When it comes to picking a site to purchase, not every niche is equal. While platforms like Flippa make it easy to verify whether a seller is legitimate or not, that doesn’t necessarily mean a website is a good purchase.

It’s also true that some sites are great to own, but not necessarily great to buy. 

This could be because running them is a pain, because they are overly competitive, or because they’re in niches that don’t have much longevity. 

If you have a site making good cash, great! 

That doesn’t mean you want to buy into that niche though.

It’s important to know what kind of site is better, and what kind of niche is better. 

General Review Sites

A lot of popular sites right now are “general review sites”. These are sites that might rank for any number of random keywords, from “Best curtains” to “Best metal detector”.

These sites have become popular thanks to the success of websites like thewirecutter.com, and for a while in 2016-2018 they seemed fairly easy to rank too.

This is actually a myth. If you throw up a ton of content on different topics, chances are a few of them will catch on. We’ve seen dozens of websites recently for sale that only have 1-2 articles ranking well, especially in the sub $50,000 range. These might be fine websites to own, but I wouldn’t necessarily buy one of them.

There’s also a fairly alarming trend of eCommerce type websites, along with Amazon itself, starting to take over the SERPs for typical review keywords.

This makes it even harder for your average Amazon affiliate site to compete.

Between the Amazon commission drop in April, and the May Google update which really drove this trend forwards, we are pretty bearish on both Amazon affiliate sites, and general review sites right now.

Edit: At the time of writing, Google is rolling out another update, and it seems this trend is continuing.

In fact, we’re bearish on most affiliate sites that are designed to just rank in Google and send people to an affiliate link, without doing much more than wave the link in people’s faces.

There are SOME very good informational websites out there where high quality, informative content, monetized with affiliate links is still going to be a good acquisition, but a more ideal purchase would be something you can build an audience around, as I wrote about here.

Content Needs An Audience

We are much more interested in websites where people interact with the brand. Maybe they love the content, maybe they want to become a member of the audience, maybe they interact with a fun quiz and appreciate getting the results in their inbox.

Basically, you build a community around the business. 

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a tangible community like a Facebook group or forum; it could simply be a conceptual community where people who read the emails, articles, and comments feel connected to the brand and/or other readers.

Niches you can do this in are plentiful. The obvious ones are pet niches, hobby niches, sports, family, and things people feel passionate about. If you are creative, you can approach most niches this way. However, you need to start out with the right site. 

Can you build a community around a vacuum cleaner review site? Probably not. Can you build a community around homemakers and do some articles about vacuum cleaners? Now you’re thinking about it the right way.

For example, let’s say you see a high quality informational dog website, like Perfectdogbreeds.com. Right now, the site just covers articles about taking care of various dogs, but could you start to build an engaged audience around it? Sure. 

Even something which covers a small subset of the niche like raw dog food review site woofwhiskers.com could do it. 

How? Well, you could offer free e books, but instead of generic “Hi here’s your ebook” emails, you send fun, engaging emails that make people laugh and enjoy your content. It’s harder to get right, but the payoff is owning a real business, rather than a random affiliate site.

You could apply it to hobbies as well. For example, the craft space is huge. Digital Marketer built a massive community around sewing.com, and you could easily do something similar with a site like asubtlerevelry.com where people learn about party planning, crafting, and recipes. These are the kinds of sites where people typically find “mom bloggers” and personality driven websites, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do it well yourself. 

How? Again, you could add a fun quiz, some informational ebooks, and send engaging, funny emails instead of the typical generic things marketers do.

Instead of thinking, what’s the minimum amount of fluff I have to do before I can send an affiliate link someone’s way, you should instead think, how can I lighten my audience members day and make them look forward to my next email?

Take The Time To Do The Difficult Work

Most people avoid building sites this way, because it’s hard. This gives you some opportunity if you’re prepared to go the extra mile or two. Do you need to be an expert in your niche? No, I never believe you really do. You DO need to research your audience though, and you should probably work with writers who are experts.

This is what’s going to differentiate you from the other sites in our space, and what will make your audience become fans of your site. It’s harder, but not as hard as watching your traffic get wiped out every google update because your site is unremarkable.

The best sites don’t even have to fear a Google update. For example, at Onfolio.co, I’ve never really paid much attention to search volume or google updates for ranking. People come to read articles about website investing, they join our email lists and whenever we publish a new article, they read them.

Sure, we get people finding us in Google as well, but it’s not the main driver of our traffic, and it makes us less reliant on Google. This also shows that not every piece of content you produce should be based on what a keyword tool tells you to write.

So while you don’t need to be an expert in your niche, you should learn alternative ways of researching content. Tools like answerthepublic, general forum or facebook searches, and buzzsumo will help with this.

The key is to be able to identify both topics that your audience want that might not necessarily have a ton of search volume, and opportunities to connect with your ideal audience member in a way that will help them fall in love with your site. 

Think about what you’re doing on Flippa right now. You’re reading an article about how to buy sites that are more evergreen. If you found another site with similar content, that appeared to be constantly putting out content of a similar quality, you’d likely enter your email and pop back to that site over and over again right?

If that site instead just wrote generic “How to flip a website” type articles that skimmed over the topic and didn’t add any personality of experience to the article, such as the kind of thing you’d read at WikiHelp, you’d probably not come back often.

It’s all about making people think “I like this site, I will return”. This is tricky to master, but like with all things in business (and particularly marketing), if you put in the hard yards, the payoff is worth it.

When building a website, it’s all about making people think “I like this site, I will return”. Click To Tweet
Dom Wells

Dom Wells

Dom Wells is the founder of Onfolio.co. He's been actively building, buying, and selling websites since 2012, and has learned from many a mistake over the years. Through Onfolio, he works with other investors to find, buy, and then operate content sites, without the mistakes.