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In October 2020, a friend of mine finally convinced me that starting my own niche website was a smart idea.
Invest your time and expertise now into something that can pay off with recurring revenue for as long as you keep it.
Sounds like a great idea.
“Investing” my money, time and energy is something I try to do more of each month that goes by, as I try to move time and money further away from each other.
Doing activities that can generate money on their own when you want to take a break – that’s the ideal.
Keep reading to see exactly what happened in the first 6 months of my first ever niche site.
2 months in: Break 1K Google Search Impressions
In the first couple of months, I am still very much toying with this new idea.
Improving my experience with analyzing search to find keywords to focus on for my niche site.
On 31st December 2020, I checked my stats and saw some noticeable results for the first time.
So with just a handful of articles, I was able to generate 1K+ impressions in search just by writing stuff people are searching for.
Not many clicks, but things soon improve.
3 months in: I take things more seriously and reach 6K impressions
Just a week into the third month of my niche site, both my overall clicks and impressions from search almost double and I hit 6K impressions.
Quite swiftly, I start to see how every single week that goes by I get greater results. With more time, Google gives me more trust and authority.
People are seeing my content and they are clicking on it: because it’s relevant to their search.
At this point, I have 11 articles on the site. Still just a handful.
4 days later…
I see my first sign of this “hockey stick growth” people talk about. Of course, it’s a small one.
But to me, it’s a great sign.
The majority of my growth is arriving in the last month at this time.
This starts becoming a regular theme whereby my most recent month shows 70-90% of my entire traffic.
I’m enjoying seeing my average position get lower (higher on Google SERPs). Graph lines going up.
And now for something completely different
In some of my research, I found a term that had low competition and was pretty much an easy win.
I just had to write an article based on easily researchable information and create a post of indexable information.
What was unique about it was that I just did a little bit of easy social posting in the right places to get immediate eyes on the content.
If you’re already aware of the communities that could be relevant, then sharing the content in the right way with those communities can be an easy win.
So from this, I get my highest day for users breaking 200 in a single day. It’s a cool thing, but it’s not organic search traffic.
What we’re really after is traffic that works over the long term and requires little social engineering.
But even so, it’s a great boost to see your content get eyes quickly.
After just a few days though I do also see a spike in Search Console. Alongside it, the average position goes lower.
As I understand it at this point, the position gets worse because I’ve introduced new search terms to rank for so my average can change.
But from the clicks and impressions, it’s just going up.
I’ve heard that traffic coming to your site of any kind and with referring links (backlinks, even if just social) sends positive signs to Google that your page and site have some authority.
The authority adds to Google’s trust and up you go.
The average position continues to tank, but the click-through rate improves steadily.
Simply more potential appearances in search mean more impressions and clicks.
A hop, skip and a jump in search
As we get to the end of the third month, I see a nice new spike of Search Console that makes everything before it looks like chump-change!
Now all I care about is taking action to make the next growth spurt.
I end the month hitting 200 clicks and 6K impressions, ending on a high with another spike of search clicks.
Now I’m thinking about how I can double-down on content creation with my own limited time and a couple of full-time jobs to balance!
4 months in: Let’s ride this rocket ship
At the start of the fourth month, I have around 13 articles on the site. As client work takes up a lot of my time, I don’t have much free time and lacking inspiration for new content.
This becomes a constant theme for me as writing consistently doesn’t come so easily for me.
But things are about to change, as I start trying out my first ever paid writer.
I have ideas about the content I need to create: I’ve done the keyword research and found some lower competition keywords to go for.
In these early days, it’s still all about the low-competition but low-traffic keywords. I’ll snap those up as much as I can right now.
But just before I get my first paid-for article onto my site, I assess how my site is growing naturally with what I’ve already created.
My “last 28 day” Search Console report constantly looks more healthy week by week. I break 10K impressions and my clicks improve over double, with the click-through rate growing.
Over on Google Analytics, I’m now seeing significant numbers as I break the 2K visitors within a 30 day period mark.
This was largely helped by a couple of big spikes in traffic. The first came from a bit of minimal effort of social sharing. The second seemed to be a combination of natural sharing and Google giving me a boost in search due to more trust and authority.
Social signals work, at least some for a new site like mine.
Throw me a hockey stick, Google
Looking at how the site has developed in the last 3 months, I see a hockey stick of growth considering I started from nothing.
20K impressions and 1K clicks. CTR rising, average search position slowly getting better.
At this point, I’ve just dropped two more articles into the site, both from my paid writer.
Those articles didn’t seem to cause any significance in the new incoming search, but they did add a few more queries.
It just feels like Google is trusting me more and bumping or “testing” me in higher positions inside search results.
Whatever is happening, I’m doing the right things. Creating content that people are searching for, it’s as simple as that.
If I compare the above last 3-month chart against what’s happening in the last 28 days, anywhere between 70-90% of the impressions and clicks are from the last 28 days alone. The average position is much better.
As time goes on, Google’s trust in me just goes up.
What I learned in the first 6 months of starting my niche site
So let’s get to the key lessons from building this niche site.
The world of SEO and building content sites for it is a constant learning process. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and waste time on things that simply don’t matter as much as people think.
SEO has become a gold mine for marketers. The best names in the business have been able to carve out their space and promote their own products and services that promise a lot.
But my major lesson has been that the two most important things are content and authority.
Write content that people search for
In starting a niche site, especially if you’re new to it and don’t have a budget or plan to spend much, the focus should be on finding what people are searching for: low competition.
How do you do that? It’s actually incredibly simple in theory:
- Start searching in Google with your niche keyword and look at what Google auto suggests for your search
- Look out for and think about questions you can ask in Google
- Also look at “People also ask” and related search terms (they appear at the bottom of the search results page)
- If you see search results that show forums or discussion boards like Reddit, Quora, or niche forums on the first page of Google, then you’ve found a low competition keyword
By focusing on low competition search terms then you’ve found free traffic that you don’t have to do much to compete for other than create relevant content to answer the query.
This likely won’t generate a huge amount of traffic by any means, but it will bring traffic.
You need to start somewhere, right?
So writing short articles between 500-1000 words that answer these low competition search terms will bring you very immediate results and allow you to hone your craft in writing.
Social signals can give you a boost
I don’t want to focus on it too much because the overall aim of a niche site should be to get Google search traffic.
But if you’re able to find some easy traffic by sharing your content in social communities, then you can get a boost in traffic which sends some positive signals to Google to trust your site even more.
The more that Google trusts your site, the more authority they are likely to give you and show you higher in search.
What’s more is that if the place you can successfully share a link to your content is public (like an open Reddit community, as an example) then you’ve grabbed an easy backlink.
The more public places where links are pointing to your own site, the potential more authority you’re getting with Google.
It gets even better if users are actually clicking through that link to your site. A link to your site isn’t as powerful as one which people actually click.
But I’ll say it again: don’t focus too heavily on social. Focus on writing content for search first. It’s the priority.
The next steps should be thinking about backlinks and some of the easy backlinks are by using public social mediums like Reddit, Quora, and public forums that are highly relevant to your community.
Backlinks will help in the long run. But you need useful content first.
So that’s what I’ve learned in the first few months of my niche site. It’s a constantly interesting and enjoyable process for me.
The more work I’m able to put in now, the more I know it will pay off in the future. It’s a slow-building effort, but it compounds over time.
And making investments of my time is what I, and this blog, is all about.