Azon Station Review - Traffic-Generating Affiliate Niche Sites in 60s
What is an Amazon Affiliate Niche Site?
In simple terms, this is any site that earns from the Amazon Associates Program via affiliate links/banners placed throughout their site. The term 'niche site' itself can be pretty broad, as what you consider as a niche site may differ from person to person. In general, I'd like to think of it this way: AzonStation Review.
For example, TechTage is NOT a niche site, because Amazon isn't its primary source of income. On the other hand, sites like BestReviews and TheWireCutter can be considered as Amazon niche sites because they mostly make their money from Amazon's affiliate program. Even though they both are huge authority product review sites, they still rely on Amazon to earn most of their revenue, so their earning model is pretty similar to that of the smaller niche site's.
Now, those are two in a million sites, and not everyone has the time, money or energy to build such large sites. So, what most people do is to build smaller niche sites that focus on a particular type or category of products. For example, someone might have a site about toasters, or ceramic cookware, or baseball accessories, you get the drill.
Of course, you can create a broader site. Say, you create a site about all sorts of sports equipment, be it water polo, golf, billiards, or paintball. Can such a site work well for earning through Amazon? The answer is, yes, but it'll require you to invest a lot more time, money, and effort up front than creating a simple single-topic site.
If you have a topic in mind, it usually takes less than 2 weeks to set up a complete niche site with all of its contents. But obviously, that's half of the total work. The other half comprises of promoting the site, ranking the site on search engines like Google, optimizing target pages for better conversions, nurturing it properly, and scaling it even further once you start getting some positive returns. So, in this Store Buildr Review, I'll guide you through each major step below:
1. Finding a Suitable Niche for Your Site
I can't stress how important this step is, because 90% of the times, this is the what single-handedly decides whether you'll fail in your pursuit of ranking your niche site or not. There are 3 broad types of niches:
·High Competition Niches: These are your typical saturated niches that everyone and their mom is aware of. An example of this would be the laptops niche, as it's filled with reviews and round-ups from top technology sites on the internet.
If you don't have a huge budget, you can't and shouldn't compete with them. So, if you've started a niche site in a very high competition niche already, I'd advise you to sell it and start afresh.
·Medium Competition Niches: These are usually niches that you CAN rank in, but they will require a fair amount of effort and up-front investment. They are usually dominated by medium-high level experienced affiliate marketers, who can invest in premium site design, content and promotion without any issue.
So, I wouldn't recommend beginners to try and rank a site in a medium competition niche especially if you notice a lot of strong sites ranking on the first page of Google. An example of such a niche would be the home appliances niche, especially vacuum cleaners and the likes.
·Low Competition Niches: Everyone likes low competition niches (some even get stuck in the endless pursuit of finding a zero competition niche) because even beginners can create a site in a low competition niche and rank it with relatively less difficulty. But one thing people tend to forget is that there is a fixed number of product categories on Amazon and no "absolutely zero competition" niche exist as such.
There are two primary reasons why low competition niches still exist - Firstly, they haven't been discovered by the big players yet. Secondly, they discovered them but found their earning potential to be too less to invest their efforts. You need to keep in mind that, even though $1K a month might be negligible for the big guns, it's an awesome amount for a beginner.
So, with proper planning and execution, you can rank in low competition niches and perhaps scale the site to other relevant product categories to increase the earnings.
Now that you know about the 3 standard levels of competition when it comes to niche sites, you need to learn how to find a suitable niche for you that has the following properties:
·It's easy enough for you to rank your site in.
·It can yield you a decent amount of earnings when you rank your site.
·It has enough products and sub-categories for you to make a whole site out of them.
·You yourself have at least SOME interest in the niche. This is important, because if you start a site in a niche that you're clueless about, no matter how many tasks you outsource, you'll still fail to make a fair dent because of the lack of your own understanding of that market. For example, if you get bored when it comes to women's cosmetics and you still choose to create a site in that niche, you have a higher chance of failure than usual.
·It's not hugely hype-based and temporary in nature. (For example, the self-balancing scooters niche collapsed recently due to the a ton of faults in the products, and Amazon has taken all such products off their site)
·It's not very seasonal in nature. For example, if you target something like high-speed ceiling fans, the site would work well mainly in the mid-summer months, and not fetch you any decent earnings in the rest of the year. Even worse is a site based on a specific event, like "best valentine's day gifts".
Finding Product Ideas
Now that you know about the Speedy Content Club Review, how do you gather enough product ideas so that you can analyse the competition (more on this later) and research about it to make sure you really want to create a site in that niche? Here are a few ways of doing that:
Browse Amazon Product Categories
There's no better way than manually browsing through product categories and sub-categories on Amazon using their site directory. To avoid wasting time on uninteresting niches, you can only browse the sub-categories that you seem to have an interest in.
These are the criteria that I stick to while brainstorming for product ideas:
·Average product price of at least $50
·Average Amazon customer rating of at least 3.5
·At least 2 products within the top 1,000 best-seller list of its broadest category. You can check this via the sales ranks that are available below the product description.
·At least 500 monthly searches (local US) for either "best [product category]" or "[product category] reviews". For example, "best camping hammock".
Browse Sitemaps of Popular Sites to Gather Ideas
You can browse the XML sitemaps or on-site browsable sitemaps of large sites that specialize on product reviews. You'll get a ton of niche ideas that way. Even though you can't compete with them for what they've exactly covered in most cases, you can still get ideas about a broad category of products (for example, I can see some key product names like "modem", "printer", "router", "fitness tracker", etc. in the image above) which you can use to narrow down to smaller sub-niches under those broad niches and perhaps rank for those instead.
Use SEMRush to Get Niche Ideas from Top Sites
You can plug any big site that publishes product reviews into SEMRush and apply a couple of simple filters to get a lot of keyword ideas, and also see which keywords are bringing them the most traffic.
In the above screenshot, I've used BestReviews as an example, and applied the simple filter, "include keywords that begin with 'best' ". Similarly, you can apply the filter, "include keywords that end with 'reviews' ". In most cases, this will return only the pages of their site that are actively targeting a product review term, so that you don't waste your time scrolling through tons of other unimportant pages.
Analysing the Competition/Difficulty of a Niche
Now that you have a few product ideas on your head, it's time to move on to analysing Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) to find keyword competitiveness. Manually checking the first page of the major keywords of any product is always best to get an accurate overview, but it's very time consuming to check the SERPs of hundreds of keywords manually.
Keyword Research and SERP Analysis with LongTailPro
This is where LongTailPro comes into play. It not only pulls all the needed data, be it the monthly search volume, average CPC, the first page of the SERP for that keyword with Moz metrics, site age and other data, but it also utilizes its own clever algorithm to come up with a keyword competitiveness score (KC) for each of the individual ranking pages for that keyword, and displays the average of that as average KC.
(Click the Image to view it in Full Size)
Is KC a definitive metric? No. Is it a fair indication of how competitive a keyword is? In most cases, yes.
What I personally love doing with LongTailPro, is importing a bunch of different keywords and bulk checking their KC scores. That way, I can filter the high-KC stuff beforehand before moving on to checking the SERP analysis of the low-medium KC (I recommend sticking to keywords with a KC of 30 and less) keywords. It really saves me a lot of time, and speeds up the whole keyword/niche research process.
Also, LTP gives you the option to generate thousands of keywords from just a few seed keywords. You can even pre-filter the generated keywords by specifying how many monthly searches you're looking for, which words the keywords should contain, etc. For example, I can specify LTP to only return keywords that include the word "best" and have between 1,000 to 3,000 monthly searches. This way, it's a lot easier to avoid junk keywords before even having to go through them.
As far as SERP analysis is concerned, I tend to pick keywords that has the following first page SERP characteristics:
·Has at least 2 sites under DA 25 ranking on the first page.
·Has at least 1 site less than a year old on page 1.
·Has at least 1 site that utilizes Amazon affiliate links.
·Most of the sites should have less than 10 Juice Links (Dofollow links).
I've noticed that most other guides on Amazon affiliate marketing advise people to avoid keywords where there already are niche sites on page 1. I'm completely against this reasoning. When I see a fellow niche site ranking inside the top 3, that means I can do the same, if not better than them.
A Few Other Points about Keyword Competition Analysis
From time to time, you'll come across niche sites that rank really well and sit comfortably in the top 3 above authority sites in that niche. They might not have much domain authority, dofollow links, and yet rank that well.
The reason behind this might be the fact that they're using Private Blog Network (PBN) links that are hidden from common link crawlers. So, popular tools like Moz and Ahrefs can't really crawl those backlinks, but they're there nonetheless.
Before you finally decide on a niche, you can check the link profiles of each individual ranking page in detail using Ahrefs, because it has a bigger and fresher dataset than Moz. If I find strong, contextual links pointing at a page on an authority site, that's a negative signal for me and I really think hard before I can tell whether I can outrank that particular search result or not. The screenshot (taken from Ahrefs) below shows the top referring domains of a high-authority Amazon niche site. These sites are generally very hard to overtake.
If there are a lot of high DA sites on page 1, I still look at how aggressively they've targeted my target keyword. Most of the times, big authority sites miss out on including the exact keyword in both page title, URL, and meta description as they opt for fancy titles instead, which include variations of the main keyword.
From time to time, you'll see multi-million dollar review sites like TopTenReviews and ConsumerReports ranking well for the keyword you're looking at. While they are really a bit hard for a beginner to beat, I can assure that they're not unbeatable. In fact, one of my niche sites rank above both of them for a fairly competitive keyword. Was outranking them easy? No, but it was possible nonetheless.
I use a simple, free, web tool called AmaProfits to determine how much money a niche site can potentially make in a particular niche. It's not amazingly accurate, but it generally gives you a good indication of how much earning potential your niche site has once you put in the data.
Here's what successful Amazon affiliate marketer Al-Amin Kabir, of Marketeverfame, has to say about the earning potential of Amazon affiliate sites:
Al-Amin KabirFounder, Marketever
Most of the newbies don’t understand the potential of niche sites. In 2016, I would say, stop thinking small, think of bigger niche sites that will generate at least 5 figures per month within two years.
Amazon niche site income isn’t limited to $500 or $1000 a month. I have recently noticed an Amazon niche site (along with an AdSense site combo) is valued at $1.2 Million on EmpireFlippers! I repeat, $1.2 Million!! It clearly indicates that some marketers are making millions of dollars using Amazon niche site model.
How to start such a big site?
Well, start with a narrow topic and expand your vertical as your site grows. Publish a lot of fresh content on a regular basis. Target more keywords, and solve more problems of your audiences.
2. Choosing a Domain Name
Now that you have chosen a niche, it's time to pick up a great domain name which helps your site to identify with the target audience.
Brandable or Exact Match?
When choosing a domain name, the trade-off is between two things:
Keyword-stuffed domains like BestProductReviews.com aren't really brandable. They don't sound professional and might attract penalties from both Google and Amazon themselves, easier than a brandable domain, like ProductAuthority.comor ProductGuide.com
Besides, from my personal experience in the last couple of years, I've seen that the impact of having the target keyword in your domain name has kind of reduced. So, it doesn't really make sense any more to stuff the whole keyword in the domain name.
Which Domain Name Extension to Pick?
There are a few major top-level TLDs - .com, .net and .org are the most popular. Though there are a lot of new TLDs available and they rank just as well, I wouldn't recommend going with a new TLD because most people would have a hard time trusting a site on a brand new TLD.
Among the 3 tried and tested ones, .com is the most popular and it's what people are able to most easily connect with. So, in short, if .com is available, go for it without a doubt. If you are very pleased about a particular domain name but the .com extension is unavailable, only then choose .net, but I won't recommend going for .org at all as it's generally geared towards non-profit organisations, which your site isn't.
How to Generate Domain Name Ideas
I personally use NameMesh to generate domain name ideas when I myself am out of ideas. You can also use alternatives such as BustAName.
NameMesh sometimes generates cool-sounding domain names that are perfect for growing as a brand. It often adds unconventional suffixes like "ly" or "ista" to make the overall domain name sound cool. Afterall, "Kitchenista.com" or "ToothBrushly.com" does sound better than "BestToothBrush.com" or "KitchenReviews.com" - right?
Apart from that, you should always try to come up with unique, brandable domain names yourself because your brain is still the best name generator on the planet.
Which Domain Name Registrar to Go With
I usually go with NameCheap for all my domains because they are a very reputable company and they also offer Free WHOISGuard for the first year which renews at only 99 cents with a coupon.
WHOISGuard is very important here because if you are dealing with multiple niche sites, you don't want to keep your personal domain registrant details as a footprint between them (which will allow advanced SEOers to find all of your niche sites if they manage to find one).
3. Choosing a Fast Web Host
One of the most crucial aspects of building a niche site is choosing a decent web host. Choosing a cheap, low-quality host is one of the most common mistakes people make. Not only does a cheap host offer terrible page load times and overall uptime, they also suck in terms of support and flexibility, leaving you stranded with a broken website, with no one to complain to.
Anyway, I'm actually an enthusiast when it comes to web hosting, and that is pretty evident from the web hosting reviews that I publish here on TechTage. If you are a regular reader, you pretty much already know some of my recommended web hosts, but here are three web hosts that I regularly use to host my sites:
Honestly, it doesn't make sense to use a cheap web host when it's literally the backbone of your site. And also especially when you also aren't spending less in other areas like content and promotional strategies.
I've heard of pretty horrible stories about cheap web hosts ruining the process of niche site building for beginners. One of them even told me that his web host had demanded over $100 just to restore an earlier backup, after his site was compromised. That's pretty much as bad as it gets.
Now, you're finally ready to put your niche research data, domain name, and web hosting service to some good use. You'll finally be able to set up the actual site that'll hopefully be a big earner in future. So, let's get started with the site creation process!
Which CMS is Best? (WordPress all the Way)
The heading really makes it clear. There isn't really any other option that's as functional, flexible and useful as WordPress, especially for niche sites. Because, you want the site set up process to be as easy, fast and seamless as possible, and WordPress makes exactly that a reality.
WordPress has grown a lot since its humble beginning. It now powers even some of the most popular websites on the internet, and even constantly-updating ones like newspaper sites. Not only that, according to a survey, it powers more than a quarter of ALL websites on the internet.
Setting up a WordPress site is pretty straightforward, as well. In fact, you can set up the basics of a WordPress-based niche site in just 10 minutes, as my friend, who is popularly known as hekke, shows in the video below:
Optimizing Your WordPress Site for Speed
After you're done setting up the basic structure of your WordPress-powered niche site, you need to apply some basic optimizations that'll create a fast framework upon which you can build the rest of your site (theme, plugins etc.).
Since I've already written a pretty comprehensive guide about optimizing WordPress sites for speed, I won't rewrite any of those tips here, as you can refer to that post directly for speeding up your site.
Which Theme to Use?
Design is a very subjective matter, and design choices vary from person to person. But, in general, I try to follow the guidelines below while choosing a theme for a niche site:
·It needs to be optimized and fast by default. I hate heavy themes because they don't load that fast even on the fastest server on Earth.
·It needs to be compatible with the plugins I use frequently (listed below).
·It needs to be flexible enough to offer different content formats and enough customization options.
·The theme needs to be conversion focused. As my end goal is making the visitor feel like my site (brand) is trustworthy and get him/her to click on an affiliate link, I don't like themes that waste that space by placing useless design elements above-the-fold. I'd rather have a functional comparison table above-the-fold than a nice looking batch of icons with limited functionality.
·Mobile-friendly (responsive) by default. As a majority of my amazon niche site visitors use their smartphones to browse, I need to ensure that the content and pages scale properly down to their native screen resolution.
These days, I prefer using Thrive Themes on all my new niche sites, along with their proprietary Thrive Content Builder plugin. Not only does this combo allow me to create absolutely SLICK looking sites that look no worse than a proper authority site, but it also has a very positive impact on conversions.
I don't really recommend using a generic free theme for your niche site, because instead of helping, they really have a negative effect overall on your site's brand.
Basic Plugins that I Use on Almost Every Niche Site
Here are a few fundamental plugins that I use on almost every niche site:
·Yoast SEO - for a SEO foundation, as well as easy customization of various on-page elements like meta description, title tag and various robots meta settings.
·Akismet - to fight comment spam.
·EasyAzon Pro - for easily adding Amazon affiliate links to my content, and its awesome automatic link-localization feature based on the user's location.