The Power of Micro Niche Sites with Exact Match Domain Names
This is a topic that I’m actually planning on exploring in some case studies very very soon, but there was a post on Hacker News a few days ago that served as a great example of this topic so I figured why the hell not, let’s start there.
What I’m going to go over here is how truly effective an exact match keyword domain name can be when used on simple micro niche sites. I guess I’ll first go into what both of those concepts mean, then I’ll jump into the subject of this analysis.
What is an Exact Match Domain Name?
This is simply a domain name that has the EXACT keyword that you want to target in it. That’s it. No extras “the” or “at” or extra words at the beginning or end of it. Simply the exact keyword someone would type in at Google to come to your site, without the spaces. Technically, hyphens don’t count either, but sometimes domains with them can work out well.
So if you wanted to rank for “sunflower seeds”, having the domain www.sunflowerseeds.com, .org, or .net would be the exact match domain name. Something like www.sunflowerseedsstore.com wouldn’t cut it.
You might have seen people talk about the advantages of an exact match domain name around different forums and blog posts before, so this might not come as a surprise, but having your exact keywords in your domain name can give you a HUGE boost in the SERPS. Google eats up sites like this, and in low to moderate competition niches, you can pretty easily rank on the front page with minimal backlinking. Additionally, if you see an exact match domain name in the top ten, you better be prepared to really beat them in terms of linkbuilding and on page SEO, because they will have an inherent advantage over you because of the keywords in their domain.
What is a Micro Niche Site?
The best way to describe a micro niche site is that it is a site that is targeting a market with moderate monthly searches, super low allintitle competition,low to medium front page competition, and generally long tail keywords. These sites will often be very small, sometimes just 1-4 pages, and are usually about just a single product/list/offer.
You generally don’t need an active blog or a bunch of content on these kinds of sites, as the competition is so low that it doesn’t take much to rank for the keywords. The real trick to these types of sites is that they are somewhat hard to find. Often times, long tail keywords won’t have enough monthly searches to really be worth pursuing with a site. So you really have to dig in there and find a few keywords that have low enough competition coupled with enough monthly searches to convert to a point that’s worth your time.
Here are some rough numbers I look for when I research micro niches:
- allintitle competition of less than 10-30,000
- Front Page Competition with average PR of 3 or less
- Low backlinks (<3-500 max) for each front page site
- At least 5000 searches a month
- Exact match domain name available for .com, .org. or .net
Now, techie readers will realise that that all of those things can be found out basically automatically with the right keyword lists and some know how. But that will be something I probably won’t go into too much here at least
Analysis of Micro Niche Site
So recently, this interview was posted to Hacker News. In the interview, Patrick McKenzie, the creator of Bingo Card Creator, goes into some pretty great details about what I consider “active white hat SEO”. He’s not doing anything shady, or actively building any links for that matter, but he is paying attention to his SEO and encouraging others to build links to his sites. Additionally, he’s utilising micro niche sites with exact match domains to promote his seasonal bingo cards, with a bit of success it seems. He says in the interview:
I don’t want to say that microsites are the right solution for everyone. The problem with microsites is that they cause you to split your domain equity and link equity. The basic idea behind PageRank (the core of Google’s original search ranking algorithm) is that any link to a page is a vote that that page and site is trusted and should appear higher in the search engine rankings. Separate from PageRank is what is called the exact match domain bonus — if your domain (.net, .com, .org, or country-level TLD like .co.uk if the searcher is in the UK) exactly matches — and I mean character-for-character match when you strip out the spaces — you get a super bonus.
For example, if you registered patricksfunnydomain.com , and tried to rank for [Easter Bingo Cards], you might need hundreds of links or dozens of links until you’re competitive for that search result. f I was putting it on Bingo Card Creator, which has hundreds of links, it would probably rank on the top page but near the bottom of it, until I built a significant amount of links directly to that page. The exact match bonus causes easterbingocards.com to rank in the top three with a handful of links in a matter of weeks — a link from my blog, a few from directories, that is all it takes really.
There’s a lot of gems in what he’s saying right there. Let’s go into one of his micro sites.
Examination of a Micro Site
Here’s one of Patrick’s micro sites that has an exact match domain:
Really basic site, has a theme that matches the topic, a few content pages (home + 4 subpages) and a hell of a lot of links to his money site (bingocardcreator.com). The entire point of this site is to act simply as a landing page, capturing visitors who were searching for “halloween bingo cards”, and sending them to his actual bingo card site to get them to buy cards.
What he’s doing here though is leveraging the fact that he owns www.halloweenbingocards.net and because of that ranks #1 for that keyword. So he’s getting a bunch of clicks without doing much of anything. Some simple linkbuilding and that domain name, and he made it to the top.
I want to go over some of the numbers behind his site to show you what I mean in terms of a micro site and how effective the exact match domain name can be in terms of ranking. Here’s the keyword research data (I know, I haven’t gone over this topic yet for Market Samurai, I will next week probably):
About 120 searches a day, with an allintitle (SEOTC) competition of just 1,930. Those search numbers are a little low, but they are averaged out throughout the year. Searches in Halloween time would probably be significantly higher (I believe he said he got somewhere around 30,000 visitors during that week).
Next is the front page competition data:
This is where you can truly see how effective an exact match domain name is. As you can see, his site is firmly at #1, while his stats are pretty much terrible compared to his competitors. He has the lowest domain backlinks of everyone, pretty weak page backlinks, moderate Page Rank, and doesn’t even have his keyword in his meta description.
But none of that matters because he has an exact match keyword domain name. This is a perfect example of why these sites work so well. Just look at the PR spread of his backlinks (all 57 of them):
His on page setup is good, take a look:
So nothing truly earth shattering here, just a really good example of how to leverage your exact match domain name to rank high and fast. I have a few plans to further pursue this topic, both from the research side of things as well as from the case study side, so I’ll try and keep this topic fresh as we move forward.
I’m planning on launching a one page (well technically, it will have About, Privacy, and Contact pages) site over the weekend to sell a little info product (not a bullshit make money online ebook, something that has nothing to do with the web and that is well written and pretty useful to people who care). I have an exact match .org domain and the site design/lander ready, and am now just finishing up the content.
My plan is to pretty thoroughly document the linkbuilding I do and the rankings that follow from them. I’m going to be using a mix of a few popular techniques so it should be interesting.I’ll try and be as candid as possible without giving away the niche. I also might (I stress the might here) do a bit of Facebook Advertising for this site as there is a specific demographic I’m targeting that I can pretty cheaply it there.
I’m going to start with organic traffic though.