This is a guest post by Adam and is an update on his area of the war for Niche Travel Site Battle.
Many great resources have come from Todd’s Travel Blog Challenge site thus far, but this could be the best. The TBC is hosting a niche blog challenge, where five of us are competing to build the most profitable niche site. Of course there’s me from World Travel for Couples, Todd of the TBC and Todd’s Wanderings, Mike from Exotic Visitors, Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back, and Norton from Globotreks all taking part in this challenge. And while it may be a bit of a competition, we are all helping each other out, and the goal is for all of us to build a niche site that becomes profitable.
Luckily for me, I have been pondering a niche site since last summer, so it’s been in the back of my mind for some time now. There are several reasons why I hadn’t done it until now, but the main one is that I simply didn’t quite know what I was doing.
There’s a lot that goes into building a niche site that is going to be profitable, and it’s not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Like I said, this had been in my head for months, and I started my research back in early February, about a week before Todd announced the niche blog challenge. It was pure coincidence this happened.
So I thought to myself, “What is going to be my niche, my topic?”
The first of many mistakes
I know I’m going to make tons of mistakes during this whole venture, but I managed to start off on the wrong foot. I wanted something popular, right? Something that a lot of people search for all the time. So I started plugging in travel related search terms on Google. I wanted high traffic search terms. Ones that everyone searches for. So I came up with the idea to start a site based on the best US cities to travel in. Great idea, right? Everyone is always searching for travel related sites on New York City, Vegas, Miami, Chicago, and LA. Perfect!
So I started building the site. I even wrote a few pages. I was on my way, right?
It was about this time that I read about the challenge. Perfect! Not only was I a bit ahead of the game, but now I had a support network to help. This couldn’t have worked out any better. Or so I thought.
Once the challenge got underway, more resources became available to me. I had been ignorantly ignoring the importance of keywords since I built my first site about 10 months ago. Why? I’m not sure, but I did. Keywords seemed to be the word of the day when it came to building a niche site, though, so I figured I should start learning about them.
I took the advice of Mike from Exotic Travelers, an established writer and web developer who knew what he was talking about. I downloaded the free trial of Market Samurai and started learning about keyword research. I watched literally hours of video tutorials on the Market Samurai site before I even touched the software. I learned a ton not only about the program but keyword research in general.
As I was watching these tutorials, I came to the realization that I may have made a bad decision in choosing my niche topic. Turns out that this niche is probably going to be highly competitive without a very good chance of ranking highly for the right keyword search terms.
But I tried anyway. I began using Market Samurai to try to find the perfect keyword search terms related to my niche. I was pulling my hair out after a few hours because I was not finding much. It became beyond frustrating after a while.
After wasting the better part of a day searching for relevant, low competitive, somewhat high paying keyword terms and coming up blank, I decided that I should switch my topic. I know I already spent quite a bit of time building a new site, but I wanted to do this the right way. Besides, I own the domain name for 2 years and have some content up already, so I can keep that site on the backburner while I hopefully learn how to do this the right way.
The first step you should take
If starting a niche site like this, the very first thing you should do is keyword research. I can’t stress how important that is. You won’t make progress by just blindly jumping into a niche without doing any research. That’s one of the main reasons why the vast majority of websites fail. They don’t properly research their competition. How is little old me going to compete with Travelocity, Wikipedia, and Lonely Planet? I’m probably not.
So it was back to square one. I began searching all types of different things. I began with my favorite countries and activities. I tried a lot of different places and terms. Colombia beaches. Hiking Torres del Paine. Hiking the Inca Trail. Hiking Patagonia. Traveling in Patagonia. Buenos Aires attractions. And variations of all of them.
I didn’t have much luck until I got to Vietnam. After hundreds of searches, I plugged in cheap Vietnam travel. Analyzing the data is a whole different challenge, but after looking it over, I thought this could be a good one. I next checked domain names and found that cheapvietnamtravel.com was not taken. That pretty much sold it for me.
The new plan
Vietnam was one of our absolute favorite countries, and we traveled very cheaply there, so this became a no brainer. So I bought the domain name and started building the site. This entire process of researching keywords, deciding to switch sites, finding a new one, and building the new site all happened within two days. But it was about all I did for those two days.
The base of my new site is set up, but I have since been spending my time researching more keywords for my various pages. This is what’s been giving me the most trouble thus far. I still don’t know that I have a firm grasp on analyzing the data in Market Samurai when searching keywords. I kind of feel like I’m doing too much guesswork, but I guess we’ll have to see.
At this point I’m still researching keywords before I add more content and start thinking about link building, another thing I will have to learn about. For me, this whole thing is a big learning process, and it will be slow going as I want to do it the right way. My weeks get busier and busier with other work obligations as we approach the end of March, but I am hoping to have my site built with all content and start working on link building by the end of the month.
This is a guest post by Adam from World Travel for Couples as a part of the Niche Travel Site Battle.