Ken Evoy, Owner of SiteSell, Inc.: “Rob, Awesome Post. I Suggest All Read It, Some Sharp, Creative Thinking. Trying to “Be There” Before the Gold Rush to a New Niche Is an Interesting Bet! You’ll Be THE Name If It Happens. Heck, You Might Even Help MAKE It Happen!”

ISet forth below is the text of a post that I put to the SiteSell (a web hosting company) forum, followed by the response of SiteSell Owner Ken Evoy:

I believe that the path forward is to move away from the idea that there is one right way to build a successful site and to position SBI as a company that helps one-person shops build successful sites in a variety of ways.My site never fit the SBI model. I write about personal finance. That’s a huge topic with a huge amount of competition, certainly not the sort of niche that SBI advises its customer’s to pursue. There is a sense in which I am filling a niche — I employ behavioral finance insights that have to a large extent been ignored by the “experts” in the saving and investing fields. So my site is 100 percent unique and I really am a little guy going up against the big guys. But I don’t try to beat them by covering a smaller universe of subject matters. My hope is that behavioral finance insights will gain in popularity and that will pull enough people to my site for it to gain traction and then word of mouth will do the rest because the material is so good. If it happens (it hasn’t yet but I believe there is cause for optimism in the hugely enthusiastic support I have won among a small number of big names in the field), I will have won something bigger than just authority in a niche. It’s a riskier strategy than the usual SiteSell strategy, to be sure. But the payoff will be correspondingly big if the bet pays off.I knew that SBI was about developing niche material when I joined. So why did I sign up? I know that there are too many things to know about getting a business going on the internet for anyone to do it without help. I wanted to form relationships with others pursuing similar (but not the same) goals and learn from them (while also teaching them when I had something to offer in return). For example, I might want to create a PDF report to sell at my site and know nothing about how to do it. Someone with a niche site could share that knowledge with me. An area that I am strong in is getting expert endorsements. Perhaps I could share information on how to do that in return.I have nothing against the conventional SiteSell strategy. It obviously worked very well for a good number of people for a good amount of time. But I never felt that it was the only way to go and I always felt frustrated that it was hard to gain traction here with discussions of alternative strategies. I set up lots of pages that have no good keywords attached to them. That was the right thing for me to do because those pages explore strategies that I need to describe but that no one else in the personal finance field has written about. That’s a good thing for me! The fact that my work is unique is what gives it potential power even if Google changes its ranking rules (my unique saving and investing strategies can gain favor at FaceBook or Twitter or wherever). So I was right to write those pages. I often felt like a fool, though, because those pages did not fit the system and have not yet brought in visitors. If I become popular enough, they might bring in visitors in a later day. I created those pages as part of a long-term strategy.

My strategy is not one that many others are likely to pursue. But there are lots of possible variations both of the SiteSell way and of my way and of lots of other ways. David at the Cornhole site often talks about going for a small number of high-interest visitors rather than a large number of medium-interest visitors. I think that can be a good strategy for some niches. There are lots of other possibilities.

I understand why the conventional SiteSell approach had such appeal once upon a time. Google really ranked sites that followed the system well. The trouble (in my view!) is that not so long a time ago there was no Google. Google itself lacks a long history in which it determined for sure how rankings should be done. So ranking rules remain highly fluid rules. There is no one system that can be sure to work for a long time. It’s possible that three years from now Google will switch back to its old way of doing things. It’s possible that it will follow some entirely new path. It’s possible that some entirely new entity will replace Google. We don’t know.

Given that we don’t know, it is my belief that there are numerous possible paths for smart people to follow. That’s scary. If there is no one way sure to work, then there is a lot of risk attached to this site-building business. I think that there’s a lot of risk and that we all need to accept that going in. It would be fair to say that some strategies are less risky than others. And it would make sense to indicate to people what those strategies are. But given the riskiness of the entire endeavor, I think it is a mistake to believe that there is one strategy that is superior for all one-person-shop site builders.


Ken Evoy’s Response:
Rob, awesome post…I suggest all read it, some sharp creative thinking.Trying to “be there” before the gold rush to a new niche is an interesting bet! You’ll be THE name if it happens. Heck, you might even help MAKE it happen!Re this…

[quote]I set up lots of pages that have no good keywords attached to them.[/b]

Yes, that’s the way folks should evolve. Much like golf, you should stop thinking of the mechanics of the swing at some point and just swing.

Many SBIers, once they are trained and the site is starting to flesh out, relax and are ready to just add great subject matter regardless of keyword.

You don’t need to be in your “ahead of the market” situation to do that, Rob.

But I don’t think we ever actually suggest that, Rob, so it’s a good point to add a point that, as you get used to the process, just relax and go with the flow of delivering a great user experience.

It’s possible to slavishly follow the AG “too much.” I can see that many would also NOT think to just “relax and swing.” You can’t break your site by delivering unique content. I think of it this way…

Demand is what people THINK of searching for (i.e., you follow their lead). NOT to build pages about Anguilla villas, Anguilla hotels, etc., would be foolish for a fairly tight niche like Anguilla. But adding articles about folks who have weekend in-house open kitchens (something she’s working on) is the type of unique and original information that pop people’s eyes once they are on your site.

Naturally, you’ll include the page in your zine, feed and FB post, reinforcing your reputation as a provider of information to follow.

We’ll build this concept up and add it to the Action Guide….

If you think your readers would enjoy it even if it’s not in the MKL, do it. It’s not so much about longtail search (although you’ll get a bit of that) as it is about the bigger concepts mentioned above.

We’ll add that. Thanks very much for bringing it up!


  1. bannwd plop contributor says

    So you are now endorsed by Ken Evoy?

    Quite a feather in your cap, considering the source, eh, Rob?


  2. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob says:

    “My hope is that behavioral finance insights will gain in popularity and that will pull enough people to my site for it to gain traction and then word of mouth will do the rest because the material is so good.”

    That is hilarious. It is Rob’s “behavior” that got him tossed off a bunch of the boards and we can see that most people think his material is a joke.

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