A Detailed Look at My Top Earning Niche Sites

I received a few requests after my last income report to go into some more detail about my top earning niche sites.  Essentially, people want to know why these sites earn more than my others (and believe me – this is something I want to learn too).

Sometimes success is random and can’t be pinpointed on any one factor, but if you can figure out a few reasons why a site is earning well, you’re in a better position to replicate that success.

Top 10 Earning Sites from Last Month

We’ll start off with a chart of last month’s top 10 sites, sorted by earnings.  You’ll notice I’ve included some extra columns…

[Click image to enlarge]

Because “page 1 of Google” is the most relevant ranking information, I’ve listed the rank if the site is on page 1, otherwise I wrote “pg 2″ to indicate the site is on page 2…or I wrote “N/A” if the site isn’t ranked on page 1 or 2 for that particular keyword.  Keep in mind that this ranking data is for the primary keyword - this doesn’t reflect longer-tail, lower traffic keywords that the site receives visits from.

Instead of making overall generalizations about each site above, I’ve decided to tackle each site in some detail.  And yes, I will even tell you what the general niche of each site is!

1) Site #6

Primary Keyword CPC: $0.67

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 720

Broad Niche: Technology

I was surprised to see this as my top earning site – after all, it’s not on the first 2 pages of Google and the estimated search volume is only 720 searches per month.  How the heck did this happen?

I think this site is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t overlook Bing/Yahoo.  One of the reasons why I think this site is successful is because it’s a review site that’s primarily monetized through Amazon, and I think a lot of people turn to Bing when they are shopping online.  Being #1 on Bing allows me to capture that traffic and probably convert it a lot better than traffic from Google (which is actually almost nonexistent right now, so I can’t really compare the two).

Also, I will point out that this is one of my older niche sites (created about a year and a half ago as one of my original Amazon sites).  Because the search volume is low, it may not ever earn any more than this, but $35-40/month is great (that’s $420-480/year) and it only costs me $10 to renew each year.

2) Site #67

Primary Keyword CPC: $0.65

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 2,400

Broad Niche: Shopping – Household Products

The reason this site seems to work well is that it has a high click through rate.  Each individual click doesn’t pay well, but when you’re getting lots of clicks, it almost doesn’t matter.  One of the reasons the click through rate is so is high is because the ads are extremely relevant to the search, to the point where, when you land on the site, it’s difficult to not click on the ads.

This is definitely a site I want to put more of a focus on and add more content/backlinks.  Currently, the site only has 2 “real” pages of content (the other pages are the usual ones – contact us, privacy policy, about us pages).

3) Site #25

Primary Keyword CPC: $1.35

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,900

Broad Niche: Society/Relationship Issues

When I created this site, I never expected it to be one of my better earning sites.  The niche isn’t something that I think lends itself to ad clicks.  My gut reaction to the expected click through rate was right – this site’s click through rate is only 1/5 of site #67′s above.

So why is it doing well?  Even if you have a low keyword search volume, low click through site, you can overcome that by having a good ranking site.  This site is ranking #3 for its target keyword, and last month, it had the 6th highest # of page views of all my niche sites.

The lesson here is that you can actually target keywords and niches you don’t think are great if you believe you can rank highly (top 3) for your primary keyword.

4) Site #51

Primary Keyword CPC: $2.92

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,600

Broad Niche: Technology

This is actually the micro-niche site I’m currently most excited about because it’s for a product I’m very interested in, and I think I can get it to earn $50/month or more, despite the relatively low search volume.

Although I’m ranking #4 right now on Google, this is one site where I’m going to push hard to get to #1.  This is a great example of how it helps to actually be interested in the niche that you choose.  You’re more excited/motivated to work on it.

5) Site #5

Primary Keyword CPC: $0.76

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,300

Broad Niche: Men’s Accessories

This is another one of my original Amazon sites created over a year ago.  What I love about these sites is that I literally haven’t touched them for the past 9-12 months, and they continue to earn money regularly.

One thing I need to start doing is going back to these older sites to add content and make sure I’ve applied all the on-site SEO tactics I’ve learned ever since I originally built the sites.  It’s a lot easier to make more money from a site that’s already earning compared to starting a new site from scratch.

6) Site #69

Primary Keyword CPC: $0.57

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 8,100

Broad Niche: Food Products

Out of my top 10 earning sites, this one targets the keyword with the highest search volume.  As you can see, it’s been more difficult to rank (currently not on page 1 on any search engine).   Keep in mind, this is one of my newer sites, completed less than 3 months ago.

7) Site #9

Primary Keyword CPC: $0.38

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 2,400

Broad Niche: Pets

This was one of the first Adsense-focused niche sites I built, about 8 months ago.  This was definitely an “experimental” site in that I built it before really learning much about how to properly research and build these types of sites.

As you can see, I picked a very low CPC keyword in a competitive niche.  Despite the fact that I don’t think this site represents “good niche site work,” I’ve already just about earned enough to cover the cost of building it – everything I earn from this point forward will be gravy. :)

This takes me back to something I’ve always said – if you do it right, it’s not difficult to build a profitable site (even when you feel like you’ve targeted a poor keyword).  Granted, it might not earn a lot of money, but if you can at least recoup the cost of building the site, you’re in an excellent position.

8 ) Site #43

Primary Keyword CPC: $2.42

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,600

Broad Niche: Auto

This site hasn’t received much traffic (that’s why overall earnings are low), but it’s in a fairly high paying niche and the click through rate has been solid.  This is one niche where I believe the ads are very well targeted (which helps you).  The auto niche is notorious for spending lots of money on advertisement, so you can be sure that they are designed for great conversion.

9) Site #21

Primary Keyword CPC: $3.94

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,300

Broad Niche: Relationships

I don’t need to say much for this site, because it was the focus for my AdSense micro-niche site case study.  You can read all the details here.

10) Site #18

Primary Keyword CPC: $6.94

Primary Keyword Exact Local Search Volume: 1,600

Broad Niche: Health

This was another one of the first AdSense sites I built before I came up with my current “process.”  This site actually wasn’t ranking until the past couple of weeks, so I’m interested to see where the earnings go.

The biggest flaw in this site is that I don’t think it’s going to have a very good click through rate – therefore, the only way it’s going to earn decent money is if I can get it to rank in the top 3 on Google.

Conclusion

I’m sure you still have questions, but hopefully this article gave you a deeper look into some of my better niche sites.  I will definitely acknowledge that none of these sites are great successes.  I still consider them all to be works in progress.  Hopefully though, this gives you an idea of how sites like these can expect to earn after a few months.

Because I’m sure I left out information that you’d like to know, I’ll be happy to answer any questions about these sites, in the comments (except for giving away the URLs!).

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35 Responses to “A Detailed Look at My Top Earning Niche Sites”

  1. I noticed you mentioned ranking in bing. What are some strategies you recommend for this?

    I recently noticed that one of my niche sites was getting a lot of Bing traffic. I have not been able to pinpoint how this happened!

    Chris
    Chris recently posted… 7 Reasons your blog could fail: The pitfalls and traps to avoid

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Honestly, I don’t ever try to rank in Bing – generally, the things you do to rank well in Google will help you rank well in Bing.

    However, I have noticed that exact match keyword domains are given a lot of weight in Bing. If I have an exact match keyword domain but haven’t done a ton of SEO work, it almost always ranks better in Bing.

    [Reply]

    Ralph | Niche Websites Reply:

    I agree, Yahoo and Bing just appear.
    You can “add” your sites to Bing and yahoo but still it will do it automatically.
    Ralph | Niche Websites recently posted… How to Rank Your Niche Site in Google

    [Reply]

  2. Amazing..I have been following for few days back.

    This is a eye opener. I really would like to know how to rank better in Bing and Yahoo.

    As the example shows It will be better for us to optimize a tiny site for Bing and Yahoo to earn few bucks consistently.
    Would you please write a new post on it?

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    As I said to Chris above, I’m not sure there is anything you can do differently to rank in Bing, besides grabbing an exact match keyword domain.

    Ranking in Google should always be the priority – and usually if you do all of those things right, you’ll rank well in Bing.

    [Reply]

  3. Niiiiiice man!

    The thing I like (and I’m sure you’ve seen too) about these micro niche sites is that you can essentially sit on them and let them mature until the time is right.

    Some of the sites I’ve worked on, I let them go dormant for months before I see them get action and that prompts me to get back into them.

    Having so many, you can continually bounce between them, let them grow naturally, pick up some domain age and also update and tweak once you find some formats that work from newer work.

    They may not all make a whole deal of money but they’re getting there. Some will be complete duds, some may take off and do extremely well.

    Of all of them though, which do you think could become authoritative? Any hintings on whether it’s starting to take off?
    Murray Lunn recently posted… One Year Later: This Is How I Stay Productive

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Definitely agree. I like that the passage of time is a helpful factor in building niche sites, because I really like working on sites initially, and then letting them sit for awhile before picking them back up again.

    Also, it’s good for my tendency to always want to jump around and work on new things – keeps me from getting bored.

    I’m not sure yet which sites could become authoritative – some of them cover topics that are too narrow. We’ll see…

    Thanks for the comment Murray!

    [Reply]

  4. very interesting to see your keyword exact match figures. I have just started building niche sites, currently i have around 10 and the 1st few sites i built all focused on an exact match keyword of under 1000, most under 500 and the domain name was an exact match for these keywords. Is there a figure you recommend when choosing a domain name and its amount of exact match keyword searches per month?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Going with a search volume of <500 will allow you to rank more easily, but you have to be sure you can rank in the top 3 or so – otherwise, it may not be worth the time/money it takes to build the site.

    There’s no magic # that will work every time, but I usually aim for a minimum of 1,000.

    [Reply]

  5. Thanks for the post, it was informative to read that. I’m currently starting out on some micro-niche sites (mainly Adsense-based) and it’s interesting to read this. I’ve gone for higher search volumes though so it might be difficult for me to rank, but I’m glad that Bing seems to place more importance on EMD’s. I remember reading recently that the number of people who use Bing is growing…
    Liz recently posted… Så här går det till att sälja guldsmycken till Guldkit

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Liz! Yes, I think Bing’s market share has increased, and now that they have merged with Yahoo (I guess that’s old news now), the two combined account for something around 35% of all searches (I may be remembering that statistic incorrectly).

    [Reply]

  6. Nice stats…but I think you should try to make one authority site (10-20k exacts per month). These sites more trusted by Google and income more stable and solid.

    Regards,
    Eric

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more – of course, these sites do require a lot more work and involve a bit more risk. I am working on an authority site currently (I briefly discuss it in every income report) that targets about 18k searches. Currently, it only receives traffic from longer-tail keywords, but I try to work on it little by little each week.

    Ideally, I want my “portfolio” to consist of both micro-niche and authority sites, with a greater amount of micro-niche sites. While this may not give me the greatest income potential, it’ll diversify my overall risk.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    I feel the same way. With authority site you are putting all of your links into one basket. That always seems very risky! What about creating some other forms of online income? Maybe product creation?
    Chris recently posted… 7 Reasons your blog could fail: The pitfalls and traps to avoid

    [Reply]

  7. interesting post, was wondering how to rank better in Bing and Yahoo, like the fact that Bing places importance on EMD´s

    [Reply]

  8. Eric,

    How do you manage to keep up with multiple sites? What’s the plan?
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Through Extra Income recently posted… How I Broke (and Fixed) a Cushy Passive Income Stream

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great question Sunil – I’ve kind of taken a “spread thin” approach where the plan is to create a bunch of sites, and slowly add backlinks and content to each one. When I see a site has more potential, I gradually add more content (and backlink the additional content).

    In order to not overwhelm myself, I’ve stopped creating new sites for the time being in order to focus on my current sites. Now, given the fact that it’s tax season, I’m not getting a ton accomplished between February and April 17th. But I’m doing what I can, and we’ll see where it goes…

    In terms of organization, I have a very detailed spreadsheet that tracks the content and backlinks by site and by page.

    [Reply]

  9. Eric, nice post man!

    I have a question though, and please don’t take offense:

    Why do you think your sites are not doing as well as you hoped? Or rather, compared to someone like Spencer from Niche Pursuits or Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income? Do you think you’re targeting bad keywords, or maybe just not getting the rankings you hoped? Not enough backlinking?

    I’m just curious, because it seems like you have a lot of these sites, and the best one is only making ~$30/month. Of course that is nothing to scoff at, but I’d expect all of them to be making at least that ($1/day) for it to be worth my while. Any tips for someone just starting out at the niche site business?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Tipjar – I really appreciate the comment and always welcome criticism. It’s part what keeps me held accountable to the goals I set.

    From my perspective, I’m not at the point yet where I can say my sites aren’t doing as well as I hoped. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and it’s very simple – more content and more backlinks.

    I wrote a post recently that actually addresses your question in some detail, as it’s similar to one I received in another comment:

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/you-think-im-failing-heres-my-response/

    As for comparing me to some of the “big guys” like Spender and Pat, I’ll point out that the reason they are so well known is because of their success. There are probably hundreds or thousands of people who are not nearly as successful (and likely losing money overall) who don’t have a voice online, therefore remain unknown.

    I’ll also say that Pat and Spencer make it look easy – if you didn’t know any better, you would think they were printing money. If it were that simple and easy, you see a lot more success stories. Pat and Spencer are not only smart, but they work hard.

    Now, don’t take this to mean that I’m trying to justify failure by saying “success is hard” but they’re in a different realm right now. They work full time on their internet businesses…while I work 60+ hours per week at my day job.

    My goal is to prove that you CAN be successful while working a time consuming day job – it’s just a much slower process, and I’m not giving up yet.

    Thanks again for the comment! :)

    [Reply]

  10. I’m actually very surprised you went for the CPC of under $1 dollar and very low Search.

    But apparently it works I guess :)
    mmm, might have look what I can find :)
    Ralph | Niche Websites recently posted… How to Rank Your Niche Site in Google

    [Reply]

  11. Thanks for shearing this . it’s help me a lot…
    Great job… :)
    Nicole recently posted… claim back ppi

    [Reply]

  12. Thanks for sharing such helpful list, I’m actually planning to launch to my relationship site by next month. Right now I’m working on good quality content. Hoping I too can get good response.
    Arvind recently posted… Executive MBA Programs – Learn While You Earn

    [Reply]

  13. Got some valuable tips from this post. Must agree that never to take Bing for granted. Got some handsome traffics coming from them also.

    philippines outsourcing

    [Reply]

  14. Great post.

    Someone mentioned ranking in other engines.

    Well i know it may sound silly but i actually try to study Yahoo and Bing a bit in case Google will lose the market. Never say never!

    But really the rules are pretty the same – links.
    Cindy recently posted… Dating Stories Blog

    [Reply]

  15. With niche sites, most of the work is already done before you can see whether or not the project is a failure or success. So this is a great help to those people who wants to attain the success of their chosen niches. It is very tricky actually!
    Derek recently posted… Buy P90X

    [Reply]

  16. You’re already way ahead of 99% of people that try to make money online. I was sad to read you latest post about your Adsense account being disabled, especially because your blog was one of the ones that encouraged me early on to keep pushing forward.

    I’m curious to know if you will make any changes to your keyword research moving forward. Not implying the keywords had anything to do with losing Adsense, but you’ll somewhat be starting fresh if you create an LLC and build new Adsense sites, so I’m curious if you plan to follow a similar method.
    John recently posted… The “Death” of Private Blog Networks

    [Reply]

  17. I was amused to read “I will definitely acknowledge that none of these sites are great successes.”

    Your sites seem pretty darned successful from where I’m sitting. Sure, it’s not enough to quit the day job, but you’ve got all the basics down and have a great base from which you can increase your earnings and really start raking it in.

    [Reply]

  18. Hey Eric,

    Amazing earnings! You’re such a talented individual writing many blogs that mostly inspired all other bloggers in the world wide web. Keep it up always.
    James Martin recently posted… Watch the Olympics live online

    [Reply]

  19. Like your site and I’m mid way through the 4 hour work week book. I’m running some ‘test’ autopilot chapter!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Luke! 4HWW is a great book – you’ll definitely learn a lot from it.

    [Reply]

  20. First let me thank you for writing this wonderful post. Your article, your dedication and your patience motivates me. I made a hasty start by jumping into acquiring domains and hosting without giving much emphasis on keyword research but I’ll try to bring a structure. I can make a conclusion that targeting niche keywords with low traffic and low cpc can also be beneficial in the long run. I’ll make this note to myself and am subscribing to your awesome newsletter and including you in my ‘social stalking list’ (pun intended).

    [Reply]

  21. Just wondering, why do you not want to share the URL’s? Are you concerned about someone attempting to steal the niche from you? I’d think this is more of an option to gain clicks and some sales/revenue. Just my observation

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good question, Luke. I prefer to not share the URLs for a couple reasons:

    1) I don’t want to risk someone essentially copying the site and attempting to outrank it.

    2) I don’t want to risk receiving “invalid” clicks on ads, which could put my accounts in jeopardy (with the advertising company).

    [Reply]

  22. Eric,
    I’d like to ask you about hosting amazon niche sites. Do you host all of the amazon affiliate sites on the same hosting account?

    And how many amazon sites do you recommend per hosting account?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Yes, I host them all on the same hosting account. I actually have two hosting accounts, but that’s not necessary. Technically, you can put “unlimited” sites on a typical Bluehost hosting account, but I’d recommend no more than 100 (if you were creating that many sites).

    [Reply]

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