Let’s be real.
The term “niche site” kinda dropped off years ago.
But every now and then you’ll hear it again–usually when some blogger reports earning $97,540 from a relatively small and site.
So are niche sites dead for 2020 and beyond?
- What about “authority sites?”
- What the heck is E.A.T. for SEO–and why should bloggers care?
- How important is niching down in 2020?
Jim Harmer from Income School is here to help us sort all that out!
Jim is an OG blogger who has earned millions from various niche site projects, Income School, etc. and is a long-time authority in the space.
Transcripts & notes are below!
Listen to my episode with Jim Harmer from Income School!or listen on Apple Podcasts \\ Google Podcasts
Resources and links mentioned:
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Below are some selected transcripts from the episode, relating to niche sites, SEO, E.A.T, and more.
What’s the difference between a niche site and an authority site?
Pete: [00:20:00] What is a niche site or authority site or if there’s a distinction at all, what is your context there? What does that actually mean now.
jim 2: [00:20:20] Where your question is, is going, is what I agree with. I don’t think that there’s really much of a difference between a niche site and authority site, but for context, a niche site is something that’s just a very narrow topic. I, you know, maybe. This is something like, uh, you know, TIG welding stainless steel, and it’s just all about how to do TIG welding.
Right? Um, whereas maybe an authority site is just metal work, , in general. And so, you know, the same principles apply. There are benefits and drawbacks to small versus big topic for a website. , I think this is more something that internet, the marketers want to talk about and really. Both ways can work fine.
The same principles would apply. I wouldn’t really even do many things different.
pete 2: [00:21:03] so my next question, I’d be curious to get your thoughts on. Let me give you some context. It, I was going to say our niche sites dead. That seems like a very like, buzz word
jim 2: [00:21:15] Yeah, it’s a good question though.
It’s a good question and I might kind of say yes, honestly, and here’s, here’s why. . With Google, they’re really focusing on EAT expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in SEO. Like you hear the Google engineers, if a Google engineer gives a speech, tweets, anything, everyone in this office is tuned in.
We hear every word we want to know. , and they talk pretty often on the Google, Google webmaster, Hangouts, etc. All they talk about for the last year is EAT. That’s it. That’s what they care about in SEO right now. They care that you are a trustworthy source of information. And so because of this emphasis on EAT, , and you as the author being a reliable person to talk about this topic, .
It takes a lot of work to establish yourself as some kind of authority in a space. And when I say authority, that is going to scare some people off saying, Oh no, I’m not in authority and quilting that I’m blogging about, so I can’t do this. No, you can get experience just through doing that thing. You don’t have to have gone to school for quilting.
Right. , and so that’s totally fine. Not a problem. They just want…
What Google wants is when somebody Googles. , what should I do if my left arm is, is tingling and I’m having heart palpitations and I’m short of breath? They don’t want to send you to a blog to some energy healer that wants you to roll metal balls around on your Palm and, and do Juju stuff.
They want to send you to a blog post that’s saying you’re having a heart attack. Call nine one and go nine one one and go to the hospital right. That’s what Google’s terrified of, is that they’re sending you to a good, reliable source of information, and this is true in every niche, but especially those that are medical, financial.
Anyway, the reason I set that context is if you’re going through the work of establishing yourself as a reliable source of information, why would you ever have reduced yourself to just TIG welding.
Why can’t you just choose a name of the website that’s just welding fanatics.com and then you can talk about TIG welding as your major topic if you want, but by just calling the website, welding fanatics.com instead of, I love TIG welding, then now you can expand as your site succeeds.
You could pivot if your content is not succeeding, etc. So. Uh, I would actually steer people away from this concept of the niche or, or micro-niche site, and instead of like S, at least with the name of the blog, go a little bit broader, something that still makes a visitor feel welcome, that like, Hey, this is the source for me, but go a little bit broader so that you can expand so that you can pivot.
What has Jim’s team done on their sites to build E.A.T?
pete 2: [00:24:07] Okay, so this is a great point. I’m really glad you brought this up. Besides just the name though, like obviously a bunch of people listen to this podcast. I already have a blog. , I’d be curious to hear how you, and specifically like the income school team or whoever have responded to that, is there anything else you’ve done on your own sites, whether that’s your main site or niche sites or whatever, , in response to this, like how else besides like a name, is there anything else you’ve done to kind of like, make that.
Uh, but better for EAT. What’s the word I’m looking for here? You know what I mean?
jim 2: [00:24:42] Yeah, absolutely. So the first niche site that I built was about pontoon boats. I wouldn’t build that site in 2019 2020 I guess that’s 2020 now. , I wouldn’t build that, that site today. I would build. Boats. I just decide about boats or maybe fishing, and I have content about boats. I wouldn’t build a site just about pontoon boats anymore.
I could have a ton of content on that, etc. So that’s one way that we have implemented is just getting a little bit bigger of a topic that we’re making a site for. Because somebody who is an expert on pontoon boats could also be pretty believable if they’re talking about a bass boat. Right. And so in terms of EAT, I think it’s a good.
Good choice to go as broad, um, on your topic as you think you could gain credibility with Google for that topic. So I think that’s the biggest way that we’ve, that we’ve implemented in our actual business, but it also creates a lot of problems for someone with a business like us. Two years ago, we set out on a mission to just create blogs like crazy.
Right now, our portfolio is loaded. We have. Outdoor troop and in Bora pets, and nobody tells you their niche site names, by the way, here you go. We’ll tell them to you. We have niche sites. Oh, we have outdoor troop and embara pets and camper report and dirt bike, planet, et cetera. Um, and we were just, , we had an office of 50 writers who are just mass producing blog posts.
And it was an awesome strategy for two years ago when we began, uh, today. I would not approach it that way because those authors know nothing about this topic. They have no EAT. Now. We’re focused on going much slower, going after bigger keywords and absolutely crushing every industry we were in with the absolute highest quality content, rather than the most volume so that no blogger can keep up with our volume.
pete 2: [00:26:40] Sweet. I’m having Spencer Haws and the podcast and like two weeks or something like that. I’m going to do the same thing to him. I’d be like, no, you need it. You need to like tell me the URL. I like each one of your, your niche sites.
jim 2: [00:26:50] You know, most of the people in the industry are very reputable and aren’t going to lie to you. But we have had a couple people, I, in fact I know of specifically who have YouTube channels and stuff who are saying things that they don’t actually even own sites. They aren’t even creating niche sites. Uh, we interviewed someone, Ricky and I did, and after, after the recording was over, um, like we said, so.
You know, we’re off the record, like, what are you working on right now? And he just told us, he said, you know, since Amazon changed its affiliate program, I haven’t really even been able to make money with niche sites anymore. So, , I, I’m not really even doing it. And we’re like, you’re, you’re business is teaching people how to do this.
Right? It’s crazy. But there are definitely those out there.
pete 2: [00:27:36] rock on. More power to those people. Good Lord, that makes me angry. So I want to talk about niching down and niche down. The riches are in the niches. I swear if I hear that phrase one more time, I’m going to explode by the way. , I want to hear it from Jim’s mouth though. How would you, because everything you just said about broadening your scope, about broadening your niche even, and not necessarily that you have to produce.
Content across like more categories that you don’t feel comfortable about, but specifically for branding and specifically for like, I’m going to say like the avatar, like those people might be interested in different kinds of boats, not just pontoon boats or whatever. How do you respond to like these notions that bloggers probably hear all the time, which is like the riches are in the niches, niche down, niche down, niche down.
How do you respond to that?
How much does “niching down” actually matter anymore?
jim 2: [00:28:27] Well. So I think there’s some value to it as long as we implement the advice correctly. So if I’m starting a brand new website, let’s say I’m writing a about, um. Oh, I had a photography blog for many years. I actually sold it a little bit ago. I sold that business a couple months ago. Um, but, uh, let’s say we’re doing wildlife photography.
We’re talking about, so if I were starting today, a brand new website about wildlife photography, the last blog posts I could ever recommend for you to write is best wildlife photography lenses. Don’t do this. , you’re a brand new website and there are behemoths in the industry who have a decade of, of history with SEO and millions of people going to those sites who have also written that blog post.
You’re going to get crushed like a bug if you write that. And so in terms of the. Content, the specific articles you write, I think there’s some value to the riches are in the niches. Don’t, don’t clot your ears. I just said it. Um, I think there’s some value to that in terms of the topics. Frankly, I think the reason that people say niche down and niche down again, is you’re hearing this from people who are successful in an industry and don’t want competition.
They’re like, you sure I did a site about general photography, but no, no, no. You should do. Wildlife photography in upper Northwest Maine. Right. Um, um, so I’ve been, sometimes that’s the, that’s the reason we hear that. . I think in terms of selecting the size of your niche, the most important thing to me is could I get to $100,000 a hundred thousand people a month coming to this site if no, unless it’s a very easily monetized double niche.
It’s. Probably too small for me personally to get excited about that industry. Um, so if there are 100,000 people who are going to be Googling that stuff this month, and you think you could get to your site, then I say, cool. Now that’s, I think, an important number. Uh, I had somebody who was making a website about.
Yellowstone, , and I don’t know what today his numbers are, etc, but I said, I think it’s too narrow. And so we started looking at some numbers, and I don’t, again, I don’t know the specific numbers, but let’s say there were 2 million people that go to Yellowstone each year. And I said, okay, how many of them are going to be Googling.
Okay. You know, specific questions about Yellowstone before they go, that isn’t going to be answered by the national park website itself. , or many of the others. And anyway, we broke this down and we said, well, all your traffic is going to come from the summer. And unless you have 100% market saturation, you can only expect about 50,000 people a month.
And I said, let’s just size up from Yellowstone to national parks. and I think for him that was a very important decision because otherwise you put a ton of work into Yellowstone lover.com and in the end you find that, dang, it’s just, it wasn’t quite. Big enough to bring in the kind of income that I wanted.
Now, obviously that’s just an example. I could poke holes in it myself, but it’s something to keep in mind.