Are Niche Adsense Websites Dead?

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about the recent major changes to the Google Algorithm changes that have affected 11.8% of all searches.  I know I’m not breaking any news here.  I don’t plan on providing too many details on what happened or who was affected.  But I do want to focus on what this means for Niche Websites, and whether or not they still provide a viable business model.

To read up on the recent Google changes I recommend reading a few sources.  First, check out the Google blog to see what they say about and the official announcement: Finding more High-Quality Sites in Search.  Also interesting is to read some early analysis on what types of sites were hit (lost rankings) by these changes.  You can read a couple of great articles over at Aaron Wall’s SEO Book: Google Kills eHow Competitors and Sistrix.com: Google Farmer Update: Quest for Quality.

What Sites Got Hit?

These articles give you a good idea of the type of sites that got hit, and to me it makes PERFECT sense.  The type of sites that lost rankings are huge article and answer directories that have very little in-depth content and no core focus.  According to the sources mentioned, here is just a taste of the sites that got hit:

  • Ezinearticles.com
  • Wisegeek.com
  • Suite101.com
  • Hubpages.com
  • Buzzle.com
  • Associatedcontent.com
  • Articlebase.com
  • Mahalo.com
  • Answerbag.com
  • And MANY others

You get the picture though.  Large article directories with a lot of low quality user submitted articles took the bulk of the hit.  I actually applaud this update, because these articles never had any business ranking as well as they did.

In fact, one of the ways I knew to find low competition keywords was to find keywords that the above sites were ranking well for and then I could feel confident that I could outrank them.  These sites tended to rank well with 1 short article on the subject and usually no backlinks to those articles…it was ridiculous!

My Niche Sites Traffic and Earnings

So, what does this change mean for Niche Adsense Websites?  Are they dead?  Well, I can only speak for my own websites.  At this point, I have seen only positive changes in traffic and earnings since the Feb. 24th change to Google.  I haven’t seen a major jump in traffic anywhere, but overall my sites are doing very well since the change – no decrease in rankings.

In order to show the type of earnings that my sites have been making both before and after the Google changes, I thought it might be interesting to see a daily snapshot for the month of February.  So here is a simple PDF showing the earnings for my Niche Websites for the month of February, and remember this is ONLY earnings from Google Adsense.

Click here to see my Feb. Daily Earnings.

In fact, February has turned out to be my best month ever with Adsense!  So, what has the Google Algorithm changes done to my Niche Websites?  Well, nothing negative that’s for sure!  I think this is also a testament to the business decision I made to switch from making 1 or 2 page sites to larger more quality websites (even though they still usually only start with 5 to 10 pages).  Read my article here where I discuss focusing on quality – wrote this post 9 months ago!

What to Focus On – Quality

Overall, I see no indication that Niche Websites are dead (mine are stronger than ever!) as long as you are focusing on quality content.  The fact that you can build a site on a tightly themed subject provides tremendous value to readers and gives you a huge advantage over article directories and other thin content pages.

So, even if your site only has 5 or 10 pages of content surrounding a subject, as long as that content is quality, then you provide the user significant value over a simple 400 word article submitted by someone to EzineArticles.com.  From what I can see, Google agrees with that previous statement.  Of course, you should grow your 5 to 10 page website with more content as you see traffic and success to provide even greater value.

So, niche websites are NOT dead and never will be if you are providing true value and quality to your niche readers.  Things will always be changing with Google and certainly there will be minor tweaks here and there that each of us will have to make with our business model, but overall niche websites are alive and well.

So, that’s my thoughts on the subject in case anyone was wondering.  Do you have a comment to add to the discussion?  Do you think niche websites are dead?

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31 Responses to “Are Niche Adsense Websites Dead?”

  1. Some more great information here Spencer! I personally have also seen a bit of improvement with the new algorithm changes in some of my niche sites.

    Your daily earnings are looking amazing, great work there for sure! If you don’t mind me asking, what type of backlinks are you getting the most success from in terms of ranking your niche blogs?

    My concern has been that with the new google changes, specifically with article directories, that the links from those directories may also have been “devalued” to an extent, what are your thoughts on this?

    I did purchase the long tail handbook a while back, just to get a better picture of what you were doing, and it sounded as though you use article marketing as the better part of your link building strategies, is this still the case? Do you use any particular software such as social bookmarking or AMR for submissions, or do you prefer to do everything manually?

    Thanks for the updates.

    Patric

    • Patric – Excellent question! Yes, I have used a lot of article marketing for link building in the past – and its hard to say what impact this might have. Recently, I have been moving away from building links with articles (I still do some). Mostly I have been hiring link packages off the warrior forum or other places. These might include private link networks (I see some good success here), social links, profile, .edu links, etc. I am not using any software as I hire out all my linkbuilding now. However, I would think that perhaps blog networks (AMA, SEOlinkvine) might provide some good links outside of article directories.

      • Thanks for the response Spencer. I slowed down on the article marketing as well, for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it is so time consuming.

        I have looked into, and purchased, a few packages from forums such as WF, some are good and others aren’t. Just to point out quickly to other readers that maybe aren’t too familiar with seo, buying these link packages does work, but you really have to have a pretty firm understanding of what types of links are going to get you the most bang for your buck.

        Its pretty easy to start dropping money on backlink packages, only to find out that the person doing the link building has no idea of what they are doing. Anyways, just a little public service announcement, lol.

        In terms of competition, traffic, etc., would you mind saying what you kind of have found to be the “sweet spot” with your websites? If you were to look at your biggest earners, are they earning the most because they have more content, thus more reach, or because they have higher cpc’s or simply because the search terms they target have more traffic? I know a lot of tough questions!

        How are you currently judging your competition, I am usually a gut instinct type of person, but my primary method for judging comp. is to analyze the top 10 looking at things like pr, page links etc., I very rarely ever look at the number of results etc.

        • Patric – Thanks for the public announcement, I agree 100%. I have found a couple of link builders that are REALLY good (and know what they are doing) and so I stick with them primarily.

          My top earners are not necessarily earning more because they have more content. They just rank well for their primary keywords and have a high CPC (usually). My sweet spot is probably search terms that receive between 3k to 5k exact match searches. Although many of these keywords also receives lots of hits from broad variations of these keywords.

          Here’s a couple of my past posts on how I look for low competition keywords – I look at the top 10.
          http://www.nicheadsensechallenge.com/how-i-will-choose-my-niche-keywords-to-target/

          http://www.nicheadsensechallenge.com/niche-site-challenge-2-how-to-find-a-niche/

          Hope that helps!

          • No problem, people often think that outsourcing is a magic bullet, and it can be if used correctly, but a lot of times there is a communication between the service provider and the person ordering. Been there, done that! lol

            Hey, I am always looking for good service providers through WF and a variety of other places, any chance you could email me with a couple of the services/service providers that you have found worthwhile in getting these rankings up there?

            Patric

    • Spencer, what an exciting post! We’re so glad to see your inspiring success, especially when it comes wrapped in honest reporting.

      Cheers,
      Mary

  2. Hey Spencer – congrats on a great february. Your post echo’s exactly what I have heard from everyone else. Unfortunately, I actually run a number of article directories myself and they were literally wiped out. I was hurt, but learned a very good lesson.

    • I’m really sorry to hear that. This would have been hard to predict as Google has usually ranked large sites well (i.e. article directories).

  3. Spencer, great work on your Adsense earnings. To see them in print like that is very encouraging. Also, I think you are right on with niche sites. Quality content and multiple pages of content in a low competition niche is a recipe for success. It’s amazing how fast you were able to build out your niche sites initially. You must have quite the system!

    Kevin

    • Kevin – Yes, it is fun to see the earnings in print! I tend to look at it too often during the day…still can’t believe how much it is sometimes. Yes, I did build a lot of sites very quickly initially – but it was pretty much all outsourced, I really just picked the keywords. I build sites much slower now, in fact I have only build about 10 sites total in the past 4 months.

      • Are you finding that the sites that show promise you’re adding more quality posts to the site and tweaking it a bit?

        • Kevin – Yes, when I see good traffic or earnings on a site I will add more content and do more link building. Even when sites reach the #1 spot I try to find ways to improve the site. For example one site is doing really well, and I just had an ebook written that I will start selling on that site soon. You should always be improving your winning sites. The losers I let die.

  4. My 2 cents – definitely there will be no changes that will kill all the currently ranked sites. I think the worst situation might be in case google start to penalise sites that for using some backlinking patterns, like forum profiles, of blog commenting or etc… These are spammy types of links that are widely popular and used to manipulate SERPs, so google might not like it anymore and finally hit these patterns hard.

    As for “content farms” – quality content will always work, however I can say from my own experience that even if your site has 1000% unique well researched and quality content, that is not a quarantee of high rankings… I’ve seen my site banned completely and I never managed to hear why google did this.

    Every site should be trated like a business investment – quality content, thoughtful backlinking strategy, etc.. In this case we have a chance to live and earn long.

    • Anton, great input here. I agree that there will be continued updates to Google that will target low quality/spammy sites. This probably will include link quality as you mentioned. I also agree that sometimes great quality content sites can still get hit – that’s why a wide portfolio of sites can be important. Excellent insights here…thanks!

  5. Wow, Spencer…that sure is an awesome earnings report for Adsense! I have about 15 niche sites running and about half of them have continued to stay on page 1 on Google for various keywords. I have a few questions about your Adsense usage since your earnings are so high…what plug-in(s) are you using for Adsense and how many ads do you have displaying on the pages and where are you putting them to be raking in such high numbers! Lol!

    Keep up the great work!
    Stacy

    • Stacy, thanks for dropping by! Sounds like you are doing well with your niche sites if half of them are on page 1 for your chosen keywords. I use the “whydowork adsense” plugin for most of my ad units. I usually have 2 to 3 per page. The best performing units are above the fold and within the content of the article (typically). So, usually just under the title I will have a medium or large ad unit right justified (with the text wrapping). Then perhaps a unit in the sidebar, and then one at the end of the content. I think the numbers also reflect that I have a large number of sites.

  6. Wow so impressive.
    I made 56 cents yesterday and 1 dollar today. And the month of February I made a whooping 26 dollars from over twenty sites. This is a case of a gnat and an elephant.
    I make money other ways but I dream of the day I can wake up and see an adsense value of over one hundred in one day….
    All the best and may you earn more and more.
    Grace

    • Grace, you have to start somewhere. I was literally making about what you were 2 years ago from adsense. I just finally found a formula that worked for me. Low competition keywords and highly targeted niche websites. Even then its still alot of trial and error. I’ve had way more failures than successes to be honest, but because I keep trying, I have eventually found some things that work. Best of luck.

  7. How much longer will you keep this blog up? In one of your last posts you mentioned you will be closing this blog to then open another. Having not found nicheadsensechallenge until this week, I’m trying to rapidly consume all that you share here. What a wealth of information! Thank you for sharing so much.

    • Jayson:
      I am going to keep the blog up, but I won’t be adding content to it. So you will always be able to view previous posts, etc. Best of luck building niche websites!

  8. Hi,

    I followed you a while until google banned my adsense account five months ago. How do I start again I need motivation and advice as I don’t know why my account was banned please help me
    congrats though

    Allen

    • The only “legitimate” way to get another adsense account is to get a business license and setup another account under the business name. I am pretty sure google allows a personal and business account.

      In regards to why your account was banned in the first place, from glancing at your blog I would say it was due to buying traffic, which is against adsense tos and not an overall good strategy.

      If you do manage to get a new account, I would highly recommend keeping everything clean, building traffic to the site organically and keep on keepin’ on.

      Good luck!

    • Allen:
      I’m not sure why your adsense account would have been banned. I have never had any problems in that department. Make sure you are following all of Google Adsense Terms of Service.

  9. Various commentators have also proclaimed the “death of autoblogging” as a result of the Google changes.

    I run a number of sites containing a mix of unique and automated content. Like you Spencer, I have not noticed any negative effects from Google’s latest updates.

    My automated content DOESN’T come article directories, so maybe that helped.

    In fact just last week Google emailed me about a couple of my sites and told me I was leaving money on the table by not opting in to Image/Rich Media ads (i have been running exclusively text ads).

    A couple of questions about your sites:

    1. Do you run Image/Rich Media ads as well as text only Adsense ads?

    2. Averaging $270 per day is pretty impressive – how many total sites have you got running Adsense to get those earnings?

    • I’m glad to hear your autoblogging sites have been unaffected. However, just so people understand, I don’t advise doing autoblogging (copied content). All of my content is original and unique. Now for your questions:
      1. Yes, I run image/rich media ads as well as text ads.
      2. I have over 200 sites right now; however, a huge portion of these that were deindexed (as I have talked about many times on this blog) are expiring in the next month and I will let them die.

  10. “Are crappy niche adsense sites dead?”
    Yes. Or at least beat within a few inches of their life (ehow.com — you’re next!)

    “Are good niche sites that happen to monetize with adsense dead?”

    No. They are gaining traffic. I had my best two weeks since Farmer Google came to town.

    • Jeremy – I agree 100%. Crappy sites are dead, good niche sites are alive. I have also had my best 2 weeks since the “farmer update”.

  11. Spencer, first off, congrats on this blog, I only just came across it. Some good information for free, unlike many other blogs.

    My only concern with your business model is that G might classify 3 ad blocks, one article sites (even @ 400+ words) with only about, contact & privacy pages as MFA?

    Would it not be better to to build out your sites to avoid any chance of G nuking them? Or worse, nuking your account.

    • Thanks Steve, glad you found my blog! Also, I don’t build one page sites as you mentioned. Once upon a time I did. However, I have fully documented on this blog how my strategy has changed to creating more content as you mentioned. I now start a site with at least 5 to 10 articles and then add more articles as I see success with those sites. I have sites with over 100 articles on them, so I definitely do NOT recommend 1 page websites anymore.

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