I’d like to start this article by pointing out that ‘Niche Website’ and ‘Authority Website’ are just jargon. Both concepts are used to describe a certain type of website, but in reality, most websites are somewhere in between of the two types.
The word ‘niche’ is what causes the most confusion. Both types of websites are actually centered around a specific niche, but the main difference is that a ‘Niche Site’ is centered around a smaller niche, and the ‘Authority Site’ covers a larger niche. Because of this difference, the strategy to get traffic, and make money with them, is also different.
To make these differences as clear as possible, I’ll try to draw as much of a contrast as possible between the two.
So, what is a Niche Site?
A Niche Site is a small website, covering a small niche. The main strategy is to capture as much targeted traffic as possible for your keywords from the search engines. Niche sites are also called ‘Microniche sites’, or ‘sniper sites’.
These are the typical characteristics:
- Centered around a (very) small niche. Just to throw a ballpark figure out there; your main keywords, get 0 to a few thousand searches a month.
- Focussed on commercial keywords. The main keywords on a niche site are often a product that you’re looking to sell. Because of this, you’ll generally make more money per pageview than with an Authority Website.
- Contains only a couple of pages. You’ll eventually reach a point of saturation; you can’t write anything new on your niche.
- Limited growth potential. A niche site will reach a plateau in visitors and earnings early. The only way to scale up your earnings with niche sites, is to build more niche sites.
- The traffic strategy is usually to get organic traffic. A niche site will have a larger percentage of new visitors to the website than an Authority Website. To create a successful niche website, your SEO has to be on point. By going for a very small niche, you might be the only website on that specific niche, and it won’t be hard to rank for your keywords.
- Niche sites use a SEO-optimized domain name to get a boost in ranking. This could mean your domain name is just your keywords. This is called an Exact Match Domain, or EMD for short.
- Focussed on the “Set it and forget it” strategy. Generally these sites requires less maintenance. I personally own a niche site that I haven’t done any serious amounts of work on in months, but it steadily keeps me earning a few hundred dollars a month.
- Less competition because of the smaller niche. It’ll therefore take less time to get some traffic to it.
And what is an Authority website?
An authority site is a website in a larger niche. The main strategy is to build (brand) name recognition, a loyal audience, and gain their trust. You can then sell products to your audience. They’re called authority sites, because by using this strategy, you want yourself and your website to be seen as an authority on your niche.
These are the typical characteristics:
- Centered around a larger niche or a market. Ballpark figure: the main keyword gets searched more than 10,000 times per month.
- More focus on ‘informational keywords’ than a Niche Site. Your audience won’t necessarily be in a ‘buying mood’ when searching for keywords that you use on your site. Your site will generally earn less money per pageview than a Niche Site.
- An authority site has a large and ever expanding amount of content. Most authority websites will never run out of subjects to write about.
- Somewhat ‘unlimited’ in growth potential. Authority websites can scale up a lot in visitors and earnings. The largest authority sites can actually be full-blown companies, with a team of writers, editors, social media managers, marketers, etc.
- The traffic strategy is mainly to build up an audience / fan following. A lot of the visitors to your website will be returning visitors. Common tactics are to build an email list, and getting as much likes and followers on social media accounts as possible. Having an audience will be very beneficial; every piece of content you publish will get read, and liked or shared on social media. You’ll also be more likely to get linked to, which will help your SEO. All of this will make your site ‘snowball‘ over time.
- Authority websites generally use a ‘brandable’ domain name.
- The strategy means you’ll have to consistantly create new content for your audience. So it’s less ‘passive’, as new content is expected by your audience. Of course, you can eventually outsource the content creation to lower the amount of work you have to put in yourself.
- Because you’re in a larger niche, you’ll have more competition than a niche site, and it’ll take longer to get traffic.
Which one should you build?
Both types can be highly successful. It also comes down to your personal preference.
However, if you’re looking to build your first website, I recommend going for a niche site. This will get you to go through the entire process quicker; it’ll cost less time to build, rank, get traffic, and eventually some sales. Therefore, it’ll be a faster learning experience. I started out with a niche site myself. I followed an online training program on building affiliate websites, and built my niche website based on the training courses.
Because the site was successful, it convinced me on the entire concept of making money with my own websites (I was skeptical at first). Now, I feel comfortable building larger websites, and I’m now in the process of building two authority websites (I consider this one of them).
Which of the two types do you prefer? Or do you still have some questions on the differences? Leave me a comment below!