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Many people are saying that niche sites are dead or, at least, that they’re dying. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
For the reasons I explained here, I think niche sites still have a role in the Internet ecosystem.
Will niche sites last forever? Probably not. Nothing lasts “forever“.
I love AI and can geek over it all day long, but I believe effective personalized AI agents are still a few years into the future. Until we get to that point, people will need websites.
Sure, many sites were hit during the recent Google updates. Not the first time this has happened, and probably not the last either. I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that “change is the only constant” in web publishing.
Today, I want to share my vision for a successful website in 2024. And guess what? It doesn’t include branding!
Before I share my thoughts, a short commercial break (don’t worry, I’m the advertiser in this case!)
Final sale for the content plan spreadsheet
’tis the season of Black Friday, making it an excellent time to retire my old trusted Content Plan Spreadsheet with one final sale.
I launched the spreadsheet partly because people asked for it but also because I wanted to experiment with an info product. It was fun for a while, but I feel that info products need more TLC than I can give anything on Yeys these days. Sorry!
So, come December 1st, the Content Plan Spreadsheet will no longer be available. If you want to get it, you have a couple of weeks to do that. There’s a $100 discount coupon, too. Instead of $147, you can get the spreadsheet for only $47.
Just click here and use coupon code: FINALSALE
How I see the ideal site in 2024
The key for sites moving forward is in diversifying traffic sources. No single algorithm can be relied on.
While that has always been the case, up until 2020-2022, we had an anomaly of “easy traffic” from Google that skewed the idea of getting people to your content. For a few years, we moved from traffic generation into the “one-track mind” scenario known as SEO.
As someone who has been publishing sites long before two college kids named Sergei and Larry decided to form a company, I can tell you that there’s an internet beyond Google’s grasp and control.
A robust site should tap into multiple sources of traffic.
Here’s my “back of the envelope” plan for creating or improving a niche site in 2024.
Test at least five different channels of potential traffic. Try each one for at least three months and assess. Then, focus on the best three channels.
Establish a mailing list early on and harvest emails from visitors from any traffic source. Keep your visitors within your site’s ecosystem, offering links within your emails to content items across your channels.
So far, I’ve identified 42 potential website traffic channels and created a list here on Yeys. When you can, take a look and let me know what you think. I’d love to keep growing and refining that list based on recommendations from other publishers.
Eventually, the ideal site should have –
- At least three robust traffic sources that bring in more than 25% of the traffic each.
- An engaged mailing list (potentially serving as an additional source of traffic down the road)
Traffic diversification efforts could be costly. Trying a traffic strategy for three months would be time-consuming and resource-intensive, and there is no guarantee of success.
I believe these sites are going to be more stable. You see, it’s not just the Google algorithm that’s capricious. If you have a site that depends on Facebook, Pinterest, or any other source, you ultimately rely on someone else’s algorithm.
A mailing list provides some protection, but
a. you need to get those subscribers and,
b. that protection is limited in nature
For example, Gmail – a major email provider – could change its algorithm to filter out newsletter emails more aggressively.
The truth of the matter is there are no guarantees in business. Risks are built-in. We should do our best to mitigate those risks; diversification is a mitigation strategy.
Sites with multiple traffic sources can withstand algo hits much better because you would still have revenue coming in. If and when you take a hit, revenue from the remaining traffic sources would allow you to go out again and invest in finding additional traffic sources.
Moreover, these sites would be more attractive for buyers should you ever want to exit. I’m not an expert in site flipping, but I imagine traffic diversification will be a significant selling point, driving multiples up.
Will this work in every niche?
I believe so. I think this strategy would apply to every niche and website. It’s just a question of finding the right channels for that specific niche and site. Some niches would do best on Twitter/X, others might work on Pinterest or Instagram. There are many potential traffic sources, and each website requires a tailored solution.
But wait, isn’t that the same as creating a “brand”?
The term “brand building” seems to be everywhere these days. I’m not a huge fan of the concept. Here’s why.
“Brand” is an elusive term in marketing, and people have various definitions for what exactly makes a brand. Essentially, it’s about making the name of your site recognizable by people in the field. IMHO, it’s crucial in some areas and not so much in others. I think most niche sites fall under the “others” category.
What’s more, truly creating a brand is a massive effort. Proper branding takes a very long time or a significant investment of money. Often, it’s both.
I know because at least one of my websites is what might be considered a brand in its niche. The kind where its top search query is the site’s name. It’s been around for over 20 years and has fans, merch, and all that jazz.
And guess what? It can still get hit by Google updates.
If you want to think of branching into Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest as “brand building,” then sure, my vision of a well-rounded website may seem like branding efforts. However, I don’t see it that way.
Whereas some “branding” promoters see it as a way to win the Google game, my approach is not about SEO. My focus is 100% on the practical side of getting traffic to that site from various sources.
So, there you have it.
This is my general direction. It’s not earth-shattering or revolutionary and is pretty much a continuation of what I set out to do in 2023. It builds on those efforts and expands them into a more concrete plan for some of our sites.
As always, I welcome your feedback! I’m really bouncing ideas here, so leave a comment if you have any thoughts to share.