Niche Sites And Their Role in the Internet Ecosystem

That’s a very big title there, I know. But I think it’s something web publishers need to address at this point.

We should have been talking about this for quite a while now, but maybe the last Google update was the kick we needed.

In this post, I’m going to show why niche websites are an important part of the Internet, making information accessible to the masses.

That’s quite a high horse, I know. So, let me climb on top of my soapbox and explain.

What’s a Niche Site, anyway?

The Internet is a vast place with an ever-changing, diverse landscape (Yes, I wrote this sentence! Not ChatGPT!). Each domain name on the internet represents an entity, also known as a website.

Websites come in many shapes and forms. E-commerce sites, news sites, forums, and social networking platforms, to name but a few.

And then we have “niche sites.”

Simply put, a niche site is an informational content website that covers a specific topic.

The focus is not on a blogger, a brand, a store, or a community. Instead, the focus of the entire site is the topic itself.

The niche site contains multiple pages that answer various questions and queries from people who are interested in the topic. Typically, the information is organized into categories so that the visitor is offered a structured overview of the subject matter.

Niche sites are about curating and organizing online information

Niche sites vary in scope and size, depending on the choice of topic.

You could focus a niche site around a small topic such as “grooming labradors,” cast a wider net and create a site about labradors in general, or possibly publish an even larger site on dogs. If you’re very ambitious, you can take on the entire topic of pets and consider that your niche, adding thousands of articles over the years on how to care for a variety of animals.

The key is to create a well-structured site that covers various aspects of that topic.

Niche sites typically contain articles that cover specific questions as well as broader guides. For example, in a small niche site on grooming labradors, specific questions that can be covered in separate pages could include –

  1. “How to get mats out of a Labrador’s fur”
  2. “What are the best shampoos for Labrador skin allergies?”
  3. “How often should I brush my Labrador’s coat?”
  4. “Is it safe to trim a Labrador’s whiskers?”
  5. “How to manage shedding in senior Labradors”

In the niche site industry, we call these “longtail queries” because these questions are not high up there in the list of Google’s most popular searches. Fewer people look for those questions compared to a broader question such as “how to groom my dog.”

And this is the strong suit of niche sites. When done right, they can quickly provide accurate and helpful answers to very specific questions within the niche.

Why do people create niche sites?

In an ideal world, experts would be creating detailed, accurate, well-presented, and thus helpful pages that provide specific answers to each longtail answer based on their authority and experience.

In the real world, niche experts rarely have the know-how, inclination, or ability to put together a website.

After all, a lot goes into creating a website. I’ve shared here my initial 20 steps for creating a new site, but there’s so much more that goes into launching and then maintaining a website.

Not everyone can do that.

Take my Dad, for example, a photographer with more than 50 years of experience. He’s an expert who has taught photography at schools. He could answer a lot of your questions about the topic, but there’s no way in the world he could create or maintain a website.

Neither could my brother, who is much younger and quite tech-savvy. He’s an expert on vehicles, with credentials and years of experience. He often weighs in on articles on my auto site. He would never start his own site, though. It’s not just that he’s too busy managing his own business; he actually finds web publishing boring (I know, I know, hard to believe!)

Let’s face it, even with accessible free platforms, 99.9% of people will never create and maintain a proper website. And I’m probably being generous here.

So, what happens in the real world?

A handful of experts do create their own websites. They’re not always very good, mind.

Since these people lack the expertise or know-how, these sites are often poorly organized, look unappealing, and fail to share the information in a way that actually answers readers’ questions.

Not all of them, of course. There are some great expert-led sites out there, with people who have both a passion for the niche, as well as a passion for publishing sites.

But they’re rare.

Most niche sites are created by people who enjoy web publishing. I consider myself to be one, so I can describe this from my perspective.

I LOVE creating and maintaining websites. I derive pleasure from publishing content. I love planning and structuring a site, installing software, creating well-researched pages, and putting together the building blocks to cover a topic thoroughly and accurately.

But wait, that information needs to be by experts, right?

Most times it doesn’t. If done right, niche sites can help people even without having an expert at the helm.

Niche sites are information curators

Experts and people with real-world experience often share their information in many ways, such as –

  • Scientific papers
  • Points made in passing during an interview in a magazine
  • Forum posts and other user-generated content sites such as Reddit and Facebook
  • Reviews in huge collections by sites like or TripAdvisor
  • Tips and mentions in hobbyist videos shared on YouTube or social media

In short, the answers to those “long tail” specific questions are often all over the place. A disarray of bits and pieces that the average internet user would have a difficult time finding and consuming.

This is where a niche site can come into play.

When done right, a niche site publisher will –

  • Find the question that’s on people’s minds.
  • Thoroughly research online to find the raw nuggets of information.
  • If needed, reach out to experts to receive additional input.
  • Carefully weigh, assess, and organize the information
  • Present it in a way that’s easy to follow on a written online page.

As such, niche sites have a pivotal role in the Internet as curators of information.

As ethical web publishers, our job is to find those hidden informational gems, polish them up, and turn them into helpful content that’s organized in a way that provides good answers to people’s real-life questions.

People don’t want to follow threads in forums or on Reddit, they don’t want to read scientific papers, and they don’t want to spend an hour watching a YouTube video when all they need to know is how often to brush their labrador.

They want a single page that curates the information from all of these sources and provides them with a well-researched answer in a way that’s easy to follow.

Why do I create niche websites?

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes by now because my discussion so far never mentioned money.

So, let’s talk about that for a minute.

There is a lot of money to be made from niche websites. The users who visit our curated informational pages, are prime targets for advertisers, so monetizing the sites using display ads or affiliate offers can be extremely lucrative.

It’s not easy money.

Creating and maintaining decent web pages requires a significant investment. Not just of time and money but also of skill and experience. It’s also a risky business where a lot can go wrong.

Realistically speaking, based on way too many years in the industry, I suspect most niche site owners never see a profit.

Let’s not beat around the bush, though. If you’re serious about web publishing, you want to see a profit. You won’t be able to maintain the long-term investment required without generating a stream of revenue that compensates you for the investment and the risk.

In that respect, it’s not different from any other business. Just because someone makes a profit out of their dental practice or their auto shop does not mean they don’t make a valid contribution to the community.

It’s the same with niche sites. Yes, we’re in this for the money, but that does not take away from the potential benefit our business brings to the Internet.

The average internet user benefits from niche sites. They benefit from a professional web publisher taking the time to research the internet and do the legwork for them, curating the information in an easy-to-read article that answers their specific question.

And it’s perfectly legitimate to be compensated for that.

The Recent Google HCU Update

If you’ve been following my X/Twitter account, you may have noticed that Google’s John John Mueller visited one of my tweets recently.

In a way, this blog post is in response to this exchange –

John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, knows niche sites and how they work. Indeed, choosing a topic for your niche site is a “thing” in our industry.

However – and that’s the point I’ve been trying to make in this post – that does not take away from a niche site’s potential authority on the topic.

Are there bad niche sites out there?

You bet. There have always been internet spammers. While it has sometimes been slow to do so, Google was actually usually good with catching on to them.

Low-quality spammy sites are getting worse. With some publishers generating one-click AI content in huge masses, I’m personally concerned about the current state of the Internet. I’m even more worried about the future.

Not to sound overly dramatic, but human civilization is at an interesting and potentially dangerous crossroads as the Internet is quickly filling up with low-quality, single-click, unsupervised AI content.

Some publishers make a point of fact-checking, verifying, and generally editing the AI content. That’s what my company has been doing. Many do not. Google has no way of telling which content is which.

What is the answer to the current situation?

I don’t know. As I mentioned at the beginning of that Twitter thread, I feel sorry for Google. It’s a tough situation, for sure.

But the answer is not to devalue niche sites and surface the raw information out there. Featuring e-commerce websites for informational queries is also not a good idea.

Both things now happen with Google, as it struggles to figure out where the Internet’s reliable answers lie.

At this point, I believe Google should come forward and say that out loud. Instead of using arbitrary parameters in the algorithm, they should go public with the real issue at hand: The Internet is becoming dominated by AI content, and it’s not always accurate or high-quality.

Unfortunately, doing that would expose the fact that the search engine is facing a crisis. I suspect that the informational content part of the Internet is becoming too big to handle effectively.

I’m guessing – and this is pure conjecture – that Google’s engineers are smart enough to devise ways to reliably gauge the quality of content, but they may not be able to do that effectively across the sheer mass of pages being published every day using AI tools.

Admitting a problem of this scale is probably not something a large corporation wants to do. Moreover, judging by how Google is moving forward with Bard and Generative Search, it almost seems as if Google is going for the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.

And I think this should worry every person out there. Not just web publishers.

Thanks for reading this far!

I know this is not a very practical post, but I felt the need to voice this opinion in a clear way. Or as clear as I could. As always, let me know what you think. This is an important discussion that I think web publishers should be having these days.

Hopefully, Google will become part of the discussion rather than try to sweep the real problem under the rug to keep its own business agenda going.


  1. Hey Anne, this is a well written post with a balanced perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m not that surprised at John Mu and his cohorts constant negative comments on Niche sites. It’s a tactic they use to mask the real problem of Google not being able to accurately police the internet. Corporate PR tactics!.

  2. Thanks for this post Anne, and for challenging John on his assertions.

    With my niche site, I’m no engineer and I’ve never been a Formula 1 driver, but I have been a fan for over 30 years. So while I have knowledge, I wouldn’t be a ‘real authority’ in John’s eyes.

    Much like your process mentioned above, I have to trawl raw data to put together cohesive articles.

    While we haven’t been obliterated, traffic has been down the past couple of weeks, and I’m now finding some search terms where we have a perfectly crafted article are now on Page 2, while random forum threads from 2011 and Quora/Reddit threads from 10 years ago fill the top spots.

    Not sure how that would be ‘helpful content’ when compared to an article that literally answers the question the person is searching for an answer for 🤣

    • Hey Jarrod,
      Sorry to hear your site was hit. My sites were not obliterated either but I’m seeing a similar trend of our pages being outranked by UGC and commercial-intent websites that provide a poor user experience. I’m not sure John Mueller wouldn’t consider you as not having real authority, but to be fair, the algorithm doesn’t run by what Mr. Mueller says or believes…

  3. The problem is AI and it has already stolen most of the information on our website without our permission.

    The other day, I tested a few search terms on bard and chatgpt and their responses are comprehensive. These are long-tail keywords I used to rank well on Google. So the question I asked myself is what is the purpose of my website now? Why should any people come to my website?

    Is unique information important? Maybe. Think about YouTubers or Tiktok KOL. Why would anyone listen to KOL? Maybe they had consistently delivered unique points of view. Maybe they were good at marketing. Maybe they were simply at the right place at the right time. I think these are the reasons why Google places such a big emphasis on trust.

    I feel that the game is no longer about how much content you have or how much can you cover. It is about how much can people trust you. Treat your website like a brand. A real brand in the world.

    That’s all I can think of now…

    • Hey Andy, I used to think that when GPT4 came out. Personally, I hardly ever use Google anymore. I use ChatGPT with GPT4 and internet access (if I need it). It’s not perfect but it’s still better than searching. I get to hold complete dialogues, with follow up questions and an interesting back-and-forth. So, yeah, I agree that it should be people’s go-to for longtail searches.

      But it’s not. I keep asking people around me and they ALL still search Google. They don’t transition to AI even after I show them the magic. I’m still trying to figure out why. I think most people just feel awkward about having a conversation with an algorithm? Not sure, but as a publisher, I’m not complaining.

      I don’t know what the future holds. It may be that someone will be able to crack this and deliver an AI experience that the public will like enough to transition into. We’re not there yet, so at this point, there’s still a very real need for sites that will bring together AI content and people.

      Building a brand is always smart. Our main sites have multiple traffic channels, a social media presence and mailing lists.

  4. Thanks for posting this on our behalf. Google doesn’t really care about us, smaller niche site publishers.

    On one hand Google blames us for webspam and they rank parasite seo campaigns and AI generated sites.

    They stress on the importance of EEAT and suggest that may be we are not expert on the topic, yet ranks anonymous user generated content high.

    • Hi Sunny, who knows, maybe the message will get through to Google. And maybe publishers should get together and advocate for our industry, as well as for Internet users. It’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a while now.

  5. Great post Anne! As a former nonprofit director and now niche blogger trying to support myself in retirement, I loved your response to John Mueller! I am one of those passionate bloggers who started to write cute stories about my rescue dogs, but then took courses to turn it into a serious website about adopting, raising, and advocating for rescue/shelter dogs. It was doing great until Sept 17th!! Now I am working through Tony Hill’s course and see if I can get through the storm as I improve my older posts and develop more of a brand. Anyway, glad I discovered your website. Great posts!
    Best, Deanna

    • Hello Deanna, I read your comment with a great interest. I was also looking at the course you mentioned. But I did noticed that Tony has been very quiet on how his website survived the HCU. Which I find strange considering that he positioned himself as having all the answers. We need more transparency from people who sell their courses.

      • Hey James, I’m not Tony but I know Tony well and he’s a pretty awesome guy. I don’t think he ever positioned himself as having all the answers. He shared his own success with bringing a large site back from a major hit in a Google algorithm update. The course was born out of that and I for one, think it’s a good course. Are the strategies in the course going to work for everyone? Nope. Are they going to work forever? Some of them I think will provide value for years to come, but in terms of SEO, who knows. As for transparency, as I recall, Tony actually shared what happened with his site in the Fat Stacks forum. People who bought his course have access to that. IMO, that’s fair and I don’t think he is under any obligation to share that information anywhere else (or at all, for that matter). Just my two cents – not here to represent Tony 🙂

      • Hey James, popping in here. Great and fair point! I’ve lost some rankings and traffic from the HCU. I’m happy to share more about that on X and in my newsletter. I’m not too concerned by it, for many reasons I’ll share later.

  6. Hi Anne,

    I would like to take the side to say that the content served to the Google audience has never been better coming a long way from how they rank site since 2000.

    As an optimist, I think they would continue to discover better ways to rank better content.

    But with each update, intending to be better at serving good content via their SERP, someone on the other end suffers – be it small sites or large companies.

    So to them, it’s really who should we rank so that it’s better than before and if it doesn’t work, let’s revert. Key might be a faster iteration cycle.

    As site owners, I think change is constant and the only way to stay ahead is to iterate as fast as they could.

    Not easy and getting harder by the day but hey, at least there are still opportunities out there that we could get

    • Thanks for sharing your opinion, Dominic. I can’t say I feel that the search results have improved, but to be fair, I hardly use Google for search, personally. I prefer the customized chatbot experience of Bing with GPT4, or even chatGPT with Bing.

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