NSC (Niche Site Challenge) 4: My Niche Revealed

Marathon Re-cap: I finished!

Okay, I have been out of town for a few days and wanted to give an update on my latest happenings.  As I mentioned in my last post, I ran in the Top of Utah Marathon over the weekend in Logan, UT.  I won’t go into all the details, but it wasn’t easy!

I ran the first 20 miles of the marathon or so almost exactly on my goal pace.  Then I hit the infamous wall shortly after that and slowed down quite a bit.  I still ran most of the way in, just at a much slower pace.  I finished off the marathon in 3 hours and 58 minutes.

This is about 15 minutes or so slower than I was shooting for, but still under the 4 hour mark, which is a pretty big deal for a lot of people.  Since it was my first one, I’m just happy to have finished in a decent time.  I know I could do MUCH better if I did it again since I would know what to expect, but I still haven’t decided on that yet.

In fact, at about mile 23, I was cursing myself for ever signing up for the first one!  My problem is that I am way too competitive, and I am always trying to improve.  So chances are that in a few months I will forget the pain and start thinking about the next one…

My Niche Selection

I spent ALOT of time searching for a niche and the keywords I would target for this niche site challenge.   Keyword selection is in my opinion the single most important thing that you can do when building a website that you hope will attract natural search engine traffic.  So, I have spent about 2 weeks looking at and analyzing lots of different options.

In reality this is a very short period of time compared to the time I will spend building and promoting this site over the next 6 to 12 months.  And hopefully this site will produce great results for years to come even.  So, my advice is to be patient and thorough in your niche selection, because this is critical to your success.

If you take a look at my overall strategies for success post for this niche challenge, you will see the criteria that I tried to follow when choosing this niche.  I wanted to just re-iterate 3 of the criteria that I focused on when choosing a keyword.

  1. I will try and find a primary keyword that receives EXACT match searches of at least 10k per month.
  2. I will try and find a keyword that has a high CPC of at least $1 or more.  My primary method of monetization will be with Google Adsense at least in the beginning.
  3. Choose a primary keyword that I believe I can rank in the top 5 in Google.

How I Chose a Keyword

I chose my keyword by brainstorming using some of the methods I highlighted in my previous post right here.  Overall, I would type a base keyword in Market Samurai or the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and generate a list of related keywords.  I would then filter out any keywords that did not have at least a CPC of $1 or more.

At that point I would analyze the competition in Google using the Free SEO for Firefox plugin.  There is a video of how I analyze the competition in my last post as well.  Analyzing the top 10 in Google is critical!  Its essential to pick a keyword that you believe you can actually rank well for.

So, while my process may seem somewhat random, by following it, I am able to uncover lots of non-mainstream keywords that lots of internet marketers will never look at.  If you follow the advice of choosing products off of clickbank to find your keywords, you are sure to run into lots of competition (not always, but often) because this is what lots of internet marketers do.  However, there are LOTS of niches that are out there that are not on clickbank!

My Keyword and Domain Name

So, without dragging it out too much further, I got onto the auto parts niche.  This actually then led me to some oil change keywords.  Then after analyzing the competition, checking the exact match search volume, and filtering keywords for the CPC values; I made my decision to target the keyword: “oil change coupons“.  I just bought the domain name of oil change coupons (dot) com with an “e” in front (I don’t want to actually link to the site, but you get the idea).  The exact match domain was not available, but since I am going to be putting a little more effort into this site, I feel like this domain will still be great.

Here’s a screenshot from the new version of the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which shows the exact match searches and CPC for “oil change coupons”.  You will see that it has searches of 14,800/month and a CPC of $2.34.

Competition in Google for My Keyword

So, what did I see in the top 10 of Google that makes me believe I can earn a spot?  Here a real quick rundown of the weakness I saw:

#2 result has a PR of 1 and only 74 backlinks.  The site itself is lower quality and could have better content.

#3 is Mahalo.com, which is essentially an article directory.  These are very possible to beat and while this result does have 34 backlinks to the page which is higher than most article directory results, its definitely beatable.

#5 does not even have the exact keyword in the title, a sign of weakness.

#7 is a PR of 0 with only 25 total backlinks to the site.

#8 has no PR and has no backlinks to the page.

Anyway, that gives you an idea of the type of things I looked at and the weakness I saw.  I think getting to the #2 spot is realistic; who knows maybe even #1!

My Thoughts on the Niche

I almost didn’t select this niche because it seems like such a weird niche and is not “exciting” at all.  I thought, its too quirky; is this really a keyword I want to focus on?  Well, the truth is that many of my sites that are successful are focused on “quirky” or non-mainstream keywords.  So, I decided that since it met my major criteria as outlined above, that I wouldn’t allow the fact that its an odd choice deter from moving forward with it.

Overall, I know absolutely nothing about “oil change coupons” and where to find them.  That is also potentially why I can create a valuable website, because I don’t think most people know much about oil change coupons either, so I can become an authority with a little bit of effort.  If I can create a robust site that will help people actually find the coupons that they are looking for, I might have a winner on my hands.  However, it will take lots of research on my part and planning to create a real valuable service to the end user.  That’s my plan!

Anyway, what do you think?  Have I picked a winner?  Or do you think my niche selection will be a dud?  Let me know below!

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25 Responses to “NSC (Niche Site Challenge) 4: My Niche Revealed”

  1. Good morning Spencer – Looks like an excellent choice to me. While I was reading your post I kept wondering where in the world you were going to find an affiliate program that had something to do with oil change coupons. But then, you don’t really have to, do you? Since you’re monetizing with Adsense. All you have to do is set up the site and let the oil-change-coupon-advertisers find YOU. I don’t think it’s too quirky at all. Although, personally I would have chosen something a little more girly :) Have a great day!

    • Yes, Adsense opens up a huge variety of niches that you could not go into otherwise using other affiliate programs! And yes, the advertisers will be fining me and offering their coupons on the site, which in a strange way is exactly what my visitors will be looking for!

  2. That certainly sounds like an interesting niche. I’m not expert enough to try to predict whether it’s a dud or not. I’ll be watching to see everything unfold. By the way, Spencer is my maiden name…We could be related…

  3. Very interesting read, I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting your updates and watching your progress. I’ve thought about doing similar projects along the “Watch me build my business.” but I don’t have a large enough list to make it worthwhile.

    Anyway, I think your niche is great. The more off-beat, non-mainstream the better. I think on the of the challenges I have as an Internet Marketer is allowing myself to operate outside my comfort level. We live in a big world with lots of people. Lots of different kinds of people who all have different interests, likes, and dislikes. The fact that “Oil Change Coupons” doesn’t immediately interest you, doesn’t mean there aren’t tens of thousands of other people who are. I think your keyword research demonstrates that.

    If we limit ourselves to only working on niches that we’re interested in, or that we’re comfortable with, we’re doing ourselves a HUGE disservice. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of other interests, hobbies and niches that will perform great.

    One thing I like about your niche is that it’s really got a very wide appeal. I mean anyone who owns a car is going to have to get their oil changed. And they do it all the time. Every 3 months the same people are going to be looking for coupons again. I really like niches that target a “repeat offender” something that has to be done over and over again. Or a niche that targets a specific age group.. as in “This product / service is just for college freshmen.” Every year you get a shiny new set of customers fresh off the bus.

    Good luck, and congratulations on the marathon!


    • Chris:
      Excellent comments! I totally agree that the more-offbeat niches may be out of our comfort zones, but often produce the best results (often because of lower competition).

      Also, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that these same people may be looking for oil change coupons every 3 months. I may have to build an email list and just offer these customers exactly what they want…could be a great strategy…thanks for the thoughts!

  4. looks like a good one spencer . like your marathon metaphor for building quality adsense site . kudos on your run too, way to go!

  5. I can’t argue with your analysis of the niche. But the name presumes that you will be offering said coupons or at least showing where to getthem. So, how do you proceed to find said coupons? Looking forward to your next post.

    • Chuck:
      The name CERTAINLY presumes that I will have coupons to offer. Which is why it will take some real effort to become a great source for these coupons. I counting on the fact that with a little effort that not only will I be able to find these coupons, but I will be able to find a way that is convenient and easy for my customers to take advantage of them. Oh yeah, I do know for a fact that MANY oil change companies offering discounts actually create Google Ads to get the word out…hence the Adsense ads on my site will actually be exactly what the visitors are looking for; hence the monetization strategy with adsense…

  6. Pretty cool niche. I could see it turning into an authoritive directory where everyone can come to get their coupons and adsense could later be replaced by offline business you get on a monthly retainer adverts.

  7. I don’t think how quirky the site seems matters if you follow your own criteria and use your keyword as your site name. Really sounds like a do-able deal with over 14000 searches and hardly any competition. Set up your back-links and let ‘er rip.

  8. This is great stuff Spencer.

    You are laying out an exact blueprint which takes some work and a lot of thought. A great foundation.

    I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pity for those people who have been “guided” towards the heavily promoted latest autoblog software all expecting to realize their dreams of wealth by building an Adsense blog every 11 minutes, (guaranteed!).

    You are realistically showing, for anybody who carers to tune in, that there really is no magic button for Adsense or anything else.

    Cheers Spencer, I am following with great interest.


  9. Ade:
    Thanks for the kind words! Yes, too many people fall for the “autoblog” crap that is floating around. I’ve made enough mistakes and had enough success to know what works! And QUALITY works!! So, yes, its a message that I always try to get across that building successful websites take a lot of work!!

  10. Spencer, this is the greatest thing since peanut butter and jelly. I’ve been looking for an opportunity like this. I admit that i am one of those who does/did the autoblog thing. I was taught to do it by someone in person. Seemed great in theory, and look fast and fancy, but i haven’t had a lot of results from it. Mostly a learning experience to get acclimated with all the processes involved in WP world. I am truly looking forward to learning the proper way. Thanks so much in advance. Looking forward to all your posts. And oddly, feeling somewhat angry that your not posting faster. LOL.


    • Hey Allen, its disappointing that my blog is only the greatest thing since peanut butter and jelly; I will not be satisfied until its greater than sliced bread!
      Anyway, I’m glad you’re ready to create some quality sites rather than autoblogs…its the way to go for sure. Also, sorry I don’t post any faster, but at least when I post something I try to make it worthwhile…

  11. Spencer, i wish you good luck with your challenge, i am following your updates.

  12. Hi,
    Great blog. Very interesting and I’ll follow your progress.

    I noticed a lot of discussion on the accuracy of google’s keyword search results. There’s a very simple method to get very accurate data on how often a keyword is searched for:

    Set up an Adwords add for your keyword – ‘Search’ only. Make it a very boring add that nobody (or at least very few) will want to click on. The reason you don’t want anyone clicking on it is because you just want to see how many impressions the keyword gets in your Adwords data.

    After one week I check the number of impressions and times by 4 and get a very accurate measure of the kind of search numbers there are for my keyword each month.

    Hope this helps! :)

    • This MAY work, but it is certainly not 100% accurate. I have done quite a bit with Adwords, so I know that your ad does NOT show up 100% of the time. The reason is that you may have landing page quality issues or you are not bidding high enough. So, for most people, most of the time; this method will still not work all of the time, because you never know if your ad is being shown 100% of the time, or just 75%, or 50% or 25%. It is a method that can certainly help you get a good estimate though if you REALLY know what you are doing with Adwords.

  13. Spencer, I agree with Simon, I love your Niche, but there could be some data differences from Google. I did a “coupon” Adsense Trial late last year, for some unknown reason the coupon part got endless Rubbish clicks. When I “refined” it slightly with a miss spell “coupoen”, it got far fewer Clicks but made a good few bucks. When I corrected the spelling it returned to wasted clicks. It was an Xmas niche so will try again in a few weeks time and report back.

  14. Hi Spencer,

    I’ve never really taken the time to explore adsense sites, but since I’m doing a shift in the way I’m doing business, I’m reading every word that you’re writing. Especially with all the new changes that just happened with google, and what’s happened with ebay and amazon, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with it all!

    I’m definitely following along here – just wanted to say thanks!


  15. My first time on your site.

    Mahalo is annoying, but I like to see them on the first page because they are beatable (I would need a lot of link though).

    I like the coupons niche because their CTR is more than 10%.


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