Friday, May 11, 2007

Selecting a Topic for Your Web Site

Selecting a good topic is the first step to building a successful web site.

You should select a topic which you find interesting, as you will be devoting thousands of hours of your life to this topic. It does not necessarily have to be a topic where you are deeply knowledgeable today, but it does have to be a topic in which you are interested in becoming deeply knowledgeable.

It should also be a topic in which other people are interested. No one wants to build a web site only for themselves. Your topic should be broad enough to appeal to a good audience, but narrow enough for you to be able to cover it comprehensively. Many successful web sites initially focus on a very small niche’, grow to dominate that niche’, and then branch out from that niche’ into related topics.

It should be a topic with economic value to an advertiser. Some topics are very interesting as hobbies, but do not do well at generating income. For example, the War of 1812 is fascinating, but is not something which will interest many advertisers.

Finally, the topic for a new web site should be one which is not too competitive. If there are already a hundred great web sites on your chosen topic, you should choose a new topic where you will be able to add something new to the Internet.

How to Determine if Other People are Interested in your Topic

One easy method of determining if other people are interested in your topic is to use the Digital Point Keyword Suggestion Tool ( This tool will show you rough numbers which represent what people on the Internet are searching for. These numbers come from the Wordtracker and Overture tools which we will discuss in the section on keyword selection.

Enter possible topics into the Keyword Suggestion tool and you will be able to get a rough idea how popular your topic is – as compared to other topics. The actual numbers are irrelevant; the important thing to note is how the numbers relate to one another.

Today, the term “arizona” scored 265 on Wordtracker and 492.4 on Overture. The term “chicago white sox” scored 511 on Wordtracker and 755.1 on Overture. From this data, we can see that more people search the web for information on the White Sox than on the Cardinals.

How to Determine if Advertisers are Interested in your Topic

One of the best methods for measuring advertiser interest in a topic is to find out what it would cost an advertiser to purchase a PPC (Pay Per Click) advertisement on that topic. This can be done using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool (

Enter the topic you are thinking of as a keyword and click “Get More Keywords”. Change the value of the “Show columns” dropdown list to “Cost and ad position estimates”. Enter an unrealistic value as the Max CPC -- $50 should work fine. Click the “Recalculate” button.

When we try to search for “white sox”, our search fails. This is because AdWords does not allow advertisers to key on Trademarks. Therefore, we search for other terms which will be found on our web site. For example, a search for “baseball” shows that “baseball” currently has an average CPC of$1.07. This is a good CPC and tells us that this is a site idea that we might be interested in.

How to Determine if your Topic is too Competitive

NicheBot ( is one useful tool for roughly determining the competitiveness of a keyword. Enter your prospective keyword and click the “Search” button.

If we search for “white sox”, we see that “chicago white sox” was searched for 40,537 times. That is excellent. Lots of people are interested in this topic. However, we also see that 19,100,000 pages on the Internet include the phrase “chicago white sox.” That gives us a ratio of 471.17. 471.17 generally means that a search term is very competitive. I recommend competing for search terms with a ratio of less than 10.

However, if we look down the list of suggested keywords, we see that “white sox jersey”, “white sox jerseys”, “chicago white sox jersey”, “chicago white sox jerseys”, “chicago white sox jacket” and “chicago white sox hat” all have ratios below ten. This tells us that a web site dedicated to Chicago White Sox clothing could potentially do very well.

Checklist for Topic Selection:

  • I am interested in this topic
  • Other people are interested in this topic
  • Advertisers are interested in this topic
  • This topic is not too competitive
Article by Will Spencer at DigitalPoint Forums.