The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines a niche as ‘an opportunity to market a particular product to a particular group of people’. Macro and micro-niche sites require very different approaches to be monetized successfully. Therefore choosing between building a macro or a micro site is a crucial step when establishing how to market a product on line. Most marketers often overlook this step, and apply product marketing techniques to macro and micro-niche sites indistinctively. The term ‘niche site’ is usually used to describe what in this article I will be referring to as a micro-niche site. Such a Web site is aimed at marketing a product to a small group of people, who have some particular interest. We ‘aim’ a site at such a group by targeting specific keywords, for example, ‘make money online Yahoo Answers’, ‘how to reduce fat in the thighs for women’ or ‘home based dog training’.
To be more specific, start first with a broad topic, for example, ‘make money’. Obviously, we do not want to market our products by targeting such a popular phrase. Although a high volume of traffic and value is desirable, common keywords will also bring a high level of competition. Such a choice is exactly how to market a product starting on the wrong foot. Therefore, use an application such as Market Samurai to find out a wide variety of specific keywords that real people search for daily in Google. Market Samurai can do this automatically by extracting the data from Google’s Keyword Planner. As an example, Market Samurai says that ‘how to market a product’ is a good keyword to tackle in the make-money niche. It obviously has lower traffic and value than the broader ‘make money’, but it also has a much lower competition. Having found the keywords for the micro-niche site, finding an exact match domain is an option to consider. If an exact domain is not available, Market Samurai can help finding a partial match domain. Please note, however, that since June 2013, Google started penalizing partial match domains that contain commonly used prefixes and suffixes. For simplicity’s sake let us say that my keyword is “arthur” as an example. A tutorial on how to market a product like that would be pretty interesting… In that case, www.arthur.com is an exact match domain that consists of the keyword alone and the extension (.com). Examples of partial match domains would be www.earthur.com or www.arthursite.com. In the first example, the prefix ‘e’ is added to the main keyword, and in the second one the suffix ‘site’ is added. ‘e’ and ‘site’ are standard add on words that are now penalized by Google, so if you use Market Samurai, make sure that you add a custom list that makes sense, for example “www.arthursblog.com” or “www.arthurssite.com“. Note that “ssite” is considered a different suffix from the standard suffix “site“. After choosing the domain, add articles, pictures, galleries, videos or other content that will be used to market the product or service, which you are promoting, effectively and make sure it is optimized for the chosen keywords. This means including the actual phrase a few times (three or four times is necessary and sufficient), derivative long tail keywords and semantic long tail keywords. This means, if ‘making money online’ is your keyword, “making money online fast” would be a long tail derivative and ‘earning cash online effectively’ will be a long tail semantic . Long tail derivative refers to an extended keyword that contains the complete original phrase, where as a long tail semantic contains synonyms of at least one keyword in the whole phrase but not the phrase itself. In order to start receiving traffic and thus visitors to whom to sell products or services, the site is optimized for search engines. And that is it! This is basically how to advertise a brand effectively with a micro-niche site. Exploring SEO techniques is beyond the scope of this article. What needs to be done is creating backlinks, doing social bookmarking or guest blogging and from time to time adding a bit of new content to keep the site fresh. This will be covered in detail elsewhere.
Here is why I think that micro-niche sites plainly suck:
Google does not like them and is doing their utmost to punish such sites with the penalties getting harsher month after month*. Ask yourself if you wish to build a site and spend much energy on a project only to see Google trash it in their sandbox! ‘Google sandbox’ refers to blacklisted sites that do not show up in any results due to penalties.
Micro-niche sites are built to make money. They add little to no value to Web surfers or the Internet as a whole. Do you want to be an Internet Marketer who makes some money on line, or would you rather be that marketer, the one known for adding great quality to the Internet, and who provides valuable products, while making even more money?
Smaller-niche sites sooner or later end in the trash. Google’s penalties, passing trends, new competitors…you name it! The goal of a great money-earning site has to be long term recurring income. Are you OK spending all your energy and time to build something that will no longer be there in a year or two?
They are boring!!! OK, that is definitely subjective, but talking about the same topic, over and over and over again really drains out my energy. Are you starting an on line career because you want to do a job you enjoy and you are passionate about or do you just want to pass from the frying pan to the sauce pan?
It’s hard to use inbound marketing with micro-niche sites, since the limited audience does not give much room to turn your visitors into leads or fans of your brand. Turning a visitor to your site into a fan of your brand is the biggest achievement a marketer can make. Fans not only may occasionally also become customers, but they will likely, spread the word.
[* Little note added on 1st December 2013: A few weeks after I wrote this article, Google announced their Humming Bird Update that punishes thin content.]
The alternative to a micro-niche site is a macro-niche site. While making my research for writing this article, I realized that many marketers out there, even some notable folks, do not seem to realize the basic difference between a micro and a macro-niche Web site. I have even read posts where people were stating that ‘macro-niche sites’ do not exist and that it is a made-up term. Sure, that is not the case! ‘Micro’ is the Latin combined form of the Greek mikros, which means ‘small’. Micro-Niche Site is a term everyone uses and its validity is not being questioned. If we agree that there are small-niche sites, large-niche sites have to exist too otherwise we might as well drop the ‘micro’. In my opinion, a great way to define the difference between a micro and a macro-niche site is this:
“A micro-niche site is a Web site that is optimized only for a single set of keywords where as a macro-niche site is a Web site that is relevant to multiple sets of keywords”
This is a key concept that needs to be taken into account in order to understand how to market services and products in a most effective way. The most important thing to note is that this definition does not take into account the size of the niche itself. That is just a matter of numbers. The importance is shifted on the structure of the site itself. However, the definition is also remarkably spot on because if we are targeting a small long tail keyword niche on its own, the site we shall use will be optimized for that single keyword, and thus it will also be a micro-niche site, as per above definition. If we are tackling a more competitive shorter phrase, we will likely have to optimize for other keywords as well (sometimes even if that is not what is intended), and so, again by the above definition, it is a macro site.
Note that I used ‘relevant’ rather than ‘optimized’ in the definition of a macro site. This is of special importance since, although micro-niche sites are always prepared for SEO intentionally with the purpose of using them to market a product, macro-niche sites can either be optimized in exactly the same way as micro sites, or they can also become relevant to particular sets of keywords without any SEO being carried out. Example: a forum on Superman ranks high on Google and also has a Page Rank 5, say. Page Rank is a number from zero to ten assigned by Google to a Web site. The higher the number, the more important the site is, in Google’s eyes. Different pages on the same domain (Web site) may have different page ranks. Someone opens a thread on the Superman forum about a possible duel between Wonder Woman and the Man of Steal. The thread gets hot (receives many replies), and because it is hosted on a trusted domain, Google decides to attribute a high PR to the thread about Wonder Woman. Thus that page on the forum becomes optimized for the keywords “Wonder Woman“ naturally. I’ll be back on this point in a moment.