Debate: Niche Sites Vs. Authority Sites

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

Debate: Niche Sites Vs. Authority Sites

If you’re in the business of building and monetizing websites, you’ve no doubt heard arguments for and against building niche or authority sites.

Many niche site builders have recently switched to creating authority sites while others have found value in creating niche sites at scale.

So which site creation path is best? Should we be focusing on niche sites or authority sites?

Most of you know which side of the fence our business is on, but there are some pretty compelling reasons to create authority sites as well.  To answer the question, we’ve turned to a couple of seriously successful niche and authority site creators to hear what they have to say.

Steve ScottSteve Scott

Steve Scott owns and manages an extremely popular blog at  He has an authority site that has earned him six figures in affiliate income in 2011 and is on track to do even better in 2012.  When not making a full-time living online, he spends his time and money traveling and enjoying the “Internet Lifestyle”.

Steve will be arguing in favor of Authority Sites.

You can find out more about Steve at his About Me Page.

Mike ThomasMike Thomas

Mike has been HUSTLING in 2012 and blogging about it at He’s been focused on scaling his niche site creation process, creating a ton of value for himself and others through his sites for sale here.  He’s an American, but has been living in Turkey and traveling Southeast Asia for the past several years.

Mike will be arguing in favor of Niche Sites.

You can find out more about Mike at his About Me Page.

This is a four part debate

  1. Steve will make his argument in favor of Authority Sites
  2. Mike will argue in favor of Niche Sites
  3. Steve has read Mike’s post and will offer a rebuttal in favor of Authority Sites
  4. Mike has read Steve’s post and provides a rebuttal in favor of Niche Sites

Warning: While I’m EXTREMELY glad I reached out to both Mike and Steve and they’ve provided some excellent content, this post is over 4,500 words and our longest yet.  When you’re finished reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the debate and whether you’d like to see more “debate” type posts in the future.

I’ve edited for formatting, but have left the content unedited.

EDIT:  There’s now an audio version of this debate (A Text-To-Speech version) that you can listen to or download!

Click here to listen – Or Righ Click and Save As to download!

Big thanks for Annie from for providing the audio version!

Now it’s over to them!

Argument For Authority Sites From Steve

Lately there’s been a lot of debate on the profitability of authority sites vs. niche sites. I’ve been an authority affiliate marketer since 2006. So I’m a firm believer that the best strategy is to focus on building one site instead of creating a catalog of small niche sites.

Let me give you four reasons why you should be an authority site builder…

#1. Why People Build Niche Sites

There are many ways to define these two income models. Here’s how I’d categorize each:

  • A niche site targets a topic based on a set of keywords. These web properties rely on a single income model like Google Adsense, Clickbank products, or physical products from Amazon. Most niche sites provide a small amount of content that’s designed to get an instant “sale” from the user.
  • An authority site targets a specific market or group of like-minded individuals. It differs from a niche site because it’s designed to be the ultimate resource for that topic. Its primary goal isn’t to make an instant sale. Instead the site is used to educate the user in order to establish a long-term (but profitable) relationship.

That’s my very basic definition of the two income models.

It’s this definition that supports my first point…

The goal of a niche site is to make money, not provide value to the visitor. The goal of most “nichepreneurs” is to crank out dozens of websites in a streamlined, systematic manner. Helping the visitor get what they actually want comes secondary to the desires of the site owner.

On the other hand, an authority site comes from passion about a particular topic. You’re not building dozens of low-quality websites. Instead you’re singularly focused on creating a site that people will love.

I think this is the best long-term strategy for an Internet business. It’s the perfect example of my favorite quote: “It’s better to do one thing great; than ten things fair.”

#2. Authority Sites are Designed for Long-Term Success

Yes, you’ll have more short term success with a niche site. It’s easy to slap up a ten-page blog and make money from organic search traffic. On the other hand, it takes time to build an authority site that becomes an ultimate resource.

With that said, an authority site is designed for long-term success. Here are just a few ways you can profit from this income model:

  1. More product purchases because people trust your recommendations
  2. More traffic because people tell others about your content.
  3. More scalability because you can reuse content on different multimedia platforms
  4. More money because you’re creating information products
  5. More connections because people will want to promote your offers
  6. More enjoyment because you CARE about your topic

Having an authority site is like being the Tortoise in that classic fable. While the Hare (niche site builder) is hopping away and experiencing setbacks; you’re making slow, but steady progress on something that will last.

ROI on Authority Sites#3. Authority Sites Have a Better Return on Investment

You need to invest a significant amount of money on a niche site business. For instance, here are a few things you might purchase:

  • Keyword research tools
  • Domain registration
  • Web hosting (usually a shared account)
  • Word Press themes
  • Backlinking packages
  • “Automated” software programs
  • Virtual assistants

Total all these up and it can cost around a $100 to build a niche site that gets a solid ranking in the search engines.

Now compare this to the money you’ll make…

An average niche site generates anywhere from $50 to $500 a month. Some more; some less. This might sound great; but this money is far from guaranteed. Often, Google won’t like something about your site and it’ll get sandboxed; even delisted. That means you’ve lost the site and your financial investment.

How is this different from an authority site?

An authority site doesn’t require a huge initial investment. Usually it’s less than a $100:

  • $10 for domain registration
  • $7 for monthly hosting
  • $20 for a monthly subscription to Aweber
  • $5 to $50 for an eCover image for a free offer to build a list

That’s all you need to get started!

Then you can bootstrap this business by hustling, making connections, and creating great content.

Now compare this to the money you’ll make…

Authority sites have an unlimited return on investment. Like I mentioned in point #2; there are countless ways to grow your business. Once you’ve attracted a loyal audience – They will TELL you what they want. All you have to do is align an offer to their desires and it’s easy to make a full-time income.

#4. Niche Sites are Risky

Read the following very carefully…

Building a niche site is NOT a business. Most of its success depends on a top ranking from the search engines – Specifically Google. If you’ve been around for awhile then you know that Google has more mood swings than Sybil. There are countless examples of Google demolishing entire businesses with ONE algorithm change.

In addition, most niche sites depend on a single source of revenue. Again, this is risky because your sites can be heavily impacted by an unforeseeable event.

Don’t believe me?

Here are three examples of what’s happened in the last year:

  • Example 1: Amazon shut down their affiliate programs in a few states. Imagine you’re earning a full-time income from Amazon while living in one of these states? In a single day your entire business is GONE.
  • Example 2: Google has recently suspended many Adsense accounts. Most of these people are honest publishers who followed every rule – Like Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits. Again, with a single decision your revenue is GONE.
  • Example 3: Google just rolled out their Penguin update. Your niche sites relied heavily on aggressive backlinking. So naturally Google dumps your sites down to the 107th page of their listings. No traffic means NO income.

These three things happened in the past year. Who knows what else is in store for niche sites? Odds are; any upcoming change is not going to be a pleasant one for this income model.

Why Authority Sites are NOT Risky…

Yes, authority sites can be penalized just like a niche site. Its saving grace comes from diversity. You get traffic and income from of a variety of places. So an authority site is more resilient to any unforeseeable change in the Internet marketing space.

Authority sites are designed around building a thriving audience. Loyal followers don’t give a crap if your site has been dumped by Google. They’ll stick around – No matter what!

My Closing Argument…

I’d like to conclude with a simple exercise…

Imagine you’re a guy who lives on the Jersey Shore. {Don’t laugh…That’s where I live year round.}

You need to lose about ten pounds for the summer and want six-pack abs like The Situation. So you do a quick search for six-pack abs and come across two websites:

  1. The first is This site has about ten pages of content that’s designed around getting you to buy the “Truth about Abs” information product. The articles are okay; but you feel that the #1 goal of writer is to make money.
  2. The second link is to a YouTube channel called Six Pack Shortcuts. You find over 100 free videos on this channel; with tons of exercises and meal plans. What you like about this channel is they provide great content upfront before asking anything in return.

So answer these questions:

Which of these sites would you trust? More importantly, which site would cause you to pull out your wallet and spend money on a paid product? Even more importantly, which site would you go to for FUTURE purchases?

This is a perfect example of why it’s best to focus on one authority site instead of small, low-quality niche sites. Ultimately it’s the income model that provides value to the reader and the highest level of profitability.

Argument For Niche Sites From Mike

Niche websites aren’t perfect but they sure are lucrative. I’m not going to try to convince you that they are better than authority sites because they’re not. Neither one is better than the other. I will however argue in defense of niche sites as a potentially valuable resource for authority site builders, and also as completely independent legitimate websites. In order to do this we will have to look at our goals in niche site creation, our definition of what a niche site is, and when a niche site (and less content) can actually be more helpful than an elaborate authority site.

First lets discuss niche sites as a research tool. Most of the time niche site creation is like a testing ground for potential authority sites. In other words, niche site creation should be seen as a form of extensive and inexpensive keyword research to see if a niche can be entered easily and profitably.

I’ll explain this idea of keyword research a bit further:

Let’s say you want to create an authority site about weight loss because you know it’s a profitable niche and you want to cash in on the high Adsense clicks. The first thing you need is a domain, right? So what you do is go out and try to find an exact match domain that isn’t already registered that has at least 1000 local searches per month and a CPC of $1 or more. Let’s say that you are lucky enough to be able to find that (good luck). Then you look at the first page competition for the domains you’ve found and determine which ones you will have a good possibility of ranking for. After that you then start building your site. Even with great content and a solid link-building campaign there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get first page rankings for your exact match domain. If you can’t even get rankings for your domain’s keyword phrase then it will most likely be difficult to get high rankings for the other articles you publish on your website. That’s where niche site creation comes in.

No matter how “scientific” you get with your niche research, building niche websites still amounts to throwing sh!# up against a wall and hoping and praying that it sticks. The niche site builder can make the sites more likely to “stick” against the wall with educated keyword research, but even the best and brightest niche site builders are gambling a bit with each site they create. Therefore each niche website that has “stuck” on the wall has gone through and passed multiple tests by the time it “comes to market” and is for sale on a Buy Our Sites page or on a listing at Flippa. This is why niche site builders ask for 20 months’ income for these sites. These sites shouldn’t be seen as “thin content” sites but as an opportunity to build on something that has already been successful.

Profitable Niche SitesSo if they are so successful then why sell them? Why doesn’t the niche site builder simply outsource more content and build the successful sites into “monster” authority sites?

Don’t think that we don’t do this sometimes. Most niche site builders hold on to some sites and build them out. My biggest argument against creating authority sites is that I’m able to make more money cranking out niche sites than I am with building successful ones into authority sites. However I do think there are those out there with the skills to take these niche sites, leverage their initial success, and build a business around selling them on Flippa or simply by holding onto them and collecting a passive income.

Is a niche site more likely to get penalized or deindexed than an authority site?

It all depends on how you build your niche sites. I’ve seen supposed “authority” websites that have a ton of content but were spammy as heck with spun or poorly-written content, no images, and placed on a free commonly-used theme. I’ve also seen niche sites that had only one page of content, but the content was well-written, included relevant images, and was placed on a theme with a unique header. If you were a Google reviewer which website would you penalize first?

I know, I know…I’m being unfair. The differences between authority and niche sites are not usually that black and white, but I exaggerate because lately niche sites seem to have become synonymous with “black hat” or “spam” sites while authority sites’ sh!# doesn’t stink. I think this calls for a clear definition of the two:

  • Niche site: A website with unique, quality content usually focused on a highly specific subject that makes money while answering the search engine visitor’s query.
  • Authority site: A website with unique, quality content that elaborates on a subject that makes money while answering the search engine visitor’s query.
  • Spam site: A website with copied or poorly written content with the sole intent of making money with no concern for the search engine visitor.

Sometimes niche sites can stand on their own. So let’s say someone is searching for “blue duct tape”. Most likely that person is looking for a place to buy blue duct tape or they would like to learn about their brand options before making a purchase. If I create a website completely focused around blue duct tape which explains all about the different brands, places to buy, costs etc., and I make money from that site with advertising, is that spam if the searcher’s query is answered? What more can an authority site do than a niche website in this situation? The search term “blue duct tape” doesn’t require extensive content in order to satisfy the searcher’s query. Therefore, in this case, a niche site is an adequate and economical search result for the query in question. Building this sort of niche site out with more content would be superfluous and could possibly affect the search engine user’s experience negatively. Therefore the old adage “less is more” is appropriately applicable.

But sometimes niche sites do need more.

When the search term can be expanded on to better help the user experience then these niche sites should be expanded into authority sites. That’s why niche site and authority site builders should work together. The niche site builder creates the initial website while the authority site builder takes that initial successful website and builds onto it to create a more valuable experience for the search engine user. In this scenario everyone wins, including the most important one of all; the all-mighty judge, jury, and executioner: Google.

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Steve’s Rebuttal In Favor Of Authority Sites

I’d like to start by saying that Mike’s article was excellent. He raised a number of valid points about the profitability of niche sites. And it’s awesome to hear that he’s had a lot of success with this income model.

With that said…

There are three primary reasons why I still disagree with the idea of developing niche websites:

Google Penalties#1 Google

My main problem with niche sites is the overreliance on Google’s search engine traffic. Your entire income depends on an external factor that you don’t control.

Google has proven countless times that they hate “thin content.” It doesn’t matter if you make the best “blue duct tape” website on the Internet. If the Big G doesn’t like it – Your site is toast.

As Mike has stated; Google is “the all-mighty judge, jury, and executioner.

That last word – Executioner – is an apt description. They hold all the keys to the kingdom to when it comes profiting from a niche site. You could follow every written (and unwritten) rule Google has about creating websites and still get slapped with a penalty.

The best part?

Google will never say what you did wrong. All you’ll get is a sudden drop in traffic and maybe a canned autoresponder saying your site broke one of their 10,000 rules.

I’m sure you know what it’s like to get a penalty by Google. One day you’re making money and then suddenly your income disappears. The end result is that awful kicked-in-the-stomach-nausea feeling which happens when you lose a lot of money.

Not fun, right?

#2 Future Income

Yes, right now you can make a solid income by cranking out niche sites. But I don’t think it’s the best long-term strategy. It reminds me of another quote that I love:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

You want to be forward thinking with any business. You can’t rely on stuff that’s sorta working nowadays. The best thing to do is to understand where the market is going and then go there.

Niche site development is becoming an outdated way to generate income. I’ve seen this happen before with article marketing and pay-per-click. Lots of people made money with these business models. Now they’re working for ‘the man’ because one change in the marketplace put them out of business.

#3 Personal Enjoyment

It’s impossible to create something with true value if you’re not passionate about the topic. Yes, it’s easy to build a catalog of profitable websites. But it’s another thing to write great content on all of these web properties.

I remember my experiences with building niche sites. I covered a variety of topics like football jerseys, beat making software, getting back with your ex, and iPad covers. The content was okay – But it wasn’t great. The reason? Writing these articles was a chore because I didn’t care about the subject matter.

Running an Internet business is supposed to be fun. It’s a great feeling to talk about what you love and then get paid for it!
You don’t get that feeling while building niche sites. Either you’re hiring someone to write the content or you’re forced to do it yourself. Neither sounds like a very enjoyable experience.

Building an authority site is the best option because you focus on ONE niche. This is a market where you get to “geek out” on the subject matter. People will pay attention because your passion and expertise will obvious to the whole world.

To me, that sounds like the perfect recipe for personal enjoyment and lifetime profitability.

Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this debate.

Are you with me? Or do you agree with Mike?

No matter what, I wish you the best of success with your Internet business – Even if you’re building niche sites. 🙂

Mike’s Rebuttal In Favor Of Niche Sites

Steve made some great points in his article, and he has actually peaked my interest in creating more authority sites. That being said, niche sites are extremely profitable so I think both business models can live together in harmony. However, being a “debate” and all I will provide some rebuttals to his arguments.

#1 Why People Build Niche Sites

Steve argues that the niche site is more focused on an instant sale or click instead of creating a long-term relationship with the user, and I completely agree with this point. Most niche sites are designed to make a profit from a single user’s visit to the website, but that is simply how they are designed. They are targeting search terms that most visitors probably won’t want to join a list for or interact with a community sharing ideas about. If we return to our “blue duct tape” example, how many people are going to join a list about duct tape?

That being said, perhaps they would be interested in joining a Home Improvement list, which is an idea we could explore in the future.

Steve also said something that I disagree with:

“The goal of a niche site is to make money, not provide value to the visitor”.

If this is the way that you are building your niche sites then you’re going to get the big old Google slap the first time your site gets a manual review. A proper niche site should provide value to the user AND be profitable at the same time. You can easily see if users are staying on your page by checking out your bounce rate in Google analytics. If it’s too high then you can expect your rankings to start decreasing in the SERPS.  Niche sites that don’t answer the user’s query are not niche sites, they are spam sites.

Steve had a nice quote saying:

“It’s better to do one thing great; than ten things fair.”

I totally agree with that, but when making niche sites we should adjust it to be:

“It’s better to do one HUNDRED things great; than ten things fair.”  🙂

#2 Authority Sites are Designed for Long-Term Success

You’ve said two important things here:

1. “It’s easy to slap up a ten-page blog and make money from organic search traffic.”

Yes it is. That’s one of the advantages of making niche sites. Once you understand the process you can easily “slap up” site after site while the money comes rolling in. This makes niche site building a great option for people new to Internet marketing.

2. “It takes time to build an authority site

Niche sites don’t take as much time to build and get ranking as authority sites do. Authority sites can be much more time-consuming, and the learning curve to creating a successful, profitable site can be much longer.

Steve also compared niche site builders to the hare in the Tortoise and the Hare. This is a great comparison if the authority site builder is actually building something that is going to be profitable. However a lot of times people spend a lot of time on becoming an authority on something that they love only to find out that there’s little or no money in the niche. The great thing about niche sites is that you know very soon if a niche is profitable or not, and you don’t have all your time invested in one thing.

#3 Authority Sites Have a Better Return on Investment

Niche sites cost me about $30 each to make.  I make about 100 of them a month at a cost of $3000 and I expect these 100 sites to make (in total) a minimum of $10/day in three-months time (a very low and pessimistic estimate). Assuming that I don’t sell any of these sites for a quick profit, I will make my investment back in a little over a year. Is that a bad investment?

I won’t argue that authority sites aren’t profitable when done right, but you can’t ignore the sweet profits to be had from niche site building. Also, there’s no guaranteed money from authority site building either. Sometimes they fail. The initial costs might be lower to start an authority site, but the skills you need to be able to write great content and truly connect with your list are slowly learned. Sure you can buy yourself a nice Aweber account, but you can’t buy a loyal audience; you have to earn it.

Niche Site Army#4 Niche Sites are Risky

Steve said, “Building a niche site is NOT a business

He is absolutely right. Having one or just a couple niche sites can’t be considered a business. However, building or owning hundreds of niche sites definitely can be a business if you treat it that way. The whole nature of niche sites is not to have just one, but to have an army of them. If one site loses rankings or gets deindexed for some reason you still have 99 more behind it backing it up.

Some people have had their Adsense accounts banned, but we don’t have any evidence that there’s a correlation between having hundreds of niche sites and getting banned. Yes, Spencer at Niche Pursuits had his accounts banned, but he was never told that it was because he had niche sites.

As far as traffic is concerned, yes, niche sites are mainly dependent upon Google for visitors coming to the sites, and thus income. If we keep our focus on creating a good user experience then Google should actually be thankful that we are creating content in niches where information is sparse or poorly covered. As long as the users are happy and keep searching with Google then there’s no reason why we can’t share in the profits too.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s been a pleasure “arguing” this issue with Steve. He really knows his stuff and I look forward to digging into his blog and learning more about authority site building. When it comes to building websites or any other business it’s always important that we share ideas like this freely. Thanks to guys like Steve, and Justin and Joe from the Adsense Flippers we can try to break the stereotype of the sleazy Internet Marketer and truly solidify Internet Marketing as a legitimate business sector.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your opinions in the comments below.

Justin – HUGE thanks to both Steve and Mike for making this happen. I’m interested and excited to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you thought this post was valuable, please make sure to share it with others on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you hang out!

Now…over to you! Whow do YOU think won? Do you prefer niche sites or authority sites and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Jay says:

    They both have there pluses and minuses as discussed in your article.

    I would definitely lean towards authority sites where you can focus all your energy.

    If you have the budget to outsource your niche sites content writing etc… then it is definitely worth your time in my opinion.

    But if not your just spreading yourself to thin.

    Excellent argument for both sides.

  • Juan says:

    First of all, great debate here guys, definitely one of the most interesting posts I’ve read in a long time.

    I have an authority site on sleep health. I’ve had for about 1.5 years and am considering the idea of creating niche sites using some of it’s content.

    My question is, if I remove some posts from the authority site and move them into a new niche site, will Google penalize either of my sites. For example, if I move my sleep apnea mask review post from my sleep health authority website and into a new sleep apnea mask niche website, will either website get penalized by Google?

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Juan,

      If the content is removed from the authority site and posted onto the niche site, I would 301 redirect the original URL towards the new post on the niche site. That way you pass all the same link juice you’ve built up to that page to the new site.

      Unlikely to have any kind of penalization from that kind of method. My main question here would be why break down the authority site? I’m much more in favor of going with large authority sites over smaller niche sites, where the niche site aspect just becomes another category on the authority site.

      Over time, your authority site authority will start ranking for a bunch of keywords far easier than new niche sites where you have to do the whole backlinking process over and over again.

      Just my two cents 🙂

      You could still build niche sites modeled off your content on the authority site, that way you can possibly score 2+ positions in the SERPs with different sites that have different branding to try and convert as much of that traffic as possible into customers

  • Aeron says:

    I always wonder whether to have all eggs in one basket. Of late I have started individual niche sites. They are more time consuming but somewhat safer I feel. If you encounter problem with one, the is safe. But having everything in one may be a bit risky. I am talking about amazon niches.

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Aeron,

      Everyone’s preference is a bit different on this subject. Personally, I prefer authority sites for a few reasons:

      1. You can create a powerful brand in a big niche that covers EVERYTHING
      2. You can start them off as a niche site (for instance, a kitchen site might start off as purely a baking niche site then slowly expand into other kitchen related categories)
      3. As your domain gains authority, you’ll start ranking for other keywords way easier than a single small niche site could
      4. The opportunity to add more revenue streams expands with an authority site over a small niche site. When you have a big authority site, you can start earning significant money from media ad displays like Adsense, or Adthrive etc. You could also expand by creating digital/info products, or by using your Amazon affiliate dashboard to see what kind of products your audience is buying and then source that product yourself so you can double dip on both affiliate earnings when they click your link, and the margin you make when they buy your physical product.
      5. Ultimately, you can build a site that on average is going to be worth way more when you eventually sell the business. It is totally possible to get a small niche site into the 7-figure range, but it is far more difficult for a niche site to turn into a multiple 7-figure or even 8-figure asset. Versus authority sites it can be expanded that far.

      Ultimately, it’s up to you and the process you have that works for you. For me, I prefer authority sites. I also like to have a bit of a mindset shift where I don’t call my authority site an authority site. Instead, I look at the site as a little media company. When you identify your site as a media company instead, you will start thinking and making very different decisions that will ultimately make it more profitable (usually)

      Hope this helped Aeron!

  • F H Rabbi says:

    i want to know that which is best niche site or authority site in 2018.. if i make a site in where i will publish content for 50-100 different types of key words and 100 which keyword K/D is 10-20 or 50 niche site for 100 keyword which si best just for amazon affiliate …reply please

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Rabbi,

      The best answer in my opinion is going after a passionate niche that has a ton of different products to sell. The best authority sites usually target broader niches in general (i.e instead of camping lanterns, your authority site covers the entirety of camping itself). These niches will start off slower than smaller more focused niche sites, but over time they will earn a lot more.

  • raja babu says:

    Great Article nice tips and tricks

  • kathir says:

    Awesome debate i learned great tips. i think amazon affiliate niche is great and i am thinking to try it.. but i found difficulty in choosing niche.

  • Junior says:

    I also agree that build authority sites brings more long-term return and is a great way to gain more credibility and authority in the niche.

    Very good I am following your blog and learning a lot about creating niche sites profitable, currently I’m building still mini sites in various types of profitable micronichos and have used some tools for searching for key words, one of the things that invest time in finding profitable niches is and I make sure I can get the ranking for them. Very good your post, complete and I helped get several questions on the subject.

    I intend to also start investing in some local authority projects for the medium and long term have better results.

  • Atinder says:

    Well, In the past years, when there was only limited competition, it was easy to build an authority website with good quality content, but these days, it has become a hell lot of difficult. So, if we really want to build an authority site these days, we need to do perform many extraordinary steps and first of all, will be writing unique content, not only the unique article, but with unique idea, which can attract audience. And then, the content marketing via social media, Bookmarking and Via Guest Blogging. I feel these three methods are the best to market our content. Now, with these methods, trust will start flowing to our websites as well as some natural backlinks and if we keep repeating these steps for a long period of time, then there is chance that, we can create an authority website.

    This is my personal thinking. What you say about this?

  • Undergroundman says:

    Great debate! I’m working on figuring out if I want to do niche or authority. I’ve tried 2 niche sites before that were dead as dead could be. And I’ve messed around with Kindle, only losing money with both those ventures. But I want to try out making niche sites (or authority, I’m conflicted!) and see if I can’t make it work this time, because I need it to work. Thanks for such a great post.

  • Glenn says:

    Great article. You can always have both strategies working for you. Although you will need a bit of capital to start of with, once you have the outsourcing model perfected, you can have a team focusing on niche sites and the other on authority. Earn money from Niche, Authority and flipping sites.

  • Dev Mohan says:

    hey I wanted my comment in on this …. it is so important to me…..I am a newbie to internet marketing first ,and I think what I am going to say is relevant to a lot of people…here it is ….suppose I want to make money on the internet , right …..I know I can do this with a website ,ok. next I go and buy a website something I think is good and its my hobby , fine …since I am a newbie I can’t do much research about what domain name to buy , like proper niche research , fine. ok next I have to develop this site further into something like an authority site but I have just started just now . BUT here is a problem I can’t understand why I can’t focus on the adsense ads for my earnings ..I think they are very good and they are from advertisers which are sort of approved by google so those advertisers have a lot of credibility ….they are not advertising fake products or services , or are they??? or the products are of low quality —will you need to read a review before you buy any of that product always ?? I read blogs about people making money with adsense ….are they all niche sites???? or it is that they are authority sites using adsense …which of the 2 ???… both use adsense ..

    is any body gonna help me with this

    I think my problem is how do you succeed with adsense and why is it somewhat rejected by people ….I mean it should work shouldn’t it ????


    david from

  • dave says:

    Great article, it reinforces my belief in building an authority site. I’ve been working on my site for over 7 months now,, and I am beginning to see some increase in visitor counts.
    I got to this article because I was interested in knowing if more detailed articles on a site generate more visitation. Any chance you guys know?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Dave,

      Detailed articles are likely to bring you more search engine traffic. Fully filling out your content (with graphs, tables, helpful info, etc.) is likely to get that content shared, tweeted, etc…bringing you even more visitors. It’s a balance between how much time you spend on creating it, though…

  • Awesome post. Authority sites give better returns in the long run.

  • Rachel Salmon says:

    Hello IM Gurus,

    This is Rachel from India – A Beginner IMer.

    Let’s laid my scenario first:

    – I cannot apply for Adsense before my site is at least 6 months old.
    – I am sure can work with SEO part, including keyword research.
    – SMM is new to me but I am really adapting quickly.
    – Building a list will take time, I know that.
    – I can invest around $200$ initially and 20-25 monthly, excluding hosting. I already have shared hosting with multiple domains allowed.

    Now, I am on verge to select a roadmap to earn at least 500-600$ after an year from blogging and IM.

    I have spent nights researching the segment and feel this it the best post I found to decide what i can do. However, Gurus answers are always welcomed.

    I mean I would highly appreciate if few of you can guide me on starting my journey.

    I know internet is not get-rich-quick scheme and ready to work 10 hours a day.

    Pardon me if it’s too long or I am asking for too much.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  • Rachel Salmon says:

    MIke: “Niche sites cost me about $30 each
    to make. I make about 100 of them a month at a cost of $3000 and I
    expect these 100 sites to make (in total) a minimum of $10/day in
    three-months time (a very low and pessimistic estimate). Assuming that I
    don’t sell any of these sites for a quick profit, I will make my
    investment back in a little over a year. Is that a bad investment?”

    Can you please elaborate on this? I am really interested.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Rachel,

      It was Mike’s statement…but I’m pretty sure he was saying this:

      100 sites will (pessimistically) make him no less than $10/day or $300/month.

      • Rachel Salmon says:

        Hey Justin,

        Thanks for quick response.

        However, Confusion is not about calculation, but about the process. How it’s possible to get any traffic @ $30 for a site. Website creation and content creation will be that much I think. How to get traffic then.

        Thanks in advance.

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Hey Rachel,

          I’m guessing the cost accounts for actual spend (domain, content, etc.) and not the time he put into the site. I’m not sure what Mike was doing at the time, but he was likely either building out a few links himself (time) or not linking to the sites at all.

          You have to remember that these types of niche sites are targeting fairly low-end keywords. They don’t get a ton of searches and so some of the larger sites won’t even bother with them. Still…if your site’s getting 400 pageviews/month for the primary + longtails and has a 5% CTR (for example) you’re looking at 20 clicks. At $0.30 per click, that would be a $6/month site.

  • Since micro sites only have a few pages only, they don’t normally have the complete information for you inquiry. That being said, you’d have to look for the answer to your inquiry on other sites compelling you to do further research.

  • Melody Hill says:

    This is really great content. I’ve recently been mulling over niche vs. authority sites and I’m still up in the air but the argument laid out here is very helpful.

  • Yakezie says:

    Is it fair to say as of 11/14/12 that authority sites win, and big time authority sites really win?

    Good debate though!


  • Chris says:

    Awesome debate guys! Thanks for the time you put into it.

    I have a question aimed at niche site guys. When you register your micro-niche domains, do you only register for one year or two? I remember reading somewhere that registering for longer than a year helps you rank since it is less likely that you will abandon the site early (or something like that.)

    Does this really have any effect at all? I’ve been registering for two years but think I may just be wasting money.

  • ziko ziko55 says:


  • I also subscribe to the idea of doing both. You never know which niche site could blossom into an authority site. Or building authority sites about building niche sites like so many of you have had success with.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this debate and look forward to reading more from all of you.

    • Thanks for stopping by Matthew. It’s a close one, but I still say niche sites are the way to. Why not sell off the winners and let someone else build them out? This will give upside to your customer and give you a reputation of someone who builds quality sites. Plus you’ll have money in your pocket to build more sites.

  • I am thinking if you are going to invest time, money, and resources into building a site, you definitely want the fruits of your labor to be around for the long haul and long term success, my opinion would be to focus on creating an authority site. Give it several years, what’s hot or trending now can definitely change with time and where will your site be then. Sustainability is an Important part of the vision!

    Crystal Watts

    • Interesting Crystal, I understand where you are coming from, but disagree. I would rather have my risk spread over several sites while being able to flip smaller sites to customer with upside potential. Without developing a new product or service, authority sites have the same inherit risk as niche sites, IMO. So why not just have more niche sites?

    • My_Opinion_Counts says:

      “give it several years, whats hot or trending now can definitely change with time”

      You dont know when this change will take place. Several years could be, 1,3 7 years!

  • Better yet, create niche sites under an authority site umbrella.

    Categorize/silo your niche topics tight enough but still put it under a broader authority topic.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      A friend of ours was doing something like this. He was creating niche sites that acted as feeder sites to his authority site. He ultimately stopped working on the project in favor of others, but that’s not to say the idea itself was necessarily bad.

  • Dave says:

    If your business model is site flipping wouldn’t niche sites be the better option. Say you create a site by buying an age ranked domain and adding quality content as well as quality backlinks. As traffic rolls in and site starts making money in say 2-3 months you can sell it and not have to worry about having to add more content or backlinks. The buyer if they choose can turn it into a authority site.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Dave,

      It usually takes 3-4 months (on average…all sites are different) for niche sites to hit their stride…and we usually take another month or two for them to stabilize before selling. That puts us at 4-6 months from site creation to sale…sometimes a bit longer than that.

      Still, your point that you can flip niche sites faster than you can authority sites is valid and definitely something we’ve discussed. Ultimately, it comes down to ROI, right?

      Example 1: We spend $400 building out 10 niche sites and flip them in 6 months for $2,000. We reinvest that into more niche sites and flip those in 6 months for a total now of $10,000.

      Example 2: We spend $400 building out 1 authority site, get it up to $600/month over 12 months and then flip for $12,000.

      Example 2 seems to be the better option there…it just depends on how quickly you can get the sites earning, how much they ultimately earn, and the multiple at which you can flip them.

  • Well…as someone that does BOTH models…I have to say, either IS in fact a business. And in fact, both can be a hobby. The difference between a hobby and a business is that with a business there is an intent to make money. Thereby one could have an authority site without monetizing it, or without turning a profit, and the reality is by “just covering the costs” it is still a hobby. Likewise, if I had 100 niche sites and I never turned a profit…I don’t have a business either.

    To me, owning both authority and niche sites (I actually known Mike and he helped me get started), an authority site is a lot of work. You are building a BRAND. That is slow and painful at times. And yet, building a portfolio of niche sites takes times, it is a bit more science than it is art (authority sites are art). It is easier and therefore faster to repeat science than it is art.

    I do both. Right this moment, niche sites are making more money than my authority sites for me.

    Jason Ansley
    Building Generous Business

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Jason…thanks for the comment!

      I see that you’ve been working with Mike as a niche site coach…that’s great to hear! He’s doing quite well and it’s great to see him pass his experience on to others looking to do the same thing. Please do keep us informed about your progress…we’ll watch with interest!

  • Alex Bastian says:

    I think authority sites are the way to go. I don’t have anything against micro niche sites that are done well but how many that are built by those that scale the process and build 100s of them truly add value to the internet? I’ve actually bought a couple of niche sites (not from the flippers so can’t comment on those – I’d like to but they’re always sold out!) from reputable members in the community and while the customer service was great and everything was delivered as promised I still feel a bit guilty about the content of these sites. I feel that true ‘experts’ that have niche sites or blogs but are not into internet marketing are being lost and it’s a real shame. Do I want to be a part of that? I know we’re all just trying to make a living but it’s seriously making me doubt whether I want to continue on my niche site quest…

    • I think the value to the internet could be debated. Certainly we are not changing the world here, but we do provide content where there is a gap — between what users are searching for and what companies want to advertise for. In the same way that billboard companies don’t “add much value to the world” we still provide a needed part of the commercial advertising process.

      • JustinWCooke says:

        I agree with Joe’s “content gap” comment. I like his point about the billboards, but I’ve been thinking about it and I think there’s a slight difference. A billboard is push advertising…I come across it when I’m not really looking for anything and it’s easy to ignore. With niche site advertising, most visitors are ACTUALLY looking for something and then they’re hit with adverts. On the one hand, if we have advertisers offering what they’re looking for that should make everyone happy, but I can understand a bit of frustration there too from a user’s perspective.

        Ultimately, I think it’s important to try to deliver on whatever the searcher’s intent is. That can be through a direct product offer, advertising, etc…but the goal should be to help them get what they’re looking for. We don’t always accomplish this with each site or in each niche, but this is what we strive for.

  • Hi Guys

    A useful exchange of ideas no doubt. With plenty of follow up comments many with great insights.For me I think premise of the debate is slight off. I don’t believe there is a one is better than the other answer. It felt like a politcial debate with each side taking a position which is fine but none the less missed the middle ground.

    Back to car analogies (as per a thread before) No one car fits all purposes, off road, high performance, family etc. So to it is with sites, micro niche, niche, authority, eCommerce etc.

    My issue with “authority sites” (after all are they really the authority on the subject or just have lots of words/pages/link) the cost to build a real site is high in both man hours and $. You need a lot of content developed over time and you need a following.

    But the real issue is lack of scalability and automation. the 4 hour work week has a lot to answer for but one of the highlights is the benefits of developing a system and rinse repeat. Simply not possible with authority sites.

    Sure with niche sites there are a lot of sites that never work and sites that subsequently fail. However both spencer at nichepursuits and our hosts here have shown that systems and scale can make for a Business. A few sites is not a business.


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Steve,

      I think you’re right in that there are success stories on both sides so neither can be pointed to as the “only” path. I like one of the comments below that talks about the difference being a Creative Vs. Process approach and that you should pick the one that appeals to you. It also seems reasonable to have your (profitable) niche sites fund your longer-term authority site creation. Even with this, though, you’ll see in the comments that both us and Mike were down around 10K before we started to turn it around with niche sites!

      I have very few examples of this, but there ARE those who were able to scale out “Authority” sites on a pretty massive scale. The degree of difficulty seems to be MUCH higher there, but the rewards are significant, obviously. I think there are very few people that have done this effectively because of this…

      • Hi Justin,

        I saw those comments. I guess im firmly in the process camp as My working career were in process engineering and people management in a micro electronics environments. So its second nature to develop process’s and scale.

        I always envisaged a process where some sites would scale or fund bigger projects maybe a software application that is a complete end to end micro site builder rather than authority sites as that’s also something i know a lot about.

        Authority sites are more difficult for the exact opposite reasons micro niche sites are easy when you find the gap.

  • Somebody mentioned you guys should have an audio version of this debate, I think it would be super interesting to have you both on a live debate as well.

    Definitely many great points were made and I just want to thank you both for the food for thought, definitely an awesome job.


  • epic debate! No clear winner I would have to say both guys made some great points here in this post.

  • Ralph Kooi says:

    No matter where you are on the internet If you Google doesn’t like you, your site is gone. Difference is with a niche site, it can either be 1 site (out of 100) which is 1% of your revenue or all your sites. The risk here is more spread out, but so is the payday.

    An authority site would attract more traffic just because of the size of the website. It just has more keywords it can be found on. But it is much more stable when Google rolls out a new update.

    It takes a lot of time to build one.. I know… my own running site ( ) has nearly 100 posts and is attracting 70 people a day for a few months now. But the monetization of it is painfully slow.

    On the other hand some of my (ugly) adsense sites is producing 25 dollars a month and only has 9 posts and 5 pages. .. But very depended on what Google had to say / do. But these days my niche sites are at least 15 – 20 posts just to become more relevant about the topic and provide a decent amount of value. Also it lowers the risk of Google slapping the shiznit out of it…

    Another niche site ( ) of mine has also 50 people a day and a fan-base of over 1000 on facebook but money isn’t consistent. The CPC is terrible so I took that off and just rely on that sporadic sale via clickbank (nearly $150 dollars in total). And this is just pure SEO traffic.
    With Penguin this got hit hard… I had 100 people a day (and 2 other sites) and it was gone overnight. Even though I had the “social proof / engagement” that Google wanted…

    But I agree that you must like the topic if you are doing things yourself, else it would be a terrible job to do. I like running and therefore write about it and record the occasional video.

    My Advice, especially for beginners, just start with something you enjoy writing about and see what happens. If you like the topic you will write more and more and it will be come an authority site by itself. If not, you have created your first niche site..

    Sorry it was a bit long and apologies if people don’t like the links but I just want to showcase the difference in both sites.


    • Hey Ralph,

      Glad to see a fellow runner on this debate. For the running site; I would check out: . Jason has a pretty good handle on how to monetize a running related authority site. He’s even got a few products he’s put together.

      Anyway, I definitely like the advice about starting with what you enjoy. Ultimately this is what will get you through those periods when you’re simply not in the mood to do work.


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Ralph,

      Sorry to hear about the slow-going on the sites you listed above. I checked out the running site…it doesn’t look like you’re aggressively monetizing the site. That’s probably fine as I’m guessing you’re looking to build up the traffic and reader base first.

      It seems like to me that an authority site is a longer-shot when considering the odds, but the payout is better when one hits. I’ve liked the comments about using the niche sites (better odds, lower payout) to fund your authority sites until you get a couple of winners under your belt. That seems like good advice…

      • Ralph Kooi says:

        Thanks Justin for the reply. Its an interesting debate but will see what happens. I Actually just bought one of Mike’s sites and will see where that takes me 🙂 (made 2 dollars yesterday haha)

    • Alex Bastian says:

      Ralph, am living your running site. I want to do something similar in a niche I am passionate about. I would love to thrive on authority sites but as you say you can put a lot of time and effort into one of these only to find that it’s not profitable. Is a better idea to start say a selection of micro niche sites and then build out the ones that start making money? That would do 2 things:

      1. Spread risk – only continue on those that are actually profitable niches
      2. Add value to the internet – by building on the micro niche sites that are making a little bit of money and adding more valuable content will add true value to the community. You can then also monetize in different ways in addition to Adsense.

      • Ralph Kooi says:

        Hey Alex, Thanks for the reply

        I do learn a lot through my running site. The writing part, making video’s etc. But also I have just been too unfocused (lazy) to transform the site in a more money making way.
        I.e. reviewing running courses
        ebook (which I have a PLR for and just need to freaking put up)
        more aggressive collection of emails through i.e. welcomesplash

        But what is your risk?
        In essence, I have a full time job so the risk of one failing isn’t that bad. Just losing some money but that will be that.

        Niches can come and go, for whatever reason. The majority of my sites are doing well (breaking even and more) so I’m not to worries about that.

        I would start with building your authority site as that is something you enjoy. (And ask yourself, have you done all you can do to monetize it?)
        If you do this, you probably come across certain topics that are a sidestep of your authority site and can be developed as a niche site. Which is also something you sort of like writing about anyway.

        That way you start spreading your sites into something you enjoy more and more and become better at it. The better you get the less important “passion for the topic” becomes as you have build a range of sites that (presumably) work and make money.

        Pat Flynn had a certain roadmap for this to determine his nichesite. His training guard hq adsense site was based on that his mother is / was a security guard. So he had an affiliation with the topic.. is a post on how he created his mindmap (this is one of my affiliate sites so link on this site are affiliate links)

  • Josh says:

    No one makes Amazon Niche sites any more? I know it wouldn’t solve the main issue with niche sites but it would help.

    • I know some people are still making niche sites. Some pretty successfully. I tried my hand at it; but was frustrated when most of them got hit hard by the Penguin update. That’s what ultimately led me to my decision to focus 100% on authority sites.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey, Josh…

      Lol…Joe and I were JUST starting to test out Amazon last year when they cut the program for CA corporations! They’ve since reinstated, but we never went back to testing through it and stuck with AdSense instead.

      I know that Chris Guthrie has done quite well with Amazon sites, but he typically builds “authority” sites as far as I know…

    • Hi they(we) do, the problem is the ultimate CTR to payout is terrible. You have the ctr from the serps then from your site to amazon and then still they have to buy on amazon and then you get 4-8 percent etc

      Where as with adsense we miss out the last two steps.

      Worse still for us international people (i.e. outside the USA) they send you a cheque!! yep paper my bank then charges me about 15% of the value to bank it!!

      having said that when you “sell” a $4,000 camera and a $6000 lens then income is rather nice :-0 and that was form a site of mine about baby boxing gloves go figure.

  • Spencer Haws says:

    Love the debate! Personally, I think either model can be made into a successful business. Some people will gravitate towards one or the other depending on personality, skill level (at certain things), and interest.

    Overall, the business model is actually very similar – content publishing. Both niche site builders and authority site creators are content publishers and are therefore both subject to almost the exact same risks. Yes, there are differences which Steve and Mike have pointed out – but when it comes down to it they really are very similar.

    I will mention that Steve used the fact that my Adsense account was banned as an argument against niche sites. He stated that my revenue was GONE. Not true, I still earn quite well with niche sites. (I will be discussing more on my blog in the future). Either way, Adsense accounts can be banned whether you have an “authority site” or a niche site – the risk is exactly the same. (Lots of people will large sites have had their adsense accounts banned).
    Overall, great post guys! Enjoyed it….

    • Hey Spencer,

      Thanks for the clarification. It’s actually good to hear that you’re still chugging along; profiting from your niche sites.

      The one thing I would say is I see TONS of people building niche sites with Adsense and relying 100% on this income. To me, it’s really risky to put all your eggs in one basket.

      For me, I would never use Adsense on an Authority site. It’s much more profitable to promote affiliate products and sell your own stuff.

      Anyway…thanks again for responding back.


      • Hi Steve

        I have a lot to disagree with you about your positioning statements.

        I would agree that an authority site should have a better monetization option than adsense. However have you seen fraser cain’s site (you can hear an interview on spencers site.Its all he uses. for a 5 figure (i think) monthly income.

        I get your not happy with niche sites that’s fine. But i see plenty of people making 5 figures a month with adsense. I see adsenseflippers still making sites and selling at 20x

        If your simply arguing that niche sites are high risk. They are nearly everybody playing this game got hit with the panda 3.5 and penquin updates. But the cost to build each one is very low if done correctly.

        Enjoyed your inputs to the debate just would like to see both sides represented evenly 🙂

    • Yea although your adsense took a hit, you were still generating traffic – and that’s the most important factor. Did you find out what kind of ads generate the most income for your traffic yet? We’ve been playing around a little bit this month and we’re starting to test some other things – the ads we’re testing are very niche specific though.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Spencer!

      We’re definitely all publishers no matter which side you gravitate to or focus on. I think Pat’s site is a good example of an authority site (especially as he expands it even further) and somewhere between our sites and your typical sites would be in the niche site range.

      I really wonder about the “middle ground” between the two. Honestly, I think that’s NOT a good place to be. IMO, you’re better off trying to niche down heavily and be laser targeted or trying to attract repeat visitors. Somewhere in the middle and you don’t have the laser-focus to make it worth it as a niche site and the content isn’t strong enough to get visitors coming back.

      Nobody can say for sure, but I don’t think it’s likely your AdSense account was banned because of having niche sites. There are plenty of others that are chugging along just fine. (People that don’t blog about it included!) I’m really interested to see an update on how your monetization tests are going. Good or bad, we’ll all learn quite a bit, I think…

  • Great debate and strong points from both sides 🙂

    I’ve had an authority site for a while although it’s become a bit neglected not least as is not in a profitable niche. However, hoping to redevelop it soon and bring in some related products that are very commercial – hopefully we’ll be able to lever from the site’s authority in the niche its in.

    Between this and reading your adsense flopping guide (and looking at Mike’s site) I’ve found some new enthusiasm for building some more niche sites after a shaky dabbling start 🙂

    I haven’t read all of the empire building guide yet so the answer might be there but I wonder how much you think you need to start off building a collection of niche sites? It’s fine saying they can be built for around $40 each but if you set out to build say 10 – 20 per week that adds up pretty quick! I know it becomes self sustaining after a while but initially you might need a pretty big pool of disposable income to keep banging them out at that rate?


    • Tough to say Andrew, but we were $10k in before we started turning a profit, so that’s a lot of sites indeed!

      • Ouch! Might have to take it a bit steadier than that and go with a reinvestment plan over a longer period … 😉

        • I was also about $10k in before I started seeing a profit.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Wow, Mike…

            You were down 10K too, eh? I know you just recently turned the corner (May, right?)

            I was a bit surprised to hear that our initial costs are so similar, actually. I thought maybe it was just us…making mistakes early on that cost us more than they should.

          • @Justin I was making money, but in order to really see some profits I kept investing and investing. I was originally only investing the small profits I was seeing every month, but then after a comment you made on my blog I ramped it up…thanks 🙂

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Hey Mike…

            I remember that comment! 🙂 That was big turning point for us and thought I’d share…really glad it’s working out for you! I was actually ok investing MORE into what we were doing, but Joe wasn’t having it which is why we ended up scaling through sales…

    • Sounds like a good plan. But I definitely would spend some time working on building up that authority site – With the caveat that you’re able to make sure it’s profitable.

  • Dave-Rose says:

    I started my online business by specifically creating an authority site. At first I had no idea that it was an authority site but here is my take on the debate.

    Authority sites take much longer to make them profitable; but this is usually coined in with the fact that the website owner is incredibly passionate and dedicated to his topic of choice.

    It’s all about growth for me, I realise it will take an exceedingly long amount of time before I make a decent living from it – but I love the topic so much that I don’t really care how long it takes. I have a plan mainly starting with video marketing and other forms of social media and will then create a membership site that will run alongside with the authority site so I’m quite happy that I have made this choice.

    People may shoot me down for this but I don’t really see the attraction to making 100’s of websites that have no real ‘active’ owner. From a customer’s point of view unless the niche site is still high quality.. or answers my query, then I wouldn’t buy from it.

    All in all; both methods are good it just depends on where your interests lie. If you have a lot of knowledge and passion for a particular subject, then go make an authority site. If you are the type of person that loves to solve a problem from a variety of different niches, then go make a niche-site… or you can combine both of them. I just prefer authority sites personally. 🙂 Good debate though.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Dave!

      Your point about the passion/interest Vs. method/process when it comes to this debate is sound, I think. Focusing on the side of the business that holds the most draw for you and best utilizes your skillsets seems like a smart move as another comment mentioned.

      I think that if you have something else paying the bills, focusing on a passion project or authority site is completely reasonable. I spend a TON of time on THIS site as it’s something I enjoy…a “passion project” for me. It’s good that it relates to our core business for niche sites as well.

      I think that’s a point that’s not often made. When you decide to head in another direction, it’s REALLY helpful if it’s a spin-off from your core business or if you can somehow leverage what you’re doing in one to support the other. We’ll leverage AF for our theme, Niche Site Gold, etc. as they’re fairly closely related and give us a head start over someone just starting off…

  • I definitely think authority sites are the way to go. Some great points were brought up in this debate (what a great idea btw – I do think it would be better in audio format though like a few others mentioned). One thing that really stuck out for me though was the risk of niche sites. Steve pointed out that Spencer Haws’ AdSense account was banned and because of that, a large percentage of his revenue from niche sites was wiped out. However, Mike’s response of “his account could have been banned for anything” didn’t really have anything to do with the point IMO. It really doesn’t matter WHY his account got banned (as we most likely will never know) it just matters what the RESULT of it is – a major loss of income. However, this wouldn’t be as horrible of a thing with authority sites.

    Great debate though – definitely respect both these guys’ opinions and it was a lot of fun to read!


    • Thomas,

      Thanks for commenting. My response had everything to do with the point because whether you are making money with authority sites or niche sites with Adsense your account can get banned. My point is that you shouldn’t be scared of making niche sites because you think your Adsense account will get banned for it, therefore there is no proven correlation between canceled Adsense accounts and niche sites.

      But you are right, the end result is income lost. However, if you still have the traffic you should be able to monitize both authority and niche sites after your Adsense account is banned. “Life after Adsense” can be tough, though 🙁

      Thanks for your comment, Thomas. You keep me on my toes 🙂

      • JustinWCooke says:

        Hey Mike,

        I think you can definitely monetize your sites differently and recover some of your revenue (and earn even MORE in some cases) but I do think that’s easier done with an authority site or just LESS sites overall. If we had to go through and re-monetize all of our niche sites that would be a HUGE undertaking…and not one that could be done with our agents currently…it would have to be done by us…ugh.

        • Scary thought Justin.

          I just read your post on Adsense Alternatives. It’s good to see y’all have an emergency plan. I imagine it’s not a fun thought; but it’s always good to plan for a worst case scenario.

      • Yeah Mike, I would definitely agree that you should never a let a “fear of getting banned” prevent you from going after something.

        I did check out Spenser’s post and the one on AdsenseFlippers about alternatives to Google Adsense. It’s good to see that there are a few things a marketer can do in case Google takes a drastic action against your business.

        IMHO, I would hate to have a large portion of my income controlled by entity who has proven that they really don’t care about their business partners.

      • Hey Mike – Your absolutely right that your AdSense account could get banned whether you’re using it on niche sites or authority sites. Maybe it’s just my experience of getting banned after only using it on niche sites that is making me say that, since I still think I never broke the TOS 🙂

        But like you said, the end result is income lost. I personally think that it would be a lot easier to recover and make up for lost AdSense income with just 1-2 authority sites rather than hundreds of niche sites.

        You both did a great job debating this! Very informative and entertaining 🙂 Thanks Justin & Joe for setting this up!

    • Good to see you on here Thomas! I see your name popping up everywhere 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      There’s a Text-To-Speech audio version available here:

  • btbuzz says:

    I guess the lesson here is to do both, Though when talking about micro niches
    it still seems to have that vibe they need to be cheap and butt ugly, like a trailer built in Alabama on the tornado alley way. At prices at 30 bucks a pop to build he must be outsourcing to a Zulu tribe in deep congo for content.
    Here’s one site I will try to make a Authority site, since I’m a songwriter basically and is my forte so why not build on a passion. It’s not done yet still a work in progress.

    Then we will build a bunch micro niches , but they won’t look like a bullfrog with acne. It seems like there’s still room for both, But attracting customers right now is like trying to sell the Talaban a magazin subscription to ” Good Housekeeping ”
    Great article , enjoyed it .

    • Not a Zulu tribe 🙂

      I have all my content written for me by native English speakers. Most of my sites also get a custom-made header.

      I’m able to cut down the costs so much because I build them in bulk. If you were to do the same process for just a couple of sites it would cost you more.

      • btbuzz says:

        Right native speaking english speakers , I love that term. Right you use the same theme over and over again .maybe you switch up on baby themes to counter balance a a lot looking the same like green pintos in the 70ties. Ive read your blogs you seem successful in your field.

      • Yeah, I do have to admit that the $30 price point makes it an easier pill to swallow in case something happens to this site. Moreover it’s easier to “throw s*** against a wall and see what sticks.”

        My question: Do you spend the $30 as a baseline and THEN reinvest more money if you start to see it gain traction?

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Interesting site, Ben. Be sure to check back in and let us know how it’s going!

      • ben says:

        Yeah sure , I’m in Cebu now , staying here for who knows how long. Though selling music is tuff biz , I’m hoping on reaching to songwriters since I’ve been a songwriter for along time. Will have to work angles on it , any suggestions I’m all ears.. Id move to Davo but i don’t look good in a turbane , I’m kidding . , see ya

  • RaxBundalian says:

    I think the key point is – “BALANCE between good heart, righteous mind & happy wallet.” 😉

  • JamesInJapan says:

    Great Post, debate and exposition of the
    concepts. I think the key underlying point for me is the relying-on-Google

    Within my first month online, about a year ago, I got my Adwords account
    banned. I was doing nothing black or grey hat, was following simple steps
    outlined in a plan by a successful web entrepreneur (John Jonas), and simply
    trying out ppc. I had literally 1 or 2 small campaigns going. I got a message
    saying that I had REPEATEDLY violated Google’s terms and would be banned from
    Adwords. (repeatedly!?). I was in disbelief, as I had not even gotten a
    warning, of any kind, was a brand new advertiser, and was doing every thing
    possible to do things by the rules. No history of websites, spam creation,

    I wrote in, trying to get at least an acknowledgement that they may have
    flagged me in error, or -jeez, at least give someone a warning to modify
    something before banning them, but as you can guess, no response was

    The moral of the story for me is-How can you trust an entity (businesswise) who
    is not only all-powerful in terms of your internet search presence but also
    offers no recourse if they punish you in error? Since this event, I lost trust
    in Google, and think that there is a Russian Roulette feel to profiting from
    their services.

    I still am doing some Adsense, but any opportunity to limit dependence on
    Google is highly coveted.

    James in Japan

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, James!

      A good warning here for others: Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s ok. Should read the Terms Of Service yourself to make sure what you’re doing is under their guidelines.

      Google’s a pretty large company. You can HATE AdWords and still LOVE Android, if that makes sense. Similar in effect to me going to Sacramento, having a really bad experience with a couple of people, and warning others that people in Sacramento are ____.

    • James –

      I had the same experience with Adwords (twice.)

      But, I’d have to agree with Justin. I love Google as a search engine. And I’m a big fan of Gmail. Overall, I don’t agree with their policies when it comes to hammering people and giving no explanation.

  • Jason says:

    You should do an audio version, even if it’s not a live debate. Everyone could record their thoughts individually and splice them together.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Jason…that’s an excellent idea! Maybe we’ll have to work something like that out for a future podcast episode. That does sound awesome, eh?

      • That would be cool with me 🙂 Or I’d love to hear you do a similar theme with other Internet marketers. I love podcasts that bring in people with conflicting viewpoints on topics. Makes things interesting.

  • RaxBundalian says:

    I just so love this “Battle of the Internet Minds” kind of discussion… Very entertaining and educational! Well done Justin & Joe. Cheers. See you at the poolbar after my yoga class! 😉

  • From my perspective, I see two major issues with authority sites.

    The first is that it seems a little more difficult to test the market. If I just start one site and put up 50 articles on it, I may end up with a dud on my hands despite my best efforts. I’ve made some niche sites that after doing keyword research looked great, but either proved very difficult to rank, had low CTR/CPC, etc.

    The second is that it’s a lot more difficult to pick a topic that interests me AND is a good profitable niche, I’m much more interested in the systems perspective. I guess.

    Reading the article on you plan to standardize and scale authority sites ( really inspired me to move in that direction. I think it’s possible to take some of the advantages of both nice sites and authority sites and combine them into one. It’s not necessarily a best of both worlds perspective, but you can mitigate a major risk of niche sites (google doesn’t like thing content) and a major risk of authority sites (it’s hard to test a market without committing a lot of resources).

    Edit: I also think larger authority style sites make it easier to move from just making sites into doing some more partenrship/consulting work. That’s something I enjoy so I’d be willing to sacrifice a little in order to do it.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Taylor,

      Moving up the value chain definitely has its appeal, though. What if we were able to produce true individual businesses at scale? (2K – 4K/month product/advertising/dropshipping sites?) That would be pretty slick too, right?

      We’re quite far from there, but with the right formula I know it can be done. There were these two guys (somewhere in Europe I think?) that did something like that and built like a 9-figure business out of it. I don’t know where I put the link, but they were featured on Yahoo not that long ago…

      • That would be pretty incredible. I think one of the main advantage coming at that from you guys’ perspective is how focused on process and systems you have to be. Obviously the systems involved in a 2k/month site are more complex, but how easy would it be to sell a site that was pre-built with all those systems to automate it?

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Our problem is figuring out a way to get from here to there…

          I think we’ll have to do it in baby steps. Moving to the next phase would be creating sites that earn $50-$100/month on average, I think…and then adjusting from there again. With that kind of average, we’d have sites in the $500/month-ish range at the high end…and then it would be just figuring out a way to scale it from there.

          It’s been done by others so it’s not new…but the further up the value chain you go, the more difficult it gets…which is why most don’t do it, hehe.

    • Taylor-

      You’re definitely right. It’s dangerous to spend a lot of time on an authority site and not see an immediate result.

      That’s why I HIGHLY recommend you spend a lot of time in the research phase:

      1) Find a market where people are spending money
      2) Find a way to “Brand” yourself into a tightly focused topic
      3) Find products that provide value while earning a significant amount of money per sale.

      The consulting thing is a great idea. It’s something that I personally don’t enjoy. But many folks have used their “authority” to build a rock-solid consulting biz.

  • Just wanted to publicly thank both Steve and Mike for this. The debate came out awesome — and as always thanks to the Captain for putting it together!

  • semir says:

    hey great post! i didnt read all the comments. so this might be repeated idea..
    my question for everybody is, Have you ever seen a great authority site that is not using google free traffic, or used google free traffic? i think most big content sites you see are popular because they are lucky enough to rank for some keywords on google. i think this relates to that other post…”in defence of google…” there is no way that your are going to build a big authority site by forum commenting or guest blogging or youtube videos…without googles free traffic….by big authorithy sites i mean like millionaire sites like universetoday,copyblogger,problogger etc.. i am sure most of thier audience came from google.

    • Semir – It is “sorta” possible to build an authority site without Google. I get a TON of traffic to my primary money maker from article syndication and YouTube. Yes, some of this traffic comes from Google ranking these articles. But you don’t necessarily have to *own* a site in order to benefit from Google.

      Also, I don’t really get much search engine traffic on my SteveScottSite blog. Instead, I’m focusing on traffic strategies like social media, Kindle publishing, guest posting, and eventually podcasting/YouTube.

      Bottom line is you *can* avoid the trap of becoming 100% depended on Google. The important thing is to remember is you have to be willing to work hard for these results

      • Like Steve said here, I also believe that you can generate an insane amount of traffic via social media. I know someone who knows absolutely nothing about SEO, but they know a lot of people – you know, the several thousand facebook friends kind of person. Well that person drove traffic to his site by using facebook, and then his content went viral on Reddit. He ended up getting thousands of visitor and new followers within a couple of days. Social Media is powerful…don’t underestimate it.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Semir,

      We built AdSense Flippers almost completely without targeting keywords. (A few exceptions…our AdSense Alternatives and Long Tail Pro Discount posts were targeted) What we’ve found is that, with long tail keywords, we can get ranked for things here extremely quickly…but I don’t like limiting the content that way.

      Still we get 30% percent of traffic from Google organic without even trying…would be quite a bit more if we targeted keywords more often.

  • Sheyi | says:

    This is insanely great!

    Where did you guys get this idea from?

    Mehn, you guys are just too good!

    For me, its authority site all the way!


  • Wow, this was intense, haha! I think both sides of the argument made really great points. I feel that building niche sites is a great entry into building authority sites properly, at least it’s been that way for me. By building the niche sites, I was able to get a better understanding of what Google likes on a variety of different avenues. I was also able to make money as I was learning.
    I like authority sites because they can be very powerful and profitable especially if it’s combined with something that many people are passionate about. It’s also easy to write articles when you’re passionate about something! I say, do both and get the best of both worlds!

    • Josh,

      I agree with you that niche sites are a great entry point for Internet marketers. You can really get your hands dirty learning how to build sites and get a process going.

      By the way, I like what you’re doing over there at wsotesters…nice work.


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Josh,

      Love what you guys are doing as well…it’s been fun following you along your journey!

  • Great-great article!

    I believe it’s a good idea to build both types of sites. I started with mini-niche sites and now I’m branching out to building more authoritative niche sites. I think it’s wise to use both tactics.

    Why not? You build mini sites for a quick profit and bigger sites for long term profit. Authority sites could take years to come profitable so it’s a good idea to have mini niche sites as well to keep the engines running.

    It’s a good idea to be profitable from day one. I have a nice amount of smaller niche sites that enable me to focus on more bigger sites that take more time.

    • I agree that building both of them can be profitable. You can use your money from niche sites to make authority sites that take longer to build and have a longer learning curve.

      • JustinWCooke says:

        Another option, I think, would be to continue to sell niche sites and “buy in” to larger, authority sites that are already established. You’re selling off multiple niche sites to buy larger authority sites and leveling up.

        Of course, buying sites comes with a whole new learning curve to make sure you understand proper due diligence, that you don’t get ripped off on larger purchases, etc.

      • I agree completely with this. Niche sites is a good way to start because you learn the mechanics and it’s fairly easy to get some small earners up, then once you master niche sites you can move on to starting your mother of all authority sites and just work on that whilst the niche sites create a nice little income stream.

        I do see Steve’s point earlier on with regards to juggling many websites, but honestly I think there are a few problems with the authority site model that leads me to believe its a good way to start.

        First there’s the problem of selecting what on earth to write about. Finding keywords with high CPC and a few thousand searches is an easy way to make those hyper targeted niche sites, but I cant exactly make an authority site on “blue ski boots for austrian skitrips”

        This will inevitably lead to the infamous passion debate, where people that do have certain passions try to convince those that don’t, that everyone has a passion.

        I have enough areas of interest that I could do various authority sites, but honestly the only TRUE passion I have now is internet marketing / online startup. I can’t make an authority site on knitting, or I could but it would be difficult and not only time consuming, but very costly also.

        I definitely want to have both, and due to the nature of authority sites those would be my focus. I already have my internet marketing blog, which I’m working a lot on and I’m working on starting an authority sites in either the sports betting or the poker industry.

        Those are huge, near impossible markets, but since I have an interest and knowledge in the topics I’m confident that I can build them up to great earners.

        ultimately though, which I also expressed on Twitter the discussion is a little impossible because I think the answer to the overall problem depends on way to many factors, like:

        What’s your experience? Is it really wise for complete beginners to just go create the ultimate resource in their niche from the get go?

        What’s your budget like? Although an authority site does have more content and uses more resources, the cost is kept very low. I mean you could easily start an authority website with $15 or something silly but with the cost of domains being fixed you definitely need a bigger budget to buy say 50 niche domains for smaller sites. Since you cannot use social traffic for the most part, you’d also need to invest in some kind of SEO tool or service so it’s definitely more expensive.

        And so on.

        I already dragged on too long, but I just want to put in the verdict:

        Start with ONE niche site. Make it good, make it rank and make it earn. Then once you have accomplished that, you can take the path of building either more of them or simply going for the authority model with the site or another if the niche is too small.

        Don’t ignore a model just based on opinion, try both and see what you think and have both if you damn please! 🙂

    • Sounds like a sound strategy. But, the one obstacle is getting sidetracked by trying to do too much.

      I’ve seen many budding marketers get burned out because they were juggling dozens of websites. It’s frustrating because I *know* they can do well if only they dedicate themselves to making one (maybe two) websites REALLY good.

  • Chris Wandel says:

    Hi guys,

    First of all, Justin well done for putting together such a fantastic debate.

    Mike’s comment at the end “Google should actually be thankful that we are creating content in niches where information is sparse or poorly covered”, well, I completely disagree with it. Niche sites are not a good user experience, everyone knows that they’re cheap little websites, there’s no escaping the fact that they are a low quality experience.

    As Google plus rises in popularity, it will take over this hole in the market by user posts appearing through SERPs. So they’ve addressed the problem, they’ll have all the long tail coverage they need soon from real people.

    Don’t believe me? Check out the the effects Google plus has on search, Joseph Archibald has been on the right track with this for a while now and I’ve watched Google+ grow since being one of the first early adopters. It’s going to be huge and the need for these little ten page niche sites will vanish.

    • Hi Chris,

      I agree that if you’re making a spamming little niche site then it will be a bad user experience, but just because a site is a niche site does not mean that it has to be crappy.

      Thanks for sounding off on this.

      • Chris Wandel says:

        Hi Mike,

        I’m not intimating that you make spammy little niche sites, so please accept my apologies if that’s how it came across.

        I’m more thinking about the wider social context, I’m talking about the stigma of being a 10 page little website, with no real personality behind it, even if it has been made with high values. I certainly think there’s a lot to say about the relationship between size and perceived quality and that’s why it’s so important in webmarketing and why Google favours it so much.

        A micro-niche site can never reach the quality of an properly made authority site which becomes a brand in itself.

        • I believe many niche sites do not need to be big at all. If people on google are searching for “brown rusty nails” then a small website should more than satisfy their appetite for information. Many times, the reason why niche sites rank is because there’s no one building Authority Sites for such a small topic to begin with. Also if the topic of “brown rusty nails” is only worth about 3 pages of info, why should I fill up 20 pages of fluff?

          • Alex Bastian says:

            I agree with Chris. I am pretty sure that those who scale the process of niche sites and churn them out using 3rd parties are not adding value. That’s just from the niche sites I have seen. I would LOVE to be convinced that this stance is incorrect as I’ve just started out with my niche sites.

            I agree if you have a site on ‘brown rusty nails’ that has proper good content then yeah. But can you tell me that a process that scales niche sites produces 1 page sites truly worth visiting by the user? I’m not talking about ‘in theory’ as on this debate but in practice… can it be done? Not from the niches I have bought thus far. Maybe I need to find new sources.

        • Are we comparing proverbial apples and oranges? I think the main point is that Authority and Niche sites are completely different. A true Authority site doesn’t depend on Google and gets traffic from all over. A true niche site is short in nature and fills a specific search term need. It answers the question for the user and then the user moves on.

  • I do agree that the best niche sites have a system going. That’s really the only way to make it work. I imagine it’s a tough thing to manage over an extended period of time.

    I’d also agree that authority websites can be risky if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket.

    Actually I’d recommend that people diversify both your income AND your traffic sources. That way, you’re not heavily impacted by any sudden change in the marketplace. We’ve seen countless times that the websites we “rely” on often change the rules. So it only makes sense to get your income/traffic from a large number of places. This is the best way to protect your online business.

    Anyway…thanks again for the comment!

  • rayfellers says:

    This discussion is one I’ve been having with a friend of mine. He’s solidly on the authority site bandwagon while I’ve been looking at niche sites as the way to go.

    There are considerations, when deciding on what type of site to build, other than a site’s longevity to consider. In my case, it’s the realization that at 69 years old, longevity isn’t on my radar, but income to supplement Social Security surely is.

    In any case, this whole article is terrific and I look forward to more. Thanks.

    • Thanks Ray! I’d agree that someone who is less concerned with longevity might consider a niche site. BUT, most of these sites have an over-dependence on Google. This is the same company that bans accounts, de-lists sites and changes their algorithm on a daily basis. To risky if you ask me.

      • rayfellers says:

        This is where we don’t agree. Just because a site is a “niche” site designed to make a sale doesn’t mean that organic traffic from search engines is the only way it can get visitors. Unless a niche site by someone’s definition relies solely on organic search engine traffic.

        • Yes, a niche site doesn’t necessarily have to rely solely on search engine traffic. Unfortunately many people miss the boat on this important fact and tend to “put all their eggs in one basket” when it comes to promoting their sites.

          It’s good to see that you’re branching out and getting results from other traffic strategies.

  • Jon says:

    Fabulous arguments on both sides. I think one other point should be made. People who crank out niche sites and do it successfully are probably systems people. The specialized ability is not about knowing a subject/niche really well. Instead, it’s about setting up systems that work.

    Authority sites, on the other hand, are all about a person’s passions and knowledge and sharing that passion and knowledge.

    I think this distinction gets to the heart of the matter.

    Moreover, both are business models. It’s akin to any industry. There are low-cost items sold in high volumes and highly customized products sold individually at higher profit margins, but overall lower sales volume.

    There will always be long tail keywords available because new products and current events evolve all the time. The niche site builders skills include finding those opportunities and creating a system.

    Authority sites are riskier than you think. Penguin knocked out a lot of authority sites which decimated incomes. It’s an eggs in one basket situation. However, I also believe that a highly successful authority site will likely be more profitable than hundreds or thousands of niche sites. But, not every authority site becomes that successful. It’s a gamble.

    If you’re deciding whether to go the niche or authority route, it’s helpful to know whether you have an absolute passion for anything (if not, an authority site will be tough) and whether you love creating systems (if so niche sites are a good fit).

    Ironically, I take the middle of the road approach. I build mid-sized sites around a topic but explore it and monetize it in a number of ways. It’s worked well for me. I get bored working on one site only and I enjoy setting up systems so I outsource some of the work. It’s a middle-of-the-road concept. I shoot for $1,000 to $5,000 per month revenue per site.

    I like the middle-of-the-road approach because I have many interests and can write on many subjects. I also like the diversity (less risk). These sell decently or I keep them and maintain them.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I’d agree that authority sites can be risky – If done incorrectly.

      You should NEVER put all your eggs in one basket…especially when it comes to Google. No matter what, I’d recommend diversifying your sources of income (Clickbank affiliate products, your own products, Kindle books, self-hosted affiliate products) and diversifying your traffic (FB, Google, networking, guest posting, podcasting etc.)

      The market is always changing. So the best way to *protect* your business is to have stuff coming in from so many different places that it would be impossible to turn it off 🙂

      • Steve, would you not also agree though that niche sites would also be less risky if done correctly? I feel niche sites have been getting a bad rep recently at least partially due to it’s appeal to lazy marketers. I think the idea of building quick and simple sites draws them in and these lazy marketers look for the easy way to rank and do poor research and build spammy links. Then later on they complain that their whole network of sites got deindexed. However, there’s those of us who took the time to think and learn the ins and outs – and we’re still ranking fine post penguin.

        • Definitely agree.

          But, I’ve also built a 50+ page niche site that was full of great content and value. It still got hit by Google 🙁

          I think ultimately you do get back what you put into something. So if you’re spending lots of time on a niche site; then it will probably avoid the many penalties that Google does on these type of web properties.

  • Rick says:

    I think both a great business models. But in the end, I think most niche builders will end up building an authority site.

    I build around 100 niche websites, and after sometime. When you got your “success” you just want to take it to the next level. And thats where authority websites come in.

    For me its like, working on my authority website is fun. Working on my niche websites……blergh. Problem: niche website can be very profitable. I still earn more from my niche websites then from my authority website. But in a few more months it will be the other way.

    Anyway if I would need to give advice to starters, I would always say, start with niche websites. 1000$ with a lot niche websites is easy. 1000$ with 1 authority website is a lot harder.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Rick!

      I tend to agree that it’s easier (and better) for someone new to start off with niche sites. Your point about wanting to “graduate” to mid-level or authority sites is spot-on. While I don’t think we’ll stop building niche sites, we’d like to get into the mid-sized site game, if only to reach a broader audience of buyers.

      There’s also the “fun factor” as you’ve mentioned. We’ve automated most of the site creation through our team, but I can understand that knocking out a ton of niche sites by yourself would get pretty tedious, for sure.

      • Sebastian says:

        Excellent reply Justin, couldn’t agree more. The amount of dedication is equal to both niche and authority sites is the same; the difference is how you apply it. With niche sites, you need to build at scale in an effective manner and you can make a quick buck with quality content. With authority sites you need to build not only quality content but VALUABLE quality content. That i think is the different between niche/authority sites. The VALUE they generate for the searcher.

        • Absolutely agree – It doesn’t matter if you’re building niche or authority sites. VALUE should be at the forefront of what you’re doing online. Making money should come secondary.

  • I loved this. I’d definitely want to see more battles.

    Personally, I agree with Steve. Everything he says sounds great. Building a passion site that will eventually turn into a monster is the way to go.

    I also think niche sites can be good. When Someone has built up their authority site I think it would be wise(and fun) to pay people to build niche sites based on your ideas.

    But first build a profitable authority site.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Awesome, Jamie…glad you liked the “debate” format. I’d really like to do more of these, i think!

      I agree that Steve’s points were pretty compelling. I like Mike’s approach in saying that a niche site is a perfecting testing ground or trial run for building out an authority site later. Some of our sites are “too niche” to become true authority sites. Some additional content to improve earnings? Yes. But a true authority site? Some yes, others no.

      • Yes, I like that part as well (Forgot to write about it in my rebuttal.) It’s a great “halfway” strategy for anyone who is struggling with what to build for the long-term.

        • Lianne @ whhow says:

          First off, thank you Justin, Joe and the team for this debate, it’s been really interesting. Steve, I am a subscriber to your site so thanks, you have been really helpful.
          Mike, I haven’t come across your site before will certainly take a look now.

          My thoughts are that I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation.
          In fact I think that a niche site can be an authority site. I agree that for newbies (and I am one of them!), starting with a specific niche that you know something about, enjoy writing content for and developing an audience for that with great content is a good way to start.
          Having 100 plus sites is for the expert niche builder I think, you would produce a poor quality site if you were starting out and had to juggle so many sites. less is more as they say! 🙂
          Thanks again, really enjoyed it.


      • Hey Justin,

        Yeah, that’s the thing. When people are starting out and they choose the right niche they could basically be building a niche site which will eventually turn into an authority site.

        I know it’s possible to make a lot of money from niche sites. I also know it’s very risky buying up 100’s of domain names and not being able to do anything with them because you are new and don’t have a successful formula.

        I think if people forget the idea of niche vs authority they can build a site that will take them through every stage.

        IMO If other people are making money in a niche it’s down to that person to make it work. There’s no such thing as a dud site. Other people are making money so the problem lies with them. If they can keep working on it they should eventually start making money then scale it.

    • Thanks Jamie. Glad to get one person on “my site.” 🙂

      After reading Mike’s post (and Justin’s response); I do agree that some people might find it useful to build a small niche site; test the market; and then expand on something that has been proven to work.

      Anyway…appreciate the comment!

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