The Shocking Truth About Niche Sites [a 1,027 Word Manifesto]

Death of Niche SitesAt the start of 2012 I decided to test the profitability of niche sites.

I heard a lot of great things about this income model and wanted in on the action!

For four months I worked hard on these sites.  And I’ve even made a little money.


I don’t believe the “niche site” model is a viable long-term strategy for affiliate marketers.

In this post, I’ll tell you why.  Plus I’ll give reasons why you should stop creating niche sites and focus on building a real, long-term business.

To start, let’s go over my…

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Last Niche Site Income Report[/title]

As you probably know, Google launched its Penguin Update in April. This was yet another algorithm change that’s designed to get rid of spammy sites.  Unfortunately many “innocent” websites were also affected by this update.

Like many folks, my niche sites got creamed by this algorithm change. Specifically, my primary money-maker {$600 in March} was heavily penalized. The end result is the earnings for April took a nose-dive:

[table id=5 /]

How does this compare to the previous months?

Here is what I earned for all of 2012 from niche sites:

[table id=6 /]

I suppose $3,048.75 isn’t bad for four months of work.  But, the writing is on the wall.  It’s becoming increasingly harder to make money with niche sites.  And it’s only a matter of time before this income stream dries up.

That’s why I’ve decided to…

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]…STOP Building Niche Sites[/title]

The Penguin Update is just another tweak in a long list of algorithm changes.  In the last few years, we’ve seen:

  • A Boston Update
  • A Florida Update
  • A Jagger Update
  • A Panda Update
  • A Penguin Update

Pretty soon…we’ll see something like the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Update. Maybe even the “Honey Badger” Update:

Google Honey Badger Update

(Thanks to Brock Predovich for the awesome image!)

What’s my point?

The niche site income model depends 100% on search engine traffic.  And it’s becoming downright impossible to rank these sites in the search engines.  Google wants large authority sites and will do its best to kick everything else to the curb.

Sure, some small niche sites still rank well.  But it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see listings completely dominated by large authority websites.

So I’ve decided to STOP building niche sites because…

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]…This Ain’t a Business, It’s an Arms Race[/title]

{Apologies to Fall Out Boy for the title riff}

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

Your niche site gets hammered by the recent Penguin Update.  So you feverishly look online for a quick solution.  You see  advertisements for “Penguin Slayer” this and “Google Killer” that.  All promise to reveal the ‘secret’ to improving your search engine rankings.

Perhaps you buy one of these products.  Maybe it helps your site recapture some of its lost rankings.

Then a few months later, your site gets hit again by yet another Google algorithm change.  So you’re back online looking for a solution to the Honey Badger update. 

Every update means you lose more money and more time. 

Focusing on search engine traffic is one big arms race.  Google ups the ante.  So you buy a tool that “fools” the newest algorithm change.  Then Google comes out with another update.  Yet again…you have to find another solution.  Rinse and repeat till you’re out of money and out of business.

My advice?

Stop focusing on niche sites because:


[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Solution = “Authority Style” Niche Sites?[/title]

I know some might say the solution is to build a small number of authority-style niche sitesSupposedly Google loves these.  They are like a massive authority site – But they can easily be outsourced.  All you have to do is set up the process and then kick back on the beach sipping your Mai Tais.

Unfortunately, I think this is also a bad business model.  Let’s say you have a site with hundreds of pages that gets lots of search engine traffic.  You’re sill depending on Google for your livelihood. If it doesn’t like one thing about your site?  It’s gone from the search engines!

My final gripe about the “niche income model” is the inherent lack of focus.  It’s impossible to build a portfolio of sites and fill each one with quality, shareable content.  Great sites require a ton of effort.  And you can’t give this effort if you’re working on dozens of different sites.

It reminds me of that popular quote:

[quote type=”medium” align=”left”] It’s better to do one thing great, than ten things fair! [/quote]

So What’s the solution?

It comes down to knowing…

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]…How to Build a REAL Affiliate Business[/title]

I suggest a radical idea…

Stop playing the niche site game.  Instead, focus on making ONE really good authority site.  Don’t worry about search engine traffic.  Instead build a large brand that can’t be “turned off” by any algorithm change.

A real authority site has many positive qualities:

  • It targets an ultra-specific niche
  • It is full of quality, FREE content that genuinely helps readers
  • It has loyal fans and regular blog commentators
  • It has a strong social media presence
  • It uses lots of multimedia like video and audio
  • It is “networked” with other sites in this niche
  • It has an extensive email list

Notice how “search engine traffic” wasn’t included in this list?

I think it’s time to stop worrying about every Google update. Think of search engine traffic as a a mint on your hotel pillow – It’s a nice *extra*, but you don’t worry about getting it.

To tell you the truth, I’m really happy about the Google Penguin update.  It’s the nail on the coffin for my “Niche Site Experiment.” Now, I get to dedicate my time to this blog.  No longer will I build dozens of “thin” sites.  Instead I get to make one, REALLY good site.  That sounds pretty exciting to me!

Stay tuned…

Take Action. Get Results.

77 thoughts on “The Shocking Truth About Niche Sites [a 1,027 Word Manifesto]”

  1. Like I’ve always been saying… build a site for people rather than the search engines.

    Yeah, that means you’ll have to promote it, you’ll have to write the kind of content that makes people come back for more… but in the end you’ll also end up owning your own asset, not a website built for Google’s asset. 😉

    This was a cool post Steve… love it.

    • Joe,

      “build a site for people rather than the search engines”

      Exactly, that is the way to see it. Even on my niche sites, I tried to personalize them to people somewhat, but while an authority site can -try- to get a little google love…it really doesn’t matter if you get it or not.

      It takes a ton more time and effort, but when you have something, it stands the test of time.

      Thanks for the comment joe!


      • Hey, Scott:

        So what are you planning to do with your niche sites? Are you going to let them die, sell or what plans do you have in mind.

        Great post. And look forward to hearing more on your various changes.


        p.s. Thanks for commenting on my FB page.

        • Missy,

          Not 100% sure yet, to be honest. I might try to flip one or two eventually. But for now I am just going to hold on to them. After all some still make a little money, they could always perk back up and ultimately, I have the potential to use them to link to other properties in the future.

          Thanks for dropping by!


  2. Great article! I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic! I’ve been suggesting this to others for quite a while now, and I’m glad to see someone sharing the same views!

    Great work!


  3. Hey Steve,

    Wow man, I never thought I would actually read about stopping the niche site race for good, particularly from you and on this blog of yours.

    But as you said, I’m equally happy to know you finally came to a conclusion about Google and their updates.

    I’m honestly sick and fed up of trying to understand every single thing Google does, if I was supposed to know everything they do, I wouldn’t have time for anything else.

    So I couldn’t agree any more with you.

    Building ONE good authority site, might be better than having n-sites spread all over the place and none of them being a good authority site.

    I really think there is still space for niche sites when the product is very unique and the competition is low but instead of driving myself crazy, I’ve decided I’ll turn strictly to Spanish based sites and see how Google deals with me there.

    Speak soon man and nice to see you’re back working hard on SSS.


    • Sergio,

      I agree with you 100%…and what a great comment.

      Surely there is room for some people to chase the niche site dream. I am sure some people will still make it work.

      But as a business model…I am not to sure about it.

      With a more focused market (like your Spanish sites) it could still be very viable. But when you have to gear up to beat others who are trying to beat the system…it is just too much.

      Thanks again for a great comment!


  4. Hi Steve,

    I absolutely share the same thought about “relying on Google is extremely risky”. No matter you are building a niche site or an authority site, if the business is relying Google heavily, it is at risk… Rather to build a list and have your own cult is the way to go for a real, long term sustainable business.

    Video and aged authority site (like blogger, typepad, etc…) seems favored by Google to rank at the moment (during this penguin transition period), I am sure they will be fixed up, just a matter of time. So, again organic traffic from Google is too risk for a business.

    • Ming,

      Exactly. Blogger and other aged sites are the way to go now…bt you can rest assured that they will be hit somehow next time.

      I am firmly convinced that traffic has to be solely the icing on a cake going forward.

      Word of mouth, video, and real authority are the ways to really succeed long term. YOu can game the system “for now” but as soon as you do, you can rest assured you will be caught up in a “slap” from Google sooner or later.

      Thanks for a great comment.


  5. Hi Steve,

    Great post! Is your no B.S. affiliate marketing guide a step-by-step course? Meaning, could one follow it and use it to get a site up and running or is it more about general principles and not really about do-this-do-that methodology? I’m not an IM newbie, but I am new to affiliate sites.


    • Mark,

      I would say it is halfway in between a step-by-step guide and a principles. I go over a lot of principles, and in some cases I do break it down to more specific steps.

      But I am not a huge fan of being to much of “rote” learning. Because i do think that every individual internet marketing niche has its own specific methodology that will work best.

      Best I can say is that it does have a 100% return policy through CB. SO check it out and if it isn’t what you are looking for return it.

      Thanks for the interest!


  6. I’m new to blogging for dollars, but I pretty much realized right away that search engine rankings were best earned by giving folks out there what they really want– quality content that makes their lives easier. Scott, lets be honest. That’s why you’ve been so successful. Although you made money with niche affiliate marketing, it was your ability to convey how you did it that has really shaped your online identity and made you into the authority you are today. It’s also why I read your blog.

    My ranking on Google isn’t that great right now (although I’m doing well on Bing and Yahoo), but it eventually will be because I’m trying my hardest to give my visitors what they want– tips that will help their lives.

    It’s good to see a fresh air post like this. Keep ’em comin.

    • Bill,

      It is tough starting out with a real authority site. Without some of the ranking tricks, it really can take ages to develop and get your word out there.

      There is nothing more disheartening than writing something you think is great and hearing crickets.

      But keep up what your doing and the people will come. The best part of it is that they will come independent of Google rankings. (although, those will likely go up)

      Thanks for the comment Bill, and good luck to you!

  7. Hey SS,
    I believe…you are correct. Big G (Google or Government…whichever fits the bill) has a way of complicating things, and with as many changes as Google puts out, It’s definitely a better idea to find something you enjoy, and work it, versus trying the latest SEO tricks in the books. Or, so it seems, anyway.
    I personally feel so much better not worrying about SEO stuff, and just on building a long-term business.
    Take care,

    • Brandon,

      Good principles. Never mess with either big G (government or Google) they will just find a way to thoughtlessly crush your dreams and aspirations.

      Thanks for the comment man! Have a great week!

      • @ Steve , you forget one other G (God). lol.
        When I saw your write up, I knew that was what I was looking for, I still have have about 25 niche sites in my portfolio though ( After all you preached it before). But now, I am super excited to see this write up because the last panda was also accompanied by major players of Adsense being slapped and some banned.
        Many are coming to same realization that this type of model that can be reduced to ground zero ” In a twinkling of one animal or the other update” is too risky a way to go, Besides, believe it or not, one of this updates will definitely be the ” Unicorn update”, update that is not geared towards frank SEO , but towards G’s Shares and profit.

        No loss, I’ ve already initiated the process of converting choiced niche sites to authority sites.Looking forward to your next article in this direction,

  8. I completely agree, Steve, I was losing interest in the niche site business before Penguin but Penguin has completely made up my mind for me. It’s authority sites all the way! 🙂

    • Yup Google has proven once again the disdain they have for niche sites. I am sure there will be ways to beat them (for now) but anything you do is ultimately short term.

      It is essential to be independant and create your future, when you rely on these others…you are just asking for the sky to fall down some day…

  9. Personally, I never felt like niche sites were good for the web anyways, the content was usually paid for and sub-par.

    Although, I had a site that was a borderline ‘authority site’ (backlinks mostly from guest posts) that got hit anyway, apparently due to over-optimization.

    Doesn’t matter, I’ve always felt email marketing has always been the way to go anyway. 🙂

    • Greg,

      I feel ya. I tended to err on the side of my niche sites being a little “bigger” (Most were about 10-12 pages minimum with a solid level of content…of “just” a heap of ads.

      On one hand, it really hurts to see these pages replaced by content that is not 1/2 as in depth as what I had…but still it all boils down to playing in someone elses sandbox. Those that do that have to be prepared for unfair decisions not under their control.

      Being a HUGE fan of email marketing, I have to agree with you 100% on your idea of that being the way to go. My main income is as stable as it ever was because I have always relied on email marketing…and there I have had no real fluctuation.

  10. The badass honeybadger!
    Have you seen those videos about this animal on Youtube? It’s definitely a fearless animal. It put its head into bee hives to eat the honey, no matter how many bees sting it in the face.

    It even steals mice and other prays from the mouth of the snakes. It steals their food… hmm, yeah, pretty much like Google…

  11. You are basically saying we must pull all our efforts into only one website and I kinda agree. I never had success with niche websites.
    But creating an authority website, its hard and very few people can do it…

    • Cristian,

      No doubt. Authority sites are not something everyone can do. Not because they don’t have the skills (Some don’t, for sure…but I don’t think that is the primary point of failure) but because they do not give it enough time and effort.

      One thing I have always said is that this biz is not about “easy money”. It is my firm opinion that it takes some time and effort, and trying a lot of things to really build a portfolio that works for making money online.

      My opinion is that most people fail because they come in with expectations that they will start to see “real” money coming in faster than it does.

      Thanks for the comment!

  12. I will have to disagree with you here Scott, but only in one part (and you’ll probably agree with me actually).

    I have 2 affiliate niche sites only with a few posts of content. They both earn me money, not very much cause I have never put more than 10 hours into either, but the thing is they still rank.

    Why? Because the content is good. I am not trying to whip up just crap to make a site that I can post affiliate links to.

    However, you are right that it is not a long-term income model but mainly for one reason: Time.

    We just do not have the time to manage 10+ websites with high quality content by ourselves. That is why the niche model fails ultimately.

    So the real solution to that type of issue for someone who wants to diversify with websites in many different niches would be to expand their business to the next level by outsourcing.

    I am not talking about the cheap outsourcing that delivers crap, but actually paying a very decent wage for a team of people. A group who does the SEO, one who does the writing/researching of content and so on.

    By building a team like that, you could make the niche website model work.

    Of course you can also build niche websites until they are producing a little bit of income and sell them for a whole lot more in a relatively short time. I know a few guys who do it with Adsense.

    But you’re right, majority of niche website owners basically just put up crap and hope to make money. Hell, that is what I did! lol

    I just happen to be a writer 😉

    • Greg,

      You do make a great point. One that I would certainly like to address.

      If niche sites are to work at all…content is of course essential. While I am sure many are still doing great, and I would love to say that content really matters… when it comes to Penguin I am not sure that is true.

      I have heard all sorts of complaints from people who had fairly thorough sites, they say were well written and at least “relatively” deep and thorough for their topics that were replaced by thin sites that were trash…and in one or two cases even material that was copied directly FROM the original site.

      Personally, I had this happen to me. A 12 page site, that was all original and fairly well written (if I do say so myself) that got trounced and replaced by a blogger blog that was (at least) on topic, but poorly written without any real information.

      Now this didn’t happen to every site, I think some of it had to do with bad timing on my part. My guess (and it is a wild ass guess) is maybe that I had too much exact match anchor texts. Given time, if these blog had been older, The anchors would have varied more and the effects would have been minimized or reduced. But like I said, that is all conjecture.

      For sure, writing original, engaging and “real” stuff is essential, whether it is a niche site, an authority site or just landing page copy. I do agree with that part for sure. If a niche site has a chance of working…it NEEDS this.

      BUT…I still stand by the fact that the greatest content in the world doesn’t mean that Google won’t step on you.

      Anyhow, on a side note, I am at least glad to hear that your niche sites are still chugging along! Thanks for a bringing in a great counterpoint.


  13. Actually, I’d still prefer niche sites, but more toward Authority site style ones. With my part-time scale, I would work on a few and post new content every few days. I’m trying to figure out how to be hand-off a little bit.

    Maintaining an authority site like SSS involves a lot of time and effort, but agree that this is the best business model. SSS is where I visit often and no need to worry much about Google traffic update.

    • Kent,

      So I assume your niche sites, like Gregory above, still haven’t been hit. That is good to hear.

      I am sure niche sites are still the right thing for some people. Specifically those that have their own network set up and a real process down. But I do feel the arms race on that is heating up and it is getting harder and harder to break into that market.

      No doubt, an authority site is not an easy thing. And like you and great pointed out.. a hybrid of authority and niche sites (where the content is deeper) may still be viable. Heck, for some thin one page niche sites may still be viable. But I do think the writing is on the wall.

      Of course if it is still working for you…you are doing something right…so keep at it bro! Good luck!


  14. Hi Steve,

    I’m sad to hear your niche sites tanked like that. Oh well. Authority sites are more fun in my experience… but only if they’re on something I’m really really interested in. Otherwise, I’d rather get a root canal.


    • Peggy,

      Haha, I enjoy authority sites more too. But while the “work” behind an authority site is a lot better than the “work” behind a niche site, there was a certain fun trying to research and plan niche sites.

      But I digress.

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for dropping by!


  15. Hi Steve

    What about the idea of Kindle books and how you have talked about them as being ‘niche sites’. It seems as though they are- but also that they have much more potential as a ‘niche’ model than the ‘thin’ websites. ie the info in the book can be good and buzz-worthy but you don’t need to go down the whole ‘authority’ route. What do you think?

    • Simon,

      Yes, I haven’t been thorough enough working on kindle books. (I am actually currently working on another.)

      I DO think there is still good potential for these. I just haven’t done ALL the work really required yet (past writing one).

      Getting those first people to take a chance on your book and getting that first buzz can be difficult, of course, but once you do, if the content is great, it does take a little bit life of its own and I would assume could not only be self sustaining to some point, but influence and send people to things LIKE an authority sites.

      So short answer, while it could affect getting a kindle book “rolling” with google traffic… I still think there is great potential here. (Hopefully more on this to come as I actually play with this more)

  16. Could your “niche sites” be turned into authority sites? Authority sites are only sites that cover everything about a topic no matter how focused that topic is. That’s what I have been doing with my sites.

    I had already come to that realization regarding authority sites before this last google update. I still have some work to do, but my sites only rose after. Trust me, I know my sites are not any better than anyone else’s. I was just lucky. 🙂

    But I started not worrying about Google after Penguin. I kind of think that to worry too much about Google is like rearranging chairs on the Titanic.

    Great article.

    Take care,

    • Donna,

      Ultimately I think your last line is telling…

      “I started not worrying about Google after Penguin”

      It may sound kind of Zen, but those who do not overly worry about Google are the ones who didn’t suffer from Penguin. Which is something I tend to think of as a “hallmark” of an authority site…

      But you do make a good point, a “niche” site could trip the line and become an authority site, if you have that authority and talk about enough aspects of the niche.

      Some of it is semantics. What you consider a “niche site” someone else might say IS an authority site, if you go into enough detail.

      While in -some- niche sites making an authority site out of it could be difficult. Let’s say you have a niche site that compares lawnmowers. Unless you are ACTUALLY a lawnmower manufacturer, I would think it would be pretty difficult to make an authority site out of that.

      But for other, less restrictive niches, I think what you say makes a ton of sense and is what people need to do:

      1. Become an authority
      2. Get traffic from sources other than Google (Email, Social, Forums etc.)
      3. Treat Google traffic as the icing on the cake…not the cake itself

      I love the Titanic reference btw! To continue the analogy, it makes me think that a lot of peoples reactions on trying to “beat” Penguin is similar to the dance band on the Titanic. The band plays on… It soothes some people, but the real problem is still out there… Sites that are independant of Google traffic are always going to do better long term than ones that are not. (and will GET google traffic too)

      Anyhow, thanks for a great comment!


  17. I am a long time reader and first time . I must say that a true niche site IS an authority site. I do agree that to be successful, you should not depend on Google traffic. That is the biggest mistake most marketers are making. I have never designed my sites for reliance on Google but just to get it indexed. I use the other methods you share above. And those methods are absolutely right. You rock !

    Google giveth and Google taketh away. I think affiliate marketers need to focus on great content instead of putting up sites with a few pages hoping to make quick money. And develop a great authority style site with lots of content.

    • Jah,

      Thanks for great positive comment! It sounds like you have the exact right attitude. I am sure there will still be ways for people to make money with the quickee sites, at least in the short term.

      But to get value, you have to give value and independence from google and building something to last just makes sense to me.

      Glad to see you agree, and thanks for the comment! Don’t be a stranger! 😉


  18. Hi Steve,

    Some people say that if you deliver the same information in different words across your posts, Google may penalize your website. And if I deliver new information in every new post, then my readers will get everything for free. In this case, why do they want to buy from me?

    • Hi Alan,

      I can understand your train of thought. However, let me tell you about me.

      If I go to your site and read your stuff and I think, “wow, this stuff is great” and it is just what I need at the moment.” If I possibly can, I’ll buy what you are offering. And it should be something different than what’s on your site. It could be more detailed. More step by step that stops info overload in its tracks or something like that. OR if what is on your site is not what I need right now, but it is great stuff, I’m going to remember.

      Check out how other people do it. It works. Because I have bought and bought . . . 🙂

      Another funny thing that kind of applies here or maybe not. LOL

      About 5 years ago, I was moving from city to city and I decided that I really, really needed to streamline my life. (I’m older and just have my cat to worry about.) I held an apartment sale. My goal was $200. I thought if I made that, then it was worth my time. Instead of the alternative of taking it to the local Salvation Army. People kept coming up to me and dealing. I was practically GIVING AWAY all this great stuff of mine. But it was fun. They were getting value and there was a lot of happy faces leaving my apartment. They told their friends and those friends came and bought. Toward the end, I started putting more stuff in the freebie bin. (Every garage sale has to have one of those.)

      Okay, I see I’m rambling and I digressed off the post. Why am I telling you all this? I made over $700. In fact it was $726 and some odd change. It was due to giving away or practically giving away what I considered to be of great value and customers spreading the word about that.

      I really learned a lot that day and I think it applies to our sites. I find that the more I give away, the more successful I am . . . AND that goes for every part of my life.

      Watch how Scott and other successful marketers do it.

      Take care,

      Aside to Scott. Thanks for letting me ramble off your post topic if you approve it. LOL

      • Thanks for a great comment Donna!

        I love the rambles. I can tend to do that myself in comments sometimes. 😉

        But yours was on point and a good story!

      • Hi Donna,

        I really learnt from your comment. If you don’t mind, I want to see any of your website to learn more from you.

        Thanks again for writing this long comment.

        • Hi Alan,

          You are very kind to say that.

          But at this point, I am still learning. There is so much trial and error involved. There are some things I believe I’m really good at but I’m still putting the pieces together.

          There are several people who have commented in this post that I have learned from in the past and have given pieces to the puzzle to me:
          Joseph Ratliff
          Peggy Baron
          and, of course, Steve

          These people can show you much better than me.

          Take care,
          Donna 🙂

    • Alan,

      There are quite a few reasons and ways to get people to still buy from you.

      As Donna said in her comment, when you impress people with the quality and quantity of information you give away fro free.. the word gets out. They tell people they know and become advocates for you and your brand.

      Some of it is knowing what and how to give away, and what to hold back.

      Let me give a couple generic example.

      If you are selling physical products you can be VERY detailed in the specifics and take that time and effort to find people great deals and often they will reciprocate and bu through you, since you have taken the effort to be complete.

      But lets be more specific. When I released my [pay] ebook I released an entire chapter for free. It was significant portion of the ebook. (the section was on keyword research) If ALL someone wanted was keyword research info, they would have gotten it 100% free.

      …But chances are they would not have bought the book anyway.

      What it did was give was demonstrate value to the people who might buy and give the people who wouldn’t buy anyway a good feeling that they got something worthwhile. Who knows, maybe they get something later.

      Even when you do give every single bit of information in your brain in a post, that doesn’t mean you cannot capitalize on it later.

      Almost no one reads EVERY post you will write. No matter how popular. One thing you can do is create a large body of work. Over time you will have many related posts on numerous topics.

      You ca then reformat these related posts (adding maybe 20% new material) into a kindle ebook and sell it for a few bucks (.99-5.99). Now that I am done spending time on niche sites, that is ne of the things I plan do do.

      I go deeper into that idea here:

  19. Hey Steve,
    thanks for this helpful article, Can we say now bye bye for niche sites? Can we say this method (N-Sites) will not make money? If we say YES that is mean the low of affiliate marketing and Internet business changed !
    What about your book (111 Affiliate Marketing Strategies for a Six-Figure Income) Is it included old methods?
    OMG what does google work with us 🙁

    • Ibraheem,

      I am sure there will be people who come up with ways to still make (N-sites) work. I am even willing to say that I am not expert enough in the micro niche sites, that It couldn’t be ME.

      But I do stand by the fact that this is an arms race. When you get independent of Google to a fair extent, you don’t have to worry about your income being crushed overnight and scrambling to recover.

      I would say also that the affiliate marketing and internet business IS changing…and really has been for a long while. Once upon a time you could put up a ton of scraped content and make a fortune. Most people agree those days are long past.

      As for the 111 AM book…. No mostly it isn’t methods that are affected. I may mention niche sites in passing on a few of the strategies. But generally not. Niche sites are something that I have been experimenting with recently, but they are not my “strength”. So I may have mentioned them a handful of times, but the strategies do not “revolve” around them.

      But yeah, I get your frustration with Google. 😉


  20. oh controversial post 😉 Do you not think you are perhaps freaking out a little too much though? So many people freak it when Google update … at the end of the day all Google cares about is giving users the very best content for their users. Niche sites can and will often provide that.

    • John Paul,

      Sure, I could be overreacting, and to -some- point maybe I am… for this specific instance.

      But still, it is a cycle I have seen again and again, Google taking steps against small niche sites and the sites taking steps to beat google in return.

      I am sure it can “still be done” but one of my big questions is that I think the EFFOrt of doing so may be better to be directed towards achieving success independent of Google and just using the Google traffic you get as a benefit, rather than the whole enchilada!

      Thanks for the comment!


  21. I Do Agree – With the amount of People and Data on the World Wide Web It’s becoming increasingly harder and harder to make money with niche sites – Not even to speak about the Google Penguin Affecting so many of them end the people that use them.

    • Anton,

      Another great point. More and more people are getting involved and the competition gets fiercer every single day. I have no doubt that there is still room for some success in niche markets based on the amount of people doing them (competition can be a good thing) But it certainly does add another layer of difficulty to the mix.


  22. Steve,
    I totally agree with you.
    I have abandoned and neglected all the niches sites i was building and is now focusing on building authority sites and e-mail lists.(they were all hit by Google panda or hippo updates(or whatever the call the next one)
    Niche sites may still work but depending solely on Google for traffic, income and the fact that Google keeps hammering on niche sites may finally kill this model.

    Its time to follow a proven Google proof online business model.

    • MK,

      Absolutely! NIche sites may still work to some degree. But they are a constant battle. Far better to focus on long term success that lasts! A real business!

  23. I think if anyone would know Steve, it would be you.

    I still have a few “niche” sites that are bringing me some money but nothing like they were. They aren’t keyword stuffed but I don’t continue to put fresh content on them any longer either. It was a very targeted niche so they did just fine.

    Things change, they always will so I also believe you can’t go wrong with building an authority site and making that the best it can be. I’m so happy to hear you say this and I appreciate you spilling the beans with us here.

    Great job although I’m sorry some of your sites were hit. Knowing you, that’s a very small bump in the road. So, here is to your ongoing success and continuing to teach us the right road to take.

    Have a fabulous weekend Steve.


    • Adrienne,

      Thanks for dropping by. Some of my niche sites werent really badly hit. Like you they still get -something- just not what I believe is worth the effort involved.

      Definitely better to pursue that long term affiliate success.

      Have a great weekend yourself!


  24. Just discovered your blog. Seems very solid. But unfortunately i feel reluctant to go through your archive.
    No dates on either posts or comments???
    How can i read about time sensitive subjects like internet marketing without knowing when its written?
    I can understand you dont want dates to show up in the serp but nowhere to be found on the page?
    To be honest without dates i feel cheated and alomost like you are hiding something.

  25. Dan,

    I know what you mean about having a problem with no dates.

    A lot of well known marketers are turning off the date because some people seem to think if something was written over 1 month ago it is out of date. When in fact, that is NOT true. I have turned off dates on all my sites also.

    The marketers I follow, such as Steve, are very quick to update anything that is out of date. They will usually put a note of some kind at the top of the post.

    Regardless, in this post alone, I have counted at least 2 times where Steve refers to a date. Such as “At the start of 2012 . . .” and “Here is what I earned for all of 2012 from niche sites:” and he goes on to list months, the last one being April.

    So if I was to guess, it seems this post could only have been written sometime in first part of May 2012.

    This doesn’t seem like someone who is hiding something.

    And you are correct: this is a solid blog.

    Take care,
    Donna 🙂

  26. Great post! I totally agree with you here – 95% of my niche sites were hammered by the Penguin update…talk about a wake up call! So now I am in the process of creating a few authority blogs that will have epic content and NOT rely on the search engines. It’s a lot more fun for me as well because instead of building tons of sites that do nothing for the user but instead try to “game the system” I am building sites that may actually change people’s lives for the better! So just like you, in a way I am happy about the Penguin update!

    Unfortunately, since people have been predicting the “end of niche sites” for years now, many people are continuing to try and find “quick fixes” instead of knowing that it is actually time to run away from niche sites now.

  27. Hi Steve
    It is nice to see such an honest post..

    I cannot agree with you YET though. I have a few tiny niche sites that have a sales page for the homepage and dripped content in the background. My sales have gone up to a steady pace and there is no extra content going in now.

    I was wondering what was going on?? These do not have advertising though, only one product per site. Anyway, these sites also hardly have no backlinks to them, yet they rank…

    Before these updates I was thinking niche sites were dead and now I am not sure!!!

    • Hi Mitz,

      If it didn’t happen with you, then you may consider yourself as a lucky one. I had two niche websites on the top of Google front page for product review keywords. I also run blogs inside those websites. Now, both websites do not appear in the first 100 places for the same keywords. And it happened in just one day. I also heard that some product review websites which had been ranking well for a long time had removed from first 1000 places on Google.

      Lastly, if you don’t mind, we want to see any of your niche website so that we can learn what things work even after penguin updated.

  28. I am new to building niche sites but you bring up an interesting point. We just don’t know what Google will do next. It is probably best to not put all our eggs in one Internet basket.

  29. I was badly hit by the Penguin update and your post gave me hopes that it never ends there. It’s a long way to go and I am sure there are a lot of ways to get back.

  30. You present a well reasoned case Steve. The only thing is, whoever abandons niche sites and switches 100% to authority sites is instead competing with amazon, wikipedia, and ehow etc, and we have all seen how often a certain search engine starting with a g favors those big boys in the search results.

  31. —————————————–
    h o w t o t r e a t d u n d r u f f
    Google Search — Im Feeling Lucky

    You made a great point that niche sites are no longer as profitable as it was. The decrease happened not only due to the update(s) but the value most niche sites offer to its audience.

    The explosion of niche sites with spun and hard-to-read articles were dominating the SERPs and they provide little or no value at all. If one finds it hard to read the posts – so does Google.

    People still want information. Be it a small targeted niche, or some broad general information. That is why I believe that niche sites are still profitable. Because there are people who are badly in need of the information you will give them.

    What site owners need is to provide interaction. Provide real expertise. And your audience will love you for that. They might come from other medium like social sites and forums, and who knows, with your social ranking and low bounce rate, Google will start to love your site. And rank it when someone typed
    h o w t o t r e a t d u n d r u f f
    Google Search — Im Feeling Lucky

  32. Hi Mark,

    Lots of great info on your blog. Just wondering, how much were you affected by all the changes with Google. I’m looking to rebuild my business, since I was almost 100% SEO and I’ve seen that crumble to almost zero again:(. With your overall strategy, has Google seriously impacted your income or your ability to grow your income?

    I’ve been so pigeonholed into the SEO game, that I really have much to learn about other ways to grow and build an IM business. What’s still working for you? Thanks.


  33. Hi Steve,

    Found your site via Pat’s reader challenge series. Love your site!

    I’d say the not all “niche sites” are equal.

    Most niche sites out there that have less competition, also tend to have less buyers and customers.

    But if you’re able to find “niches” that are really money makers then kudos to that!

    It’s just sad that most people see that in order to make the most money online one has to teach others “how to make money online”

    • Yes, definitely agree with your last point. There is so much opportunity on the Internet that has NOTHING to do with making money online. Picking a non-IM related niche has been the reason I’ve done well with affiliate marketing.

      Right now, I’m out of the niche sites game. But maybe if I find a more “streamlined” process (that doesn’t solely rely on Google), I might get back into it. But for now, I’m happy working on building up this site.

  34. Interesting article. I’ll be sure to stop by again. I have a bit of a combo of niche and authority sites. I’m going to keep working on each. I actually see niche sites as the logical first step in learning how to make money online. It is a heck of a lot easier to build a niche site and get it to page 1 of Google than it is to start with an authority site from scratch. Niche sites have a place. But I absolutely agree with your assertion in other posts about the need for diversity in online business. Keep up the good work!

    • Greg – I’ve done a lot of thinking lately and I do think that a “niche site” might be a good logical starting point for many people starting out online. Frankly, I know it’s hard to work for months on end and not see any measurable results.

      Anyway, glad to see you’re doing well with the niche/authority hybrid sites. Keep me posted on what you’re doing online.

  35. I have a few smaller websites at around 30 pages each that make up the source of my income so I’m not totally sold on an all or nothing approach with building niche websites.

    I like the diversity of having a few different websites to rely on instead of having just one “authority website”. I had (and still have) this old personal development blog that for a while made a killing but then all of a sudden lost it’s traffic and income in one update. This was a typical “passion project” where I had done nothing other than focusing on content and email. It still exists, gets about 400 visitors a day, but the income is gone and the quality traffic is gone too.

    My point is that it’s too dangerous to focus on one site. If it does not pan out, you’re screwed in that you wasted a lot of time and money. Some people spend over a year trying to build an authority site and get nowhere.

    It’s also stupid to build small 5 page websites. They can still work, but you made all the points I could talk about when it comes to these micro sites.

    Sorry for the long comment. I really enjoy your opinions 🙂 – David

  36. that google honeybadger is so lol steve
    i will try authority soon
    because i newbie in internet marketing stuff

    thanks for great post

  37. Niche websites still work in 2014. Yes, that’s right they work. If you add plenty of relevant content and build your websites for people, niche websites will still work.

    However, I still think the root of the problem is any one company having such a monopoly over the internet. I do feel google is favoring bigger companies with bigger advertising budgets. It’s hard to outrank them. And they are trying to get us to use their adwords tool, which puts money into their pocket.

    The writing does not have to be on the wall if we ban together and support other search engines. I miss the days when there were alternative search engines and Google was not King.

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