Website Income

5 Steps To Identifying My Authority Website Niche

When building an Authority site it is important to not follow the typical instructions of starting with keyword research. Although keyword research is important it is more important to first identify who it is your website is going to serve. How does a Hollywood trick help this process?(see step #5)

The overriding principle to keep in mind when it comes to authority websites is to pick a topic where you are in a position to help a lot of people. This has been said by many different ways by many people…

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Zigler

“Your success is a measure of the number of people you helped” (paraphrased from Pat Flynns Podcast)



First Step – Write Down a List of 15-20 Topics

These topics can anything but here are 4 ways to think about them…

1. Problems you are experiencing

(free time, car shopping, landscaping, bathroom remodel, knee pain, back pain, automating investing)

 2. Passions you have

(BBQ, skiing, mountain biking, family, music, fitness, personal finance, small businesses)

 3. Bodies of knowledge you have

(skiing, project management, outsourcing, student debt, personal finance, fitness)

 4. Fears You Have

(financial security for family, back problems in the future)

If you are struggling look in your internet history and identify websites you have recently visited and list them.


Second Step – Group the List into 3-5 Central Topics

Take the list and see what central topics are present in many of the topics identified in step 1.

  1. Using New Technology for Small Business – Free time, project management, small business, outsourcing
  2. Young Family & New Home – Landscaping, bathroom remodel, family, BBQ
  3. Outdoor Sports and Injuries – Skiing, Mountain Biking, Knee Pain, Back Pain, Fitness
  4. Age Specific Personal Finance – financial security for young family, automating investing, student debt, personal finance

Some topics which didn’t make it into a group were music and car shopping and that is fine.


Third Step – Pick a Group you have a Knowledge/Passion/Problem/Fear in

In the ideal scenario you will have a group in step 2 where you have one of everything some passion, some fear, a problem and knowledge.

When you have a group that covers all of these dimensions you know you will have enough to say to be able to build out an authority site.

Based on this criteria there are 2 Groups where I have a Passion, a Fear, a Problem and Knowledge in:

Outdoor Sports and Injuries

Age Specific Personal Finance

I believe I could build a successful Authority Website around both of these topics however because I have more interest right now in personal finance I will go with it.


My Authority Site Topic will be – Age Specific Personal Finance


With an authority site the idea is to become a tribe leader as Seth Godin would say and it is therefore important to define your tribe which is what we will do in step 4 and 5.


Fourth Step – Identify Similar Authority Sites

Here a good place to start is in your internet history or Google Reader, find websites you like to read that are related to your Authority Site Topic.

Websites I Like & Similar Sites to What I Will Make…



You can use the tool at to identify other related authority websites to the ones you like.


Fifth Step – Define Your Unique Position (Hollywood Style)

A great way to define your unique position is to hijack 2 well defined ideas to create a unique position.

In the book Made To Stick the authors talk about how this is done for pitching Hollywood movie ideas. For example, think Jaws on a spaceship = Aliens.

The unique position for my finance site will be…

Helpful, informative student Loan website dedicated to student loan repayment but with personality and community not available on government or bank websites.

Usefulness of (targeted to repayment) with the community/personality of


Blue Ocean / Made To Stick Method for Identifying Under-served Market

Identifying these gaps in the market was the central theme of the book Blue Ocean Strategy, in it the authors discussed case studies where entrepreneurs identified the under-served intersection of 2 existing markets. This strategy was described in the offline world but is just as applicable online.


NEXT – Keyword Research

Many internet marketers I know will be shaking their head that we have gone this far to committing to a topic without doing any market viability review or keyword research.

See the next step in this Authority Site Case Study – Keyword Research and Creating Your Sitemap


Other Resources to Help You Pick Your Sites Topic

The above method seems to work well for me and some other people that have used it. However, not everyone is the same so here are some other really good posts on helping you identify your niche aka market aka tribe…

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Kristy says September 6, 2012

Jon, I really like your step #3 for bringing several interests together to make 1 authority website.

By doing that extra step it wont take me much to adapt my current niche finding methods.

Looking forward to following your posts!

Jeff Swan says September 6, 2012

Man that is one competitive niche you are going to be going after. Are you sure you have defined yourself as unique?
It will be interesting to see what you are going to do to go up against the banks/governments/universities ranking for these keywords.

    Jon says September 7, 2012

    Jeff, good points. Is my topic unique enough? I believe there is a need for a personal finance site style blog site dedicated to helping people with student debt minimize its cost/impact on their life.

rowland says May 28, 2013

Jon, thanks for this helpful post and the resource place. really going a long way clearing the cobwebs in my head on how to pick and identify my niche. will stick to this place.

Ian Pickering says August 21, 2013

Awesome post!
This was a missing piece for me as far as making a jump from niche site to authority site.
And such a simple method!
Thank you!

    Jon says August 21, 2013

    Glad you liked it Ian. Best of luck with selecting your problem to solve!

Krista says October 4, 2013

Hi Jon,

I just came across your blog a couple of weeks ago via the epic expired domains guide. Think I’ve read about half your blog now too! Love this idea for keyword research, I’m in the process of setting up a number of new sites and will definitely give this approach a go.

Thanks for providing so much useful content 🙂

Carlos Coto says January 18, 2014

Hi Jon,
Great Post! Loved the info, and how you used the blue ocean theory to find the niche for the site. Thanks for showing everything. Great to have found your site, looking for info on niche sites… Thanks!

    Jon says January 19, 2014

    Thanks Carlos, best of luck with your project!

Tyronne Ratcliff says January 27, 2014

That student loan site is a great idea. Plus it’ll have that human element that a lot of those big government sites don’t have. Great post by the way.

Donnie Law says June 6, 2014

Looks like you’re doing great Jon! When are you moving back up to the Blue Mountains?

I think a few authority sites makes a lot more sense than the old school model of building 100+ sites. Best of luck moving forward!

    Jon says June 9, 2014

    Hopefully within the near future

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