Recently, I’ve found that I’m searching around for the top sites in any niche on a regular basis. When I mention top sites, I’m referring to sites with:
To give you an idea of what these might look like, I’ll use the internet marketing niche as an example. In my mind, some of the top ‘sites’ would be ones like Search Engine Land, SEOmoz, Copyblogger, Chris Brogan and SEO Book.
If I received a link from any of these I would be expecting it to be high quality in the eyes of search engines and drive a decent amount of traffic. Similarly, if they were posting specifically on a product I have for sale or a competition I’m running, I would expect sales and / or entries from their recommendations. The latter example is the reason I like to look at blogs with the most evangelical audience.
So, besides actually finding these top sites, what is my motivation for finding them? Well, I actually have 2 motivations:
1. If I’m promoting a new website then I want to find blogs that I can comment on and interact with. It’s likely I can receive some decent traffic on the comments and on any links I manage to attract my way.
2. If I have a product to promote then I’ll look for sites that might accept payment for a post or that I might be able to leverage to help me out. For example I may leave a few comments on a blog and then ask the author if they mind posting about X, where X is something relevant to their site. This is far more likely to work when you’ve left a few comments and given something back rather than asking them straight away.
If you are a blogger, finding these top sites can also mean that you see the type of content that is doing well in your niche. You can also get a better idea of traffic potential based on the activity of the top sites and how many feed subscribers they have.
Finding the top sites in a niche is as easy or as hard as you want to make it. I’m sure you will be very familiar with some of the options here but hopefully a few are new to you as well.
1. Gather your keywords
Once you know the niche that you are going to be blogging in or even just researching, start to map out some keywords that people might use to title their sites. For example, when I launched PluginID I know that the main word used for this topic is ‘personal development’. However, there are other similar keywords such as:
Whatever your niche is, make sure you work out some of the best and most common keywords people use to refer to the type of content you will be creating. A good tool for this is Google Sets, simply enter a few related keywords that you are aware of and Google will return more for you.
2. Query the top search engines with your keywords
This is probably the most obvious but it is effective and I don’t remove things from a blog post just because they are expected to be here. Once you have your keywords from step one, use them to find the most popular resources. You’ll tend to find that the most popular sites in terms of traffic and feed subscribers also tend to rank well in search engines. This is because they receive a lot of backlinks on a regular basis and they have massive trust and relevance around their keywords.
Instead of just searching for the keywords, try to add things to the query such as:
With this method you should hopefully find a lot of good sites you can add to your list as the top in your niche.
3. Check the Google Directory
When I talk about the Google Directory, I’m actually referring to the one that you can find within Google Reader. If you click on the discover button on the left hand side you will end up at this location.
First of all you will see recommendations for other feeds based on the sites you already subscribe too. This can be very helpful; something else that is useful is the number of Feed subscribers shown. This is calculated by the number of people subscribing to a feed using Google services such as Google Reader and IGoogle, their personalised homepage.
There is also a browse feature which means you can use your keywords from earlier to see which sites are the most popular.
4. Check Bloglines
Bloglines is another popular reader besides Google Reader and also comes with a feature that shows you how many people subscribe to feeds using their service. Some less popular feed readers do this but because they have no audience there’s nothing to compare the figures against.
I tend to receive 10% of my feed subscribers as Bloglines readers so whatever number you see next to a feed can be multiplied by around 5 to 10 to get a more accurate number of subscribers. Once again, use some of your keywords from earlier and check out the top sites:
5. Browse BOTW
In the past I would have recommended looking through the DMOZ directory, these days however I would much rather recommend Best of the Web. Besides the fact that their website is updated regularly and fully of quality sites, they are also hiring ex-DMOZ editors to help them moderate the site.
First of all I recommend going through the relevant categories and see if you can find some interesting sites there. It’s always good to look through a paid directory like BOTW because:
Be aware that some sites may not be all that useful and simply submitted by the SEO company that they are hiring. After you’ve searched around the general directory you can then check out their Web Blog Directory which offers some great resources and top niche sites.
6. Technorati Categories
Technorati is the original blog search engine, and despite being under competition from the likes of Google Blogsearch, it has continued to be a very popular destination. Technorati has a very interesting ranking system known as ‘Authority’ in which a site gets points based on how many links it has received in the last 6 months.
This is quite crucial as it means any sites with a lot of authority are likely to be posting regularly and getting a lot of attention from other websites. You can browse hundreds of categories to see sites that are going to be in a niche that is relevant to yours and you’ll be sure to find some gems.
7. “Top Niche Sites”
There are quite a few search queries you can use to see if people have covered the top sites in your niche before. Some examples of this include:
If you use a little imagination you can probably think of some more. The reason I included top “niche” blog posts is that this seems to be very popular and you are more likely to find something like that then the top niche blogs. Once you’ve found the top posts you simply click through to see if the site is popular.
Hopefully you enjoyed this guide and will have no trouble finding the top sites in a niche from now on.