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When it comes to selecting a niche for your new site, you have a lot to consider. Should you go into a product-based niche, or are you targeting informational keywords? Should you follow your passion, or should you follow the money?
Questions like these are really important to answer before purchasing a domain name and starting your site. If you don’t know what your goals are early on, it’s easy to go down the wrong path, which you might not realize until it’s too late.
One of the biggest questions you need to answer before selecting a niche is whether you want to go big or small. Broad or narrow. This is one where a lot of people get hung up, and with good reason.
The Pros and Cons of a Narrow Niche
By far, the most common approach when it comes to niche selection is to go narrow. By narrow, I mean sticking to a small niche, or even a niche within a larger niche. There are many benefits to doing this.
For one, by going small, you can typically rank your site more quickly in Google Search. When you publish a ton of content on a specific topic, Google will start to see your site as an authority on that topic.
Google’s not the only one you will please by doing this. Visitors to your site will also see a tight relationship between your content, which will give them the impression that you really know what you’re talking about.
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Another big benefit of going small is that there’s likely to be less competition, and if your goal is to rank a site without building backlinks, sticking to low-competition keywords is essential.
Because most broad sites tend to go after larger topics, instead of smaller keywords, they don’t target many of the long-tail keywords that you will come across in a smaller niche. This means that you can rank relatively quickly and easily by targeting these long-tail keywords that have been neglected.
On the flip side, there are some significant drawbacks to picking a small niche. The biggest is that you’re boxing yourself in and limiting your growth.
By definition, a small niche is going to have a limited number of keywords and topics to target. Depending how small you go, you might have a hard time coming up with enough content to create a meaningful income stream.
Even if you are able to come up with enough keywords to target initially, once you’ve exhausted those keywords, the growth of your site will grind to a halt.
If your goal is to sell the site, you might be okay with this. However, you’re still going to limit the amount of traffic and revenue that you or your buyer can potentially generate for that site.
Why I Go Broad with My Niche Selection
On the other end of the spectrum is going broad with your niche selection. To give an example, while I would consider targeting ice fishing to be a narrow niche, I would consider fishing in general to be a broad niche.
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We’ve gone broad with the niche selection for all of our sites, and it has clearly worked out well for us. That’s not to say it was the easiest path to take.
By going broad with your niche selection and domain name, you won’t get the benefit of looking like an expert in your field, like you would with a narrow niche.
This means it will take longer to grow your site. As a result, you really need to exercise patients to be successful. Being patient is difficult for most of us, but it’s even harder when starting a new site.
Whether going broad or narrow, you can expect it to take at least six months before you start getting a trickle of traffic to your site. You might not make your first dollar for a year.
Going broad means that this waiting time will likely take even longer than it would with a narrow niche. With that being said, the saying that good things come to those who wait definitely holds true in this case.
The biggest benefit of going broad with your niche selection is that you have a seemingly endless number of topics and keywords to target with your content. This means you won’t hit a wall like you might with a narrow niche.
If we go back to the fishing example, if you went narrow and stuck to ice fishing, you would be boxed in once you exhausted all the ice fishing keywords you could find.
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On the other hand, if you went with the broader niche of fishing, you could target ice fishing, fly fishing, ocean fishing, lake fishing, and many other topics related to fishing in general.
This means you could potentially come up with hundreds, if not well over one thousand, articles to publish on your site. By posting so much content, your chances of success rise significantly.
Think of it like a dart board. If you only have 50 darts to throw, you might only hit a few bullseyes (if any). If you have 500-1,000 darts to throw, you’re almost guaranteed to hit several of them.
By posting tons of content, you’ll have a better chance of hitting on a few winners, which won’t only bring more traffic and revenue to your site, but also help your site in general rank better in Google Search.
Going Broad with the Benefits of Going Narrow
As I mentioned above, one of the benefits of selecting a narrow niche is that you can give the appearance that you’re an expert in that niche, both to Google and to visitors of your site.
At the same time, the biggest benefit of going broad is that you will have a much larger pool of keywords to target. So, how can we get the best of both worlds? Well, it’s easier than you might think.
This is what we do when we create a new site. We pick a broad niche, but only post content on a small topic in the beginning.
To go back to our fishing example, if our niche was fishing, we would select a domain name that was in line with fishing as a whole. As far as our content though, we would only write articles about ice fishing at first. After we exhausted all the ice fishing keywords we could find, we would move on to fly fishing, and so on.
By taking this targeted approach, you can still get the benefit of being an expert within a smaller niche, while not boxing yourself in. In Google’s eyes, you can still be an authority on ice fishing, even if your overall goal is to target fishing in general.
Google doesn’t put much weight into the words within a domain name anymore, so even if your domain name targets fishing in general, as long as your early content is specifically about ice fishing, Google will treat your site like it’s an ice fishing site.
As far as your visitors, while some might see your broad domain name and be put off when they only see content about ice fishing, most people won’t even notice. This is due to the nature of visitors to an informational site.
With an informational site, the vast majority of visitors will visit a single page, get the information they need, then bounce. As a result, they won’t even notice that you only have ice fishing content on your site.
By the time you’ve exhausted all of the keywords you could find about ice fishing, you should be gaining a bit of momentum in the search results. At that point, you can move on to the next subniche, like fly fishing.
As you start to expand out, Google will start to see that your site is about fishing in general and treat you accordingly. Because you will have already gained some traction in the search results, you won’t struggle to rank as much as you would have if you went broad from the beginning with your keyword targeting.
This is the general approach we’ve taken with all of our sites, and it’s been extremely successful. Yes, it does take quite a while to gain traction, but our goal is to create a long-term income stream with each site, so the wait is well worth it.
Selecting a niche is a big step that can significantly impact the potential success of your site, so it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions to determine the goals of your site before moving forward, such as whether to go narrow or broad.
While going narrow with your niche selection does have its benefits, most of those benefits can still be had when going broad. By going broad, you’ll give your site a better chance of landing more winning articles, and at the same time, you’ll have plenty of room to grow as your site gains momentum.
This is a great article which i also noticed a few bloggers talking about this. I’ve one question, on average how many articles should be create to cover those sub-topic? Is there any minimum number of articles, let say >20, >30, in order to get better chance of ranking on Google.
That’s a great question. We’ve actually had really good success with topical clusters as big as 100 posts and as small as 1 post (as in no cluster at all). My gut feeling is that a cluster of 20-30 posts (or more) will rank faster and better than targeting random topics, but on one of our big sites, we post on just about anything within a broad overall theme that’s low competition and still have found good success.