the number eight

8 Steps Formula : Build Niche Sites That Rank

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If you look around and focus on successful marketers, they always seem to know what they are doing. Not only that, they also seem to know how to articulate well about what they are doing.

It’s not a surprise to find out that many of them follow their own tested and proven “system” or “formula” to get to where they are today.

Sometimes we get the idea that these systems and formulas were created to market their educational products, but I bet these successful marketers actually needed it for themselves to remind them the workflow and to communicate with their team members about what they were doing.

The reason for me to come up with this 8 steps system was exactly that. I needed a way to remind myself the workflow and I needed an easy way to explain what’s in my mind with my team members.

So what is the 8 steps formula to build niche sites that rank?

To be honest, this could have been 6 or 10 or 20 steps. There are so many things need to be done in order to build a website that makes money. I consolidated them into 8 steps so that the list is short enough to remember yet long enough to categorise everything that we do in a meaningful way.

Step 1) Niche Market Discovery

Niche Market - Bow and Arrow Aimed at Bulls Eye

The first step of course is to find a niche market to target. There are many good blog posts out there that explain how to do this. Some people do top down market analysis. Some based on their everyday life experience. Some are just purely data driven. Our approach is a mixture of everything.

We want to make sure our target is a well defined niche market. This will help us focus on promoting only a specific range of products and narrow down the target demographics.

Like any other businesses, we only have a limited resource so we need to focus on just one thing at a time.

We also want to increase the likelihood of success so doing competitive analysis on the chosen market is also important before settling to one.

Step 2) Persona Development

persona iconAfter identifying a niche market, we need to create buyer personas. This exercise helps us to know who we are talking (writing) to, what needs they have, what they are thinking, what their lifestyle is like and so on.

Creating these personas can also help writers significantly. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say we want to create content around “best Christmas present”. There are so many things a writer can write about it. Is the present for a kid or an adult? Is it he or she? Where do they live (it’s summer in Australia for Christmas).

These are the kind of questions almost every writer I have worked with would asked back. (NOTE: some didn’t bother asking these questions and that was just a good indication that they didn’t care. Avoid those kind of writers!)

Now imagine if the writer already knows she needs to write an article appealing to

  • 18 years old male
  • He lives in Chicago, USA
  • He just got his driver’s license
  • He just got accepted into NYU so he just moved to New York City
  • His parents are very excited and happy for him

What do you think the writer’s thinking process would be? Probably something like: “What he should get? Maybe a car? NO! He just moved to New York City and a car is useless. Maybe a membership to a car sharing program? Wait! we are an affiliate for a car sharing program!”

Hope you get the picture how useful creating buyer personas is.

Step 3) Keyword Research / Content Idea Generation

It is common sense that finding low competition keywords is crucial but not all low competition keywords are equally valuable. This is why we need to understand purchase funnel and apply that to keyword research.

purchase funnel

People who are at the top of the funnel are still formulating an opinion, so they use a different set of keywords compare to people who are at the bottom of the funnel where they are ready to buy. By carrying out product centric keyword research, we can focus on money making keywords and not wasting resource on keywords that will just bring in traffic with low conversion rate.

Having said that. this doesn’t mean we will completely ignore keywords at the other steps of the funnel because we don’t want the site to be just saying “here is a product BUY it”. So what we need to do is strategically selecting keywords from the other funnel steps.

Once we have these keywords, we can start coming up with a theme to tight all these together. This page grouping concept will help us create more coherent site content and structure internal links.

Step 4) Content Creation


When writing an article, keywords should be sprinkled within the article strategically for ranking and internal linking.

A lot of people worry about keyword density but that is irrelevant in today’s SEO environment. This might sound contradictory to “sprinkle keywords strategically” so let me explain.

Google now looks at relevancy rather than number of times a specific keyword appears in an article. So we are not sprinkling the same keyword again and again but rather, we sprinkle LSI keywords to improve the relevancy of the article. In other words, we don’t want to repeat our target keyword again and again in the article, but rather we want to sprinkle keywords that are related /relevant to our target keyword.

If you are outsourcing this to a writer, make sure the writer understands why we are doing this. It is always ideal to document the process as a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP).

Step 5) Content Upload

on page seoThis is where onpage SEO takes place. Optimizing title, meta tags, H1, H2 etc… All the good stuff.

The target keyword should appear in all the major SEO elements.


Step 6) SEO / Troubleshooting

seo zoom inThis step might sound repetitive but it is not. After the content is up, no matter how careful you or your team members are, there will always be mistakes. This is why we need to have a standardized method to periodically check the entire site to ensure everything is optimized.

We also need to set up monitoring systems such as Key Performance Indicator to keep the site performance in check.


Step 7) Backlink Building

Link_BuildingYou might have seen some posts on this site that talk about how it is possible to rank without any backlink building. Well, IT IS possible with a good keyword research to find low competition keywords (by using use our keyword difficulty checker :-)) but it takes longer to rank when compared to a site with some backlinks.

The kind of backlink building we do is primarily for traffic and not ranking. The primary purpose is to raise awareness of the site and not to manipulate Google.

Step 8) Social Media Marketing / Other Marketing Activities

social media

This is inline with the backlink building we do. We want to use these channels to drive traffic to the site. It is important to note traffic from these channels probably won’t ended up purchasing at Amazon but having presence on these channels could lead to additional backlinks and sending social signals to Google.

We also need to collect emails from users so we have an email list to market other potential services down the road.


What do you think?

Do you think my formula makes sense? How would you improve or change if you were me? Let me know in the comment section. Would love to hear what you think.

I know everyone has their own success formula so don’t be shy and share it with us in the comment section.

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