Choosing a good website topic can be stressful. You’re going to put in a lot of effort building an online business around this topic, so you want to make sure that you’re not wasting your most precious resource: time.
We’ve already gone through a Four Step process for finding a niche website idea. This brief article expands on Step 3: Evaluate the Market, using our new-found Keyword Research and Competition Analysis skills.
If you were opening a new restaurant in a small town, you’d go and have dinner in each existing restaurant first. We’re going to do the equivalent in our chosen niche.
To evaluate our potential website topic choice, we’re going to build 3 lists:
- Potential Keywords
- Monetization Ideas
These lists are going to be critical as you develop your new passive income stream, so be sure you keep them in OneNote, EverNote, Google Drive, or wherever else you can find them and edit them as they will continuously evolve and grow.
List 1: Potential Keywords
Start with a list of keywords that you think are likely to be most relevant to your chosen niche.
Don’t just rely on the Google Keyword Planner. Use your own knowledge, frequently asked questions on forums, chapter titles in relevant books, and the other keyword generation methods outlined in this article to compile a list of at least 10-20 keyword phrases that you think are relevant.
This list should represent the keywords that you think are most likely to be used by your target audience. This is no time for long, obscure keyword phrases. We’re looking for the most common phrases plus a representative number of “longer tail” phrases.
List 2: Competitors/Peers
Now type each of the phrases from List 1 into Google. The resulting websites are both your competitors and your peers.
You will want to beat these pages in Google, but you also will want to guest post on or collaborate with some of them.
Typical competition analysis is all about seeing whether you can outrank your competitors in Google. We’re looking much deeper here. We want to click through to each page and poke around a bit. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is my first impression of this page? Does it look good? Is it written well? Is the design clear?
- Who does this website serve?
- Does this website directly compete with my own idea, or is it only somewhat related?
- How will I be different/better than this website?
- Is this website monetized? How?
- Is there an opportunity to collaborate? For example, can I sell this website’s products as an affiliate?
The idea here is to really get to know the landscape, so take the time to get to know these websites because this is where your future audience is hanging out now. Don’t forget Facebook groups and forums.
As you go, take notes and make sure you record the following:
- Domain Authority of the website (this is how strong the site is in Google, read about it here).
- Main audience of the website and how it differs from yours.
- Main weaknesses of the website.
- Any websites that you think are good targets for future guest posting.
Finally, as you go through the websites, sign up for all of the mailing lists. This is a great way to get ideas for what your own mailing list might look like, give you insights into how sophisticated your competitors are, and start to build relationships with your future peers.
List 3: Monetization Ideas
You should be building List 2 and List 3 simultaneously. As you see how other people are monetizing in this niche, you can add these methods to your own ideas list. You can also do your own brainstorming.
As you get to know a niche, you’ll see if there are a lot of courses or products already for sale. This will give you an idea whether you’re better off building your own products, or selling others, for example.
Depending on your budget, buy some of the products or sign up for free trials to get an idea of the quality. Can you do better?
Bringing it all Together: Final Website Topic Choice
I wish I could say that there’s a magic formula to tell you whether this is a good topic for your website. The reality is that this will be a bit of a judgement call.
You’re looking for a Goldilocks niche:
Too competitive and you won’t get noticed. No competition and it’s doubtful there’s any money to be made here.
You should also take some time to consider your competitors as people. This usually comes across pretty well in their sites. Are these people that you want to hang out with? Are they going to welcome a new voice who is passionate about the same thing they are, or are they going to play all sorts of cut-throat games to squeeze you out?
The ideal is to find a thriving community of enthusiasts who love what they do, are making some money, but aren’t that sophisticated about how they do it. This gives you room to shine in your new community.
Finally: Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by the stress of choosing your website topic!
At the end of the day, you need to go through the process with your brain, but choose with your heart.
You can always adjust your focus later once you’ve been operating in your chosen niche long enough to really get to know it.