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  1. #1
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    How far down the food chain should niche sites go?
    I'm puzzling over something and hope I can get some pointers with generalities.

    Let's say I have a general grocery site (like a mall) and find that the produce department is a good producing area. So I make a niche site for produce with a few different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Some are ok, a few are good and then I discover that apples, which I don't have yet, are really good and there's a good apple merchant with a lot of product.

    Do I add on a new apples section to the existing produce site, or go further down the food chain and make a whole narrower niche site for just the different kind of apples - fiji apples, macintosh, delicious, green apples, eating apples, cooking apples?

    How do you decide when to expand horizontally or go vertical and make another, more narrowly niched site?

  2. #2
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    Good question I usually do both, smaller niche on the mall site then make a site for just apples. The mall usually does nothing for me and I lose interest in it and focus on the apple niche site. I use my mall site to test new programs or so it seems to be that way.

  3. #3
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    I would go as far niche to the point it's actually something people search for.

  4. #4
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Let's say I have a general grocery site (like a mall) and find that the produce department is a good producing area. So I make a niche site for produce with a few different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Some are ok, a few are good and then I discover that apples, which I don't have yet, are really good and there's a good apple merchant with a lot of product.

    Do I add on a new apples section to the existing produce site, or go further down the food chain and make a whole narrower niche site for just the different kind of apples - fiji apples, macintosh, delicious, green apples, eating apples, cooking apples?
    I'd take it down to the produce level, but that's it. People may suddenly decide pears taste better next year. Or maybe they actually always buy pears now, and are just looking at apples because they've heard something interesting about them! I'd at least test to make sure people will actually BUY the apples, before investing (time and money) in a new site just for them.

    That said...
    How do you decide when to expand horizontally or go vertical and make another, more narrowly niched site?
    It'd be pulling teeth, molars no less, to get me to make another niche site!! I have a horrendous amount of dud niche sites that seemed like they'd go over based on preliminary mall performance results. I used to hit 50/50 on niches, but over time, that ratio changed...for the worse.

    I have had some successes with niches, though, and the only thing that seems to be common among them is that they did REALLY GREAT in the mall--to the point that they hugely overshadowed the performance of the rest of the mall site. Faddish trends (NOT fashion or high-tech, though) seem to do well, too, if I can catch the wave before the Rest of the Place gets the clue. The problem with that is, eventually the trend cools...

    Some people say they do very well with niche sites, though. That's why I'll have no qualms (ethically speaking), when I sell off some of my niche domains. Maybe they'll find a good home... (Although my domains are like my "children" and it'll be sad to sell any of them!)
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    If you're putting up a site just to generate pages without any added value, you might as well go as broad as possible.

    If you're actually trying to add some value and will be doing something unique, diversify to the point that you can be an authority. If you can cover everything about any type of produce, stop there. If not, go deeper. If you can cover everything about apples, stop there. If not, go deeper. If you can cover everything about Granny Smith apples, stop there.

    Once you've found something you can become an authority on, it's okay to expand a bit into fringe areas that you're not an authority on as well.

    I worked for a guy who run an apple store, and this is exactly what he did. He had probably 10-20 varieties of applies, plus he had a small selection of other fruits, canned stuff, etc.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    What a great question, and poignant for me. I have a grocery site that's spinning it's wheels, and I think it's because I have it too "mall like".

    What about just using sub domains for the different product types? Too much work for too little result?

    ie apples.mygrocerysite.com

    Some engines would prefer this, no?

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I would recommend focusing on the users, not the search engines.
    Michael Coley
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  8. #8
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I would recommend focusing on the users, not the search engines.
    Sound advice in any circumstance

  9. #9
    Sgt. Joe Friday frank3iii's Avatar
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    I agree with the opinions posted. The decision is always up to you and since you asked for opinions here is mine.

    How do you decide when to expand horizontally or go vertical and make another, more narrowly niched site?
    I think I would do both. I would expand the produce pages to include a section on fruits. Feature the apples that are in demand.

    With domains as cheap as they are, (and assuming space and bandwidth aren't a problem) I would put up an apples site. A link from your fruits section to the niche apples site saying something like 'click here for the most complete selection of apples on the internet'. Or, something like that.

    A stand-alone site might be easier to get inbound links for organic search. And easier (?) to do ppc with.

    Michael hit the nail squarely on the correct end. Do for the customers.

    Frank
    "Just the facts, Ma'am." Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet

  10. #10
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    I would recommend focusing on the users, not the search engines.
    Actually, the first "expansion" happened on a site to give users more options - and to get more pageviews. The site had just about reached its maximum potential for the original niche product type, so I tried to do what Amazon does with "people who bought this also liked..."

    I tried to figure out what else users/visitors might be interested in when coming in for those products to try some cross-selling. It broke the specific "theme" and focus a bit, even though the qualifying keyword is the same, but the other products have brought a broader variety and quantity of search engine traffic (and income).
    It started out with what was like an original store with one type of products, then expanded into kind of a little mini-mall. Kind of like a bookstore adds a Starbucks or maybe a greeting card section - "also interested" stuff.

    I've already gotten started with another niche site that's an off-shoot from one of the sections that had been added on to that one with a blend of a few products. The new site is still not too narrowly niched, it's got a few closely related product lines which I feel is a much safer way to go.

    Now I'm thinking of another site for the type of product lines from another of the sections that had been added on, but that one could be subdivided even further with more specific focus. Plus I've got another pretty general niche market type site which is getting a little out of hand with adding on product types - same deal on that one as the first - broadening out horizontally.

    This is why I'm wondering how far down the food chain to go, how much go to about not necessarily splitting off, but creating larger, focused sites for given areas.

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