Case Study Update #1 (October 2022): The Foundation

Welcome to my niche site case study!

This is my first update, so there’s nothing all that exciting to report.

But with that said, hope you enjoy.

I’ve been building niche sites for 7 years now (see more on my about page). It’s been a little while since I’ve launched a new site, as I’ve been so busy with other things.

But I got the urge to start a new one and realized I had a few extra hours to spare each week, so here I am.

The first step was obviously choosing a niche. I’ve had one in mind for a while now. It’s super broad (there are literally millions of keyword opportunities) and it’s a topic that’s interested me my whole life.

People drive them. That’s your hint šŸ˜‰

I found a fantastic domain name that’s never been used before, and registered it in early September.

I was very busy, so it sat for a few weeks before I built the foundation for the site. Here’s what I did:

  • Set up WordPress
  • Customized the theme slightly
  • Added a logo and favicon
  • Added the necessary legal pages (privacy policy and terms of service)
  • Added a contact page
  • Added my first category (will add more later)

If you’re curious what tools/resources I’m using for this site, I have a page dedicated to that šŸ™‚

Over the next few days, I wrote and published three short posts targeting very easy keywords.

By the way, I already had a list of 200+ easy keywords to target. If you’re curious how I find good keywords, I’ve written a few articles about it.

A couple weeks later, I published 19 more posts using the brand swapping method. These posts were all super similar. I only made a few changes in each one, because the rest of the information was the same.

My site started getting impressions from Google and even a few clicks almost right away.

But then the Spam update hit and my site dropped off the map.

Google search console data for case study site

I’m not worried though, as it’s a brand new site and updates typically wipe out fresh sites regardless of the content quality.

With that said, I’m considering removing a bunch of the posts that are similar, and just having a single post with all the information. It won’t be as well-targeted to people’s searches, but at least it’ll have the information searchers are looking for and definitely won’t be “thin” content.

I’m not very concerned about thin or duplicate content at this point, because it’s not deceptive or in opposition to Google’s guidelines. But the Spam update wiping out my site does worry me just slightly.

What’s more important to keep in mind than thin or duplicate content is Google’s Helpful Content update. I want to make sure my site is truly a good resource and objectively “helpful”, and not obviously “written for search engines”.

By having dozens of posts that are the same except for a few tiny details like year and specifications, I fear it looks like I’m publishing content for search engines and not users.

I could simply publish one post as a “definitive resource” and include all the information from the other posts and not worry that it looks like I’m publishing for search engines.

Either way, I think I’ll be fine. But I also think it’s best to be on the safe side. I’ll probably reassess a month from now. At this time, I don’t plan to delete those very similar posts.

My plan now is to start adding new posts like crazy.

Ok, not super crazy. But a couple dozen a month at least.

I ordered the 25,000-word package from Hands Off Publishing and a 10 Staple Posts package from Passion Posts.

In total, I ordered 41 articles ranging from 500-1250 words depending on what was needed to cover the topic well.

I realize 500 words is super short, but honestly some topics don’t need more than that. I always check the first page of Google to see what’s working. For those 500-word articles I ordered, 500 was actually more than what other sites had. It all depends on the keyword.

I’ll be adding the articles to the site as they’re completed.

I don’t expect to see any major results for a few months, but I won’t let that stop me. I’ll just keep publishing content since that’s what I can control (I won’t be actively building any links by the way).

So, here’s where everything stands right now:

Niche Site Growth October 2022 report

The most important thing is that I keep publishing. That’s what I can control. I can’t directly control how much traffic my site gets, or the income it generates.

So I need to double-down on publishing more content no matter what.

With that said, here are my goals for November:

  • Publish at least 30 new posts

That’s it.

Keeping it simple.

Remember, I only have a few hours a week available for this. So I’m just going to stick to what moves the needle the most, which is content.

Ultimately, my overarching goal is to reach a $100,000 valuation in one year. To get there, I need to average $2,500/mo over a period of 6 months, assuming a generous sales multiple of 40x monthly revenue.

This goal is quite a stretch, but the more quality content I publish, the more realistic it is.

And that’s it for this report! Hope you enjoyed reading it. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Last thing: if you want to get these reports and the tactics I use as soon as I publish them, subscribe to my email list!

6 thoughts on “Case Study Update #1 (October 2022): The Foundation”

  1. Hey

    41 articles – how did you research the titles for all of these?

    What do I do if Iā€™m struggling for ideas for article content?

    • Hey Joe,

      I mainly found those particular 41 keywords using forums. Here’s the exact method.

      Then I validated the keywords by analyzing the first page. Here’s how I do that.

      For the titles, I just based them on the keywords. So if I was targeting the keyword “kawasaki kx250 not starting” (I’m not), I would title the article something like “Kawasaki KX250 Not Starting? Here’s the Solution”

      If you’re struggling to find article ideas, check out that first post I linked to, along with this one and this one. šŸ™‚

      Hope this helps!

  2. Great start, looking forward to following along.


    How Targeted is your niche/domain?

    IE, if you are in the automotive niche, is your domain or

    What are you doing in terms of topic clusters? Are you ensuring that all your keywords can be interlinked well? Or simply choosing any keyword in the niche as long as it’s low competition?


    • Hey Struan,

      The domain is super broad. It can accommodate anything in my niche. Didn’t want to paint myself in a corner!

      For now, I have one topic cluster that’s very well interlinked, and a bunch of other articles that are just low competition, with no particular clustering and only interlinking wherever it makes sense. Kinda testing both approaches in one go. šŸ™‚

      Good questions!

  3. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for this wonderful case study I have one question when you are targeting the keyword for the article are you looking for the keyword difficulty and the search volume

    If yes, then what’s the search volume and keyword difficulty keyword I should if I am starting a new blog

    Looking forward for your kind response


    • Hey Rahul,

      Ian here (not Joe) šŸ™‚

      Yes, I look at search volume and I analyze the keyword difficulty based on what’s ranking on the first page. I don’t look at difficulty scores from SEO tools. Doing a manual check is much more reliable. Here’s how I analyze the first page.

      For a brand new site, I would target keywords with mostly UGC results ranking, or keywords with partially matched or unmatched intent. If you can’t find those (for some niches both of those things are next to impossible to find), then I’d target keywords where there is at least one low DA (less than 10 ideally) site ranking on the first page. In either case, make sure your content is top-notch. Great keyword targeting with low-quality content is not sustainable.

      Hope this helps!



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