Thinking about your next website project? Best make sure it’s not Dead On Arrival (DOA)! Spend some time BEFORE you dive in. Chances are, you’ll save yourself lots of time and $.
🎯 Here are 5 things I ALWAYS research before starting (or purchasing) a new website project:
How To Research Your Next Website
1. Topical Research
- Are there enough topics to write about?
- Are there enough questions to answer?
- Are there enough products?
- Are the products expensive enough?
You don’t want to be in a niche that doesn’t have enough topics. Or, even worse, a niche that doesn’t have enough products. For example, I love nature. I love to be in nature. But I personally wouldn’t start a website about wildlife.
Not enough products to make it a viable niche. At least, not enough for me. You might say “well, I’ll just make it an informational site.” And, you could. But, before you do…Keep in mind that Ad RPMs are based on what advertisers are willing to spend to get in front of your audience.
It is also based on what they can reasonably sell to your audience. And if there aren’t many products in the niche, well, it impacts on RPMs. There are some unicorn niches that are a bit exempt from this. But I haven’t seen many.
A lot of times, not making money from your site comes down to the topics not “paying well,” which originates from missing on the topical research.
2. Competitor Research
What’s the competition like?
This is two fold (and where I made a mistake my first time).
- High DR competitors: Check the SERPs. If it’s nothing but DR80+ sites with niche relevant content that matches search intent –> bad niche. High DR competitors mean that the only plausible way to win is with a big budget. Yes, if you have a $75k budget and you have a track record of successful site building, different story. But for the vast majority of people, this is not the case.
- No Competition At All: However, you WANT to see evidence that smaller sites can win in your niche. Don’t think that you’re the first person to have the idea! If you don’t see any other small sites ranking, take it as a warning sign. Some competition is a good thing.
3. Exit Research
I never used to do this, but I sure wish I did. Think about the end and work your way backwards.
Does your niche have any viable website sales in previous years
How long does it take for deals to move in your niche?
Go to Flippa and search past sales for your niche. You want to see evidence that people want to purchase brands in this space. Empire Flippers publishes a state of the industry report every year that also has some helpful content on this subject.
4. Keyword Research
Just because you’ve validated the niche doesn’t mean there are enough good keywords. In the beginning, you’ll need some nice low competition keywords. Here’s my process to find those. I recently did a Website Review for someone with a brand new website, targeting gnarly competitive finance terms. They’re never going to rank for them.
And yet, as you build out topical authority and get backlinks, you need keywords with decent search volume. Some niches just don’t have much search volume as a whole. Sure, there are some low competition keywords, but nothing big to target.
Then you’re forced to pick between branching off topic of just ditching anything new on the site. Do your keyword research BEFORE you dive into a niche. Sound annoying? Yep. But its worth it.
5. Content Plan
Many stop at the keyword research. I did on my first site, and its why my first site never took off. Don’t. Creating topical authority these days is much more complicated than just writing about related topics. They need to all work together. You can’t have gaps. You have to create relevance in Google’s eyes for all of the entities in the topic cluster.
A Content Plan is far more comprehensive than just Keyword Research. It builds out a topical map so you know the topics that need to be covered. It analyzes competitors to find the weak areas to exploit & build a list of backlinks to target. Content Plans give you a top down look and systematic approach to building your website.
We do these every week at my agency.
If you missed a few of these steps when you started, don’t worry! We all make mistakes when starting out.
Many to most of them are recoverable. Well, not #1 in some cases. But most of the other ones are!
And, we offer Website Reviews to help you get on the right track.
Comment below, and let me know if you have any questions!
P.S. – Speaking of Keyword Research, I released a new video on YouTube this week…