The way I see it there isn’t one single approach to a niche site.
Remember the goal of a niche site is to build a site around a particular topic, usually a sub-sub-category, with the goal in mind of quickly becoming an “authority” site in that niche, rank amongst the firsts on Google for a certain keyword or group of keywords and gain traffic that can then be monetized in some way. If you want to read more about what a niche site is you can do so here.
The “standard” niche site looks very much like a blog. In these standard niche sites you will find a collection of articles all talking about the main topic of the site. Each article will try to rank for a different keyword inside that topic and most articles if not all of them will review, recommend or talk about a certain product that the reader has the option to purchase if they are convinced by the information they find on the site.
Now if the goal of a niche site is to sell stuff, why not create a “niche store” form the start?
When I say niche store I’m referring to an ecommerce site that offers a large catalog of products that belong to the site’s category. For instance a chopsticks niche store will have a catalog of all possible chopsticks you can think of, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, high end, low end… (ok I confess, I’ve actually built a chopsticks store).
If someone is looking to purchase chopsticks it’s fair to say a chopsticks niche store will be a great place for them to go find them, right? Plus if they are looking for a chopsticks store and get to my site the chances of conversion are high, they are already in the buying mindset, there is not much convincing to be done.
The thing is Google relies on content in order to analyze, categorize and rank sites, and a niche store does not have as much content by far as a regular niche site with articles does, therefore it might be tougher to get it to rank high enough to attract traffic.
At this time I am not sure which way is the best way to go. I find pros and cons for both options and I guess I’ll just have to try them both to be able to tell what works best. So far this is where I stand.
Pros and cons of a content based niche site
- This is what most people say they do and many success cases have been widely documented.
- You build a tighter relationship with the reader. You give them useful information instead of just trying to sell them something which might scare them away.
- A content heavy site might get more love from Google and other search engines.
- Writing a decent amount of content (too Googles eyes) can take months.
- Writing quality content takes many hours of research and writing if you do it yourself or will have cost if you outsource it.
- There are only so many products you can honestly recommend. So if the potential buyer does not like what you recommend you have nothing to offer him/her.
Pros and cons of a niche site
- You can build a large catalog relatively quickly.
- People who browse through an ecommerce site are already in the buying mindset. The conversion rate can be expected to be relatively high.
- Since you are not giving an opinion you can offer choices for all tastes.
- The low quantity of content might make it hard to rank well on search engines.
- If the potential buyer does not know what he/she wants when they get to the site the might leave without purchasing as they are getting very little value out of the site in terms of information.
- An ecommerce store need to be seen as reliable and trustworthy as people expect to complete a payment (most likely with their credit card information) on it. Even if we know the purchase will be completed elsewhere, they don’t. Design and branding need to be taken more seriously than on a site which only seems to be offering an opinion.
Like I said before, I’m not really sure which is the best way to go right now. Niche stores seem to me like less work and if they work that’s great because it means more of them can be launched in a given period of time. On the other hand we all know it’s better to have 2 good ones than 10 bad ones…