Broad site vs narrow niche in terms of earnings - What's your experience?

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I have a handful of sites, all of them are niche focused (kitchen gear, fishing, cars etc.) apart from one that is a strict review site. On there I review everything from kitchen gear to barbies and bed linen.

When looking through my site's statistics, I've noticed that the RPV is very much lower on the review site, than on all the other sites. We're talking half the earnings.

None of my sites have a social media following. They are not very big. They rank very high for their keywords, but it's not like they are reputable in the industry so that people go there directly without Googling. 98% of the content are "best xxx 2020".

The designs and structure of all sites (niches and the review site) are basically identical.

I am a bit baffled about the difference in earnings between the niche sites and the review site.

Obviously people have more initial trust for a kitchen knife review if it comes from Frenchkitchenstuff.com than Reviewdudes.com. But I didn't expect it to show this much of a difference in terms of earnings per visitor and earnings overall.

My idea now is that a strict "review all"-site needs to display a much better design than the other sites, to show some sort of authority and seriousity. The niche sites can be uglier, but since the whole site is dedicated to one niche - it must have some sort of expertise.

I'm pulling numbers out of my butt now, but the results I am seeing is basically this:
100 people are googling "best protein powder" and comes to my health site. 60 of them buys something through affiliate links.
100 people are googling "best protein powder" and comes to my review site. 30 of them buys something through affiliate links.

Both sites have similar design, same way of presenting the article and affiliate links are put in the same places.

Question: Have you guys seen differences like this in earnings between "review everything"-sites and niche sites? If so, why do you think that is?

I understand that "all review"-sites might look less dedicated, specialised and so on. But I didn't think it would show this much of a difference.

 

Ryuzaki

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I think this is one case where we need to give users more credit than we typically give them in discerning the motive of the website owners.

I bet if you showed them a page on "Best Shinsu Cooking Knives" from CookingWithJenny.kitchen and one from Top5Reviews.com in the SERPs that they start making decisions in their mind before even clicking.

"Jenny is a real person with real experience who probably blogs about her recipes and it just so happens I'm going to end up on her knife page because her husband bought her a set of these for Christmas" versus "Top 5 Review guys are in this entirely for money. I doubt they've even used these knives."

That bias likely carries over once they click through to the site and view the page. I actively avoid those generic review sites if I'm looking for information, and I don't believe that's unique to me as an SEO / Marketer. It's blatantly transparent. Sites like CNET got away with it because they had magazines on shelves forever and are focused on one niche, so at least they specialize and probably care to a minor degree. Their reputations depend on it.

I'd also assume that, despite the intent being about the same for a search term, that those hot users can still be subdivided into "really hot" and "kind of hot," All purpose review sites probably get clicks from people still trying to find their bearings, while the more specific sites get clicks from those people but also those who are ready to commit and want one last reassurance from a real person.
 

bernard

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Interesting, I don't have a general review site, for the reason I don't really consider it a long term viable strategy, unless you're able to go big and very branded, like Wirecutter.

I also agree with Ryu, most searchers are used to affiliate and review sites now. They are able to spot these general review sites and probably rate them as less trustworthy.

Something that's interesting for me, is that I get a lot of branded searches like "Acme Waterrower 2.0 review", where the model would not be known to the general public. That means someone first googled "water rowers", then found one of these review sites, then decided on one of them, but wanted to make sure it was a good choice. THEN they google for the actual product and they seek out a niche site that is trustworthy. That's where I hook them or that's my guess.

So I think users and searchers are getting more sophisticated, where they understand the different type of results. They might look at broad review sites as inspiration, but not consider them as very trustworthy.

In a way, that's fine isn't it? Would you say that both type of sites serve their purpose?
 
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It's interesting both from a user and affiliate pov, as I've been doing a lot of research into cameras and video software over the last few months.

A 'general review' site would have been a D-list search result for me while, depending on the specialised nature of the search, either a specialist review site (e.g. www.dpreview.com) or an 'old fart' html nightmare site created by a topic expert (e.g. www.kenrockwell.com) could have definitely been an A-list result.

That's from the user pov looking for information. But from the pov of clicking on links, I would have tended away from clicking on any affiliate links on a general review site as they tended to be intrusive (interrupting or covering content) while I would enthusiastically search for affiliate links to support a site that was particularly helpful. (I accept I might not be a typical user!)

NB. re @CCarter 's comments on video. Youtube formed a sizeable proportion of the useful information available and subsequent clicks on affiliate links, although obviously the topic lended itself to this channel.
 

bernard

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I think it may be difficult for us to judge what people are using to research products. I'd personally NEVER use something like The Wirecutter and I find it to be ugly, difficult to read and overly verbose. I'll be happy to read a niche site, but I'll keep in mind the monetary incentive.

I find the most value in forums and blog comments, but I also understand most people don't want to read that. Like my thread about bying a watch here, I got some comments about Seiko 5, then I googled it and found some watch nerds debating those in blog comments on some watch blog. Both the forum thread and the blog comments were very insightful because they were clearly real, non-incentivized comments.

What I like to do, when reviewing something I know nothing about, is to find those forum discussions, find those blog comments and then simply add them to my reviews:

ToffeeLa on BuSo forum prefers niche sites over general sites for buying a camera:
"...A 'general review' site would have been a D-list search result for me while, depending on the specialised nature of the search, either a specialist review site (e.g. www.dpreview.com) or an 'old fart' html nightmare site created by a topic expert (e.g. www.kenrockwell.com) could have definitely been an A-list result..."
Now look at that, isn't that value added in a review?
 
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Good input lads.

Just like you, I have more trust in niche sites and forums, than the review sites we are speaking about.

I am trying to pull back time and remember how I reasoned before I started IM. It was only 3-4 years ago since I got to know SEO and IM. Before that I was completely ignorant and had no idea what was what. I think I trusted the review sites as long as they looked proper. I don't think I differentiated between niche and review sites. I probably thought that they all had tested the products themselves.

"Through yourself you know others", as the Swedish saying goes. Perhaps the regular user isn't as dumb as I was, before starting SEO.
 
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Isn't the real question: How do you differentiate your review site?

Honestly, most of the look the same to me and have the same structure. However, in terms of differentiation I have no really good answer. Would appreciate your opinions on this topic.