Choosing the right niche is a critical decision when building or buying an affiliate site. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced investor, a strategic approach to niche selection can significantly impact your site’s success. In this guide, we present a 14-step data-driven framework for evaluating and selecting a niche, along with a checklist for easy reference.
Table of Contents
1. Analyze Number of Competitors (using Ahrefs)
When delving into the world of affiliate marketing, understanding your niche’s competitive landscape is paramount. Ahrefs, a powerful SEO tool, can be your compass in this exploration. Begin by selecting a competitor’s site within your niche and entering it into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
1.1. Navigate to Site Explorer:
- Once in Ahrefs, go to Site Explorer.
1.2. Enter Competitor’s Site:
- Input a competitor’s URL into the search bar.
1.3. Explore “Competing Domains”:
- Click on “Competing Domains” in the left sidebar menu to reveal a list of competitors.
1.4. Export Data:
- Export the list to your Google Sheet for further analysis.
1.5. Analyze Domain Rating (DR), Referring Domains, and Organic Traffic:
- Examine key metrics such as Domain Rating (DR), Referring Domains, and Organic Traffic. These metrics provide insights into your competitors’ authority and reach.
2. Check Authority of Competitors
Understanding the authority of your competitors is crucial for positioning your site effectively. Ahrefs’ Domain Rating (DR) and referring domains offer valuable insights into the competitive strength of existing players.
2.1. Evaluate Competitor Authority:
- Enter a competitor’s URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer.
2.2. Assess Domain Rating and Referring Domains:
- Note the Domain Rating and referring domains to gauge the authority of your competitors.
2.3. Replace “Nofollow” Links:
- Enhance data accuracy by replacing “nofollow” links with “Dofollow Referring Domains.”
3. Check Keyword Difficulty of Top Keywords
Assessing the difficulty of keywords in your niche is pivotal for crafting a strategic content plan. Utilize Ahrefs Site Explorer to compile a list of top keywords, their difficulty levels, and additional data for insightful analysis.
3.1. Compile Top Keywords:
- Enter a competitor’s URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer and export the top keywords.
3.2. Add Data to Google Sheet:
- Copy keywords, keyword difficulty scores, and volume into your Google Sheet.
3.3. Include Additional Data Points (Optional):
- Consider adding URL ranking, position, and estimated traffic for a more comprehensive analysis.
3.4. Sort Keywords by Difficulty:
- Sort the keywords in your Google Sheet by difficulty to identify opportunities with low competition and high search volume.
4. Check Content Quality of Competitors
In the vast digital landscape, quality content stands out. Assess the content quality of competitors within your niche to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.
4.1. Examine Competitors’ Content:
- Explore competitors’ sites to evaluate the quality of their content.
4.2. Identify Poorly Written or Duplicated Content:
- Look for signs of poorly written or duplicated content.
4.3. Spot Opportunities for Improvement:
- Identify areas where you can offer valuable, well-written content to stand out in the niche.
5. Check for Large Publishers
Navigating a niche dominated by large publishers can be challenging. Identify niches where smaller players can thrive without facing stiff competition from industry giants.
5.1. Identify Large Publishers:
- Search for indications of large publishers dominating your chosen niche.
5.2. Evaluate Favoritism in Search Results:
- Recognize the potential favoritism large publishers may receive in search results.
5.3. Choose Niches Favorable for Smaller Players:
- Opt for niches where smaller affiliates can thrive independently.
6. Check Popularity Trends with Google Trends
Understanding the trends within your niche is pivotal for long-term success. Google Trends provides a valuable tool to assess the popularity trends of your chosen niche.
6.1. Access Google Trends:
- Visit Google Trends.
6.2. Enter Niche Keywords:
- Input relevant keywords to analyze trends.
6.3. Distinguish Between Fads and Evergreen Topics:
- Differentiate between short-lived fads and evergreen topics with consistent or growing interest.
6.4. Explore Related Queries:
- Pay attention to related queries for additional keyword opportunities.
7. Check Search Volume of Top Keywords
Ensure your chosen niche has sufficient search volume by compiling a list of potential keywords and using Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
7.1. Brainstorm Keywords:
- Create a list of potential keywords relevant to your niche.
7.2. Use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:
- Input your list into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
7.3. Export Data to Google Sheet:
- Export the results into a CSV and paste the data into your Google Sheet.
7.4. Sort by Search Volume:
- Sort the search volume from high to low to assess the overall potential audience size.
8. Estimate Profitability of Similar Sites in this Niche
Estimate the profitability of your niche by analyzing earnings per visitor for similar sites. Leverage real-life examples, such as Motion Invest listings, to calculate potential monthly earnings based on Ahrefs’ estimated organic traffic.
8.1. Analyze Earnings per Visitor:
- Use data from Motion Invest listings to understand earnings per visitor in various niches.
8.2. Calculate Potential Monthly Earnings:
- Apply the earnings per visitor to Ahrefs’ estimated organic traffic for your niche.
8.3. Consider Other Revenue Opportunities:
- Explore additional revenue streams such as digital products or affiliate programs outside of Amazon.
9. Amazon Profitability of the Category
Analyzing Amazon Commission Rates
When delving into affiliate marketing, understanding the Amazon commission rates within your chosen category is paramount. Scrutinize the commission percentages offered for various product types. Consider not only the rates but also the typical price points for products in the category. This analysis will help you estimate potential earnings based on the products you promote.
Choose a niche where the commission rates align with your revenue goals and the preferences of your target audience. It’s crucial to strike a balance between favorable rates and products that resonate with your audience’s needs and interests.
10. What is the Typical RPM for Display Ads In This Niche?
Researching Revenue per Thousand Pageviews (RPM)
If your monetization strategy involves display ads, researching the typical Revenue per Thousand Pageviews (RPM) specific to your niche is essential. A higher RPM can significantly impact your ability to reach revenue goals. However, be mindful of the potential challenges in targeting low-competition keywords, as this may intensify competition.
Understanding the typical RPM for your niche provides insights into the revenue potential of your site. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about your monetization strategy, ensuring it aligns with your overall business objectives.
11. Is the Niche Seasonal or Evergreen?
Assessing Seasonality Impact
Determine whether your chosen niche is seasonal or evergreen. Seasonal niches experience fluctuations in demand and traffic during specific times of the year. Examples include Halloween costumes or holiday decorations. In contrast, evergreen niches maintain consistent interest throughout the year.
Understanding the seasonal dynamics of your niche is crucial for planning content and anticipating revenue fluctuations. Both seasonal and evergreen niches have their advantages and disadvantages, so choose based on your business objectives and tolerance for seasonal variations.
12. How Often Will Content Need to Be Updated?
Evaluating Content Update Frequency
Content maintenance is a key aspect of niche site management. Assess the frequency at which content in your niche needs updates. Product reviews often require regular updates to reflect changes in product offerings, while informational content may remain relevant for more extended periods.
Plan your content strategy accordingly, considering the balance between evergreen content and the need for regular updates. This evaluation ensures that your site stays current, providing valuable and accurate information to your audience.
13. Should You Pick a “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) Niche?
Addressing Google Scrutiny in YMYL Niches
“Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) niches, such as health and personal finance, undergo heightened scrutiny from Google. Recognize the challenges associated with ranking in these niches, as Google prioritizes expertise and authority. To navigate this scrutiny, implement tactics to enhance your site’s professionalism.
Consider the potential benefits and risks of entering a YMYL niche. If you choose this path, prioritize authoritative content, expert contributors, and a professional website design to meet Google’s standards.
14. Should You Pick a Niche You Are Passionate About?
Balancing Passion and Profitability
Assess the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a niche based on your passion. While passion can fuel your motivation and dedication to the site, highly competitive niches may require a more strategic approach. Balance your interests with considerations of profitability and competition.
Choosing a niche you are passionate about can enhance your commitment to building and growing your affiliate site. However, ensure that your passion aligns with the profitability potential of the niche, allowing for a harmonious blend of personal interest and business success.
14-Point Checklist for Choosing a Profitable Niche
- How competitive is the niche?
- What is the average Referring Domains of competitors?
- What is the average Domain Rating of competitors?
- What is the average organic traffic of competitors?
- What is the Amazon commission rate for this category?
- What is the typical display ad RPM for this niche?
- Are there other revenue opportunities like digital products?
- Are there other affiliate programs outside of Amazon?
- What is the typical price point for products in this category?
- Are keywords trending up, down, or flat in Google Trends?
- Is there sufficient search volume to grow a large audience?
- How often do you need to update the content?
- Do writers need specific expertise to produce high-quality content?
- Is the niche considered Your Money Your Life by Google?
- Are you interested/passionate about this niche?
While there are no guarantees in niche site investment, thorough evaluation can enhance your chances of success. This guide provides a comprehensive framework for making informed decisions, balancing competition, profitability, and personal interests. Remember, investing time in niche selection can be the key to achieving your goals in building a successful affiliate site.