Niche websites were once all the rage but have fallen out of favor in SEO circles these days. The debate rages on today with some advocating these sites while others declare that only authority sites can survive in today’s environment. We’re going to look at what’s happened to these sites and what the future might hold for those who create them.

It’s important to remember that the term niche website has a very specific meaning within the internet marketing community. It refers to websites built to target one specific keyword. This shouldn’t be confused with websites that target a niche interest. Many successful websites could be said to do just that. The difference is that a cultural niche like model car building still encompasses a pretty wide range of topics. So while the layman might think a niche website would target model cars we’re talking about sites that might target a keyword like “1968 Mustang Fastback Model Car.”

So what is wrong with niche websites? In truth there’s nothing inherently problematic with the idea. Such sites could theoretically be great for searchers, catering to their very specific needs. The problem is that’s not how most people have gone about creating niche websites. Instead many internet marketers have seen these sites as a shortcut to the top of Google and quick profits.

Because these sites were so often very thin content-wise and full of mediocre content search engines sought to penalize them. Google’s panda and penguin updates did serious damage to many niche sites. They changed a few things which hurt their power. For one they started targeting sites that they saw as being too focused on just one keyword. Sites that develop organically usually work with a broader keyword range. They also decreased the power of exact match domains. Many people would buy domains that were the exact same as the keyword they were targeting. This still has some value, but not as much as before.

After all of that it may seem like I believe niche websites are dead. This isn’t the case. There are plenty of people who are still making these sites and making making money off of them. After all, Google is limited in the ways that it can target these sites. Usually the measure is how much content is on the site, but there are plenty of valuable sites that may only have a few pages. Conversely you can have an authority site filled with pages and pages of worthless material. There will most likely always be room for niche websites that provide something of real value to searchers.

So what is the value of niche websites today? While these sites aren’t as popular as they once were they are still a great way to get started. Building a website and making it profitable can be a daunting task. Starting a niche site is a great way to start out small before you build up. Your goal should be an authority site, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start out with a more focused niche. Just make sure you do your SEO correctly, not stuffing your content with too many keywords, using diverse links and anchor text, and so on. And finally, actually think of users when creating content. If you take these steps you’ll be much better off.

Lots of bloggers out there are making statements like “niche websites are dead” or “niche websites will be around for ever,” but no one knows for sure what the future holds. The one thing we know is that every search engine is pushing for WME review. Trying to make money quickly without creating content is a dead end. Some people may succeed doing that as there are always exceptions, but it’s no longer a safe bet. Whether you decide to create niche or authority web sites then you have to put your readers first.