.

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 19, 2015

    Great points, Theodore — thanks for sharing!

    Reply
Ian - August 19, 2015

Hi Mike

Do you bother with social signals at all on the money sites? I see a few people recommending using them alongside PBN links.

I’m also a fan of The HOTH – used it back in early June on an old Panda hit site I’d given up on and every week more long tail keywords are climbing in the rankings. Adsense from it is up from $2 / day to around $5 – 7 / day now.

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    Mike Bradford - August 19, 2015

    Ian, I’ve dabbled with social signals but can’t say I’ve spent a whole lot of time on it. I think it depends on your niche. Some niches are social media-friendly, while others don’t make a lot of sense.

    Glad to hear about The Hoth and your uptick in earnings!

    Reply
paul christopher - August 19, 2015

Thank you very much for this article. I use to make money from amazon, and i did about $8,000 last year from amazon and $8000 from selling the site.

But google update swept all my sites that was supposed to sell last year, i built another site this year but used a very bad seo service that got me affected again.

With your 6 months plan i think am about to bounce back into the business. I have been following your posts and they are really encouraging. I hope to see more success stories from you and also from me as i begin my 6 month journey.

God bless you Mike

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Tonmoy - August 20, 2015

Hello Mike,

I’s checking one my Facebook friend activities and he shared your this one. So, finally I’m here . And I read the whole article for more than 2 times. CAz, I really loved your hard works 🙂

I’m also so much serious and started with one but failed because My keywords research was not good and believe me I’ve already read more than 100 or maybe 200 Articles on keywords research and today I read your keywords research article also But Still now, I’m facing problem. I know there are some big guys and you also one of them and you also busy. But Would you have time for me ? (I may not pay you, your fee but I know you are helpful one, My Friend shared this on his wall)

I’m facing problem keywords research and content planing. I mean, suppose I’ve picked up few keywords
“Best elliptical machine
“Best elliptical
“Elliptical machine reviews

You shared on your keyword research article. but here are two questions come from my mind.

One is: There are also big fishes like Amazon, Ebay like eCommerce site so, How you will go with these keywords? Only for Long Tail Pro ? If yes then how you will able to beat them ?

And Sec is: How you will post the content? Like you said mostly we need 10-15 pillar contents and total 30-35 articles on our niche blog. So, how you will write these articles with only these 3 keywords? I’m really too much confusion.

I hope, you will give me a cool answer !

Regards
Tonmoy

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 20, 2015

    Hi Tonmoy,

    There’s a lot going on in your comment, but let me address your two questions:

    1- For the “best” and “review” type keywords, the Amazons and eBabys of the world can be beaten every time. How? Links. Personally, I use PBNs.

    2- Re-read the post, where I talk about “informational articles” — these are not written based around your main keywords, they are just general articles related to your niche.

    Reply
Stuart Walker - August 20, 2015

Mike, great post. You’re sharing some of the best Amazon affiliate site information out there IMO.

We’re currently talking about you in my mastermind group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nichehacksprivate/permalink/675049472596423/

Still really want to publish a guest post by you. 😉

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 20, 2015

    Stuart! I was wondering where that Facebook traffic was coming from 🙂 Thanks!

    Yes, that is still on my list. I’ve only been able to publish 2 posts per month on this blog recently, just been really busy 🙂

    Reply
Jane - August 21, 2015

Hey Mike

Good stuff! I just tried out iWriter. So far so good. It took only a couple of hours for the 1st article. I’m looking forward to your review writer post.

Cheers
Jane

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 21, 2015

    Hi Jane,

    Yes, the quick turnaround time is one of the best features of iWriter. Just make sure you check the articles for typos, etc., I find I usually have to make a few quick edits to the articles.

    Reply
Yeshua Quijano - August 22, 2015

Great piece of content! I’m following a 6-month timeline too which is basically patterned to your process – I read your posts at least twice and calculated the time it took you to reach front page. However, instead of using HOTH, I tried to do it semi-manually. I’m at the end of the 2nd month.

My goal here is to duplicate HOTH or maybe even make something better without spending 250 bucks. I made 7 web 2.0’s for tier 1 and now planning to increase their PAs with cheap PBN posts and other diversified links as tier 2, while keeping good anchor text ratios. I also outsourced a press release writing and distribution service for some genuine “white-hat” links and finally got myself a real social signals package that is being drip-fed for 30 days to replicate a “viral effect”. I have no idea if this is going to put me on the front page, but so far so good.

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 23, 2015

    Thanks for sharing, Yesh!

    I’ve been looking into press releases myself, as one of my main competitors in one of my niches uses them very effectively.

    Reply
Tim - August 24, 2015

Mike,

Your shower specialist is actually ranking:
http://prntscr.com/888ppu

It was ranking for 100+ keywords on 10 of July

http://prntscr.com/888pvi

Reply
    Mike Bradford - August 24, 2015

    Thatnks for that, Tim!

    I should have been more specific — it’s not ranking for either of my main two keywords yet.

    Are those screen shots from Ahrefs, from their paid account?

    Reply
      Tim - August 24, 2015

      Yes, paid account.

      But free account does the trick too.With a free account you can check 5 websites/day for free

      Reply
Bilal - August 29, 2015

Hi Mike,
Nice Guideline. you guide very well.i start a niche site.Hope i Successful in it.Thanks for sharing your experience. keep up it.Have a nice week ahead.

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Kali - August 30, 2015

i am not know much more about Niche site.But i learn many things from this post.Thanks for sharing with us.

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Shahidul Rakib - September 2, 2015

Hello Mike Bradford,

First of all, thanks for sharing a large content for us! I am a new website owner and SEO worker. Therefore, every point is like diamond for me because I have learn many things from your article.

I would like to know about the Guest post website list. I wrote many content for guest post but hardly get any website who posts the guest post. If you consider to show the right way to search and get the guest post, then, it would be great!

Thanks in advance!

Reply
    Mike Bradford - September 3, 2015

    Hi Shahidul,

    Guest posting is not easy, especially for niche sites. It requires a LOT of outreach, and your writing has to be pretty good.

    Reply
Raj - September 4, 2015

Awesome article, Mike. I have been following your ideas for so long and I like the way your articles are practical at most. DO you have any plans to write some detailed article on SEO??

Cheers

Reply
    Mike Bradford - September 5, 2015

    Hi Raj,

    Thanks for the comment.

    SEO is such a broad subject — did you have anything in mind more specific?

    Reply
Paul - September 5, 2015

Mike,

What’s your take on picking a domain? do you just go for some type of branded name like theknifeworld.com ? Or do you go for the actual kw in the domain like..

survivalknifereview.com ?

Reply
    Mike Bradford - September 7, 2015

    Hi Paul,

    I definitely use a branded name, like my Shower Specialists site.

    There’s no need to use a “best” or “review” in your domain name — you get zero benefit from Google.

    Reply
      Paul - September 28, 2015

      Thanks for the response,

      Is it bad to do PBN links in month 1-3? Should I wait for month 4? Thanks again!

      Reply
        Mike Bradford - October 13, 2015

        Hi Paul, you can definitely do them sooner, I just wouldn’t over-do it. 5-10 links should be ok.

        Reply
Catherine - May 30, 2016

What tools do you use to check if you’re ranking for KWs? Cheers!

Reply

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