Ah ha, questions questions...
Depends on which site we're discussing! ;)
The main money maker is updated daily with lots of new stuff. For me this isn't as much about giving the audience new data as it is about expanding the depth of my search engine coverage. The audience may like getting all the fresh information but building up a lot of content that's easily found in the SE's is the real trick. Some content gets instant hits, other builds up traffic over time, it's all good.
You don't have to compete with the stores head to head for all keywords. Depending on the niche, and the abilities of the SEO they hired, there are often a lot of long-tail weak spots just waiting for someone with vision to step in and fill those gaps.
Which would you rather have:
- 1 keyword with 3K hits a day or,
- 500 terms with 6 hits each per day?
In the best of all worlds I'll take "C) all of the above" but for the sake of this conversation I'll take the latter as it's easier to build and keep a lot of long-tails. The other upside is the snooping SEOs don't find your magic term because there isn't one, there's thousands, which makes a new competitors job tougher to easily unseat your position.
If your site manages to get more authority than the store itself, then competition isn't even a serious concern. Think about the fact that most online stores end up with affiliate links as the bulk of their inbound links, and those typically redirect through places like CJ or LinkShare which provide zero value to the store. When that's the case it's an easy nut to crack.
Just check and see what kind of PR the stores have for the niche you want to enter, how they rank for a few dozen (hundred?) terms you want to rank for, and you'll have a clue what kind of battle you're going to have getting to the top.
According to Yahoo I have 75K+ IBLs, but I think it's more like 10K IBLs. However, you can do a lot with less as I kick started my wifes first online biz with 2 IBLs and it was cranking out hundred$ a month in no time and we're working on taking her sites to the next level now.
Very competitive, ferocious to be exact. Imagine trying to compete for "COMPUTER" and you get the idea. Lost one of my oldest held keywords a few months ago and couldn't be happier because I was busy laying the foundation for more long-tail keywords which brought in 150K new visitors per month.
My main site actually started as a hobby site the first year and exploded over time. I started taking it real serious when it was mentioned in mainstream magazines and big companies started buying ad space which was a real eye-opener.
I'm not sure I'd attempt my niche if I were starting out today, mostly because I'd have to compete with my own site! ;)
However, other sites we've started are based on products or services, things that people have to buy all the time so conversions are higher making a combo of AdSense and affiliates very effective. I'm a big fan of goods and service people have to buy all the time, necessities you MUST have, opposed to chasing electronic fads and trends with a lot of competition.
While many are making noise and chasing the latest new thing with a few big money ads I'm quietly taking a lot of money in smaller chunks from a broader base of advertisers.
Mixed bag here as it's a blend of all sorts of contributions.
I was very knowledgeable but not an expert in the field. However, you don't have to be an expert to build an authority site. Once you start building such a beast you immediately become the authority just because you did the research, fact collection and collaboration required to get the site to fruition. Think about it, how do any of us become an expert other than learning the topic and you can become an expert during the course of building the site.
Hope that answers a few questions!
[edited by: incrediBILL at 2:25 am (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]