Please note that affiliate links may be included in some posts.
Are you tired of the same old websites about weight loss, fashion, and finance?
Well, get ready to buckle up and hit the virtual road with my latest website niche report. I’m taking a deep dive into a website that’s all about the highways and byways of the East Coast of the United States.
Yes, you read that right – it’s a website dedicated to roads! But don’t let the subject matter fool you.
(Check out my parking niche report for, perhaps, an even MORE boring automotive online business opportunity.)
This website is making waves with over 13,000 organic visits a month and a top trafficked page dedicated to FDR drive in NYC. So, put on your seatbelt and let’s take a closer look at this one-of-a-kind website:
Eastcoastroads.com hosts over 75,000 exclusive photographs and detailed information on the highways and byways of the East Coast.
Despite the unconventional topic, this site manages to attract over 13,000 organic visits each month. And the most popular page? A profile of the FDR Drive in New York City:
How does this site make money (it doesn’t!) writing about roads, and what makes it so popular? Let’s take a closer look.
Below, you’ll see a ton of interesting keywords that they rank for, including:
- “interstate 495” with 4,400 searches a month
- “exit 6 nj turnpike” with 400 searches a month
- “i 87” with 2,100 searches a month
- “jericho turnpike” with 2,900 searches a month:
The idea here is to rank for some of these weird and random roadways, slap some Ezoic ads across the site, and rake in easy traffic.
If only it was so easy.
But, building a website these days is like pumping coins into a slot machine. You might win; you might also just waste your time and money.
Anyway, there’s a lot of roadway keywords you can target
Below, you’ll see 1,000 of Mapquest’s top-ranking keywords, a great place to start if you want to tackle some of these obscure highway and even location terms:
In America, the interstate highways are numbered according to a system based on odd and even numbers. The odd-numbered highways run north to south, while the even-numbered highways run east to west.
- Route 66: A historic highway that ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, popularized in movies and songs.
- Pacific Coast Highway (US-1): A scenic highway along the coast of California, running from Orange County to Mendocino County.
- Blue Ridge Parkway: A scenic drive through the Appalachian Mountains, stretching from Virginia to North Carolina.
- Great River Road: A national scenic byway following the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana.
- Overseas Highway (US-1): A 113-mile highway with 42 bridges connecting the Florida Keys to mainland Florida.
- Atlantic Ocean Road: A scenic road in Norway featuring eight bridges and beautiful coastal views.
- Beartooth Highway: A scenic drive through the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, featuring spectacular views and wildlife sightings.
- Million Dollar Highway: A stretch of US-550 through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, known for its stunning scenery and hairpin turns.
There are so many highways in America that one could blog about for an eternity, and still not cover them all. The most commonly known interstate highways are I-95, which runs along the east coast from Florida to Maine; I-5, which runs along the west coast from California to Washington; and I-10, which stretches from California to Florida.
But the interstates are just the beginning. US-1 runs the length of the east coast, while US-101 runs from California to Washington. The famed Route 66, while no longer an official highway, still holds a special place in the hearts of Americans, running from Illinois to California.
There are state highways, county roads, and local streets, all with their unique charm and quirks. Some are scenic drives through picturesque landscapes, while others are utilitarian routes connecting towns and cities. Each has a story to tell, and each can draw traffic to a blogger’s site through the magic of Google.
The highways of America are the veins and arteries of this vast country, connecting people, places, and ideas. There is no end to the tales that can be spun about these ribbons of concrete and asphalt, and the people who traverse them. A blogger could spend a lifetime exploring the highways of America, and still have stories left untold.
The Big Idea
The low-difficulty keywords and underserved niche make this site a unique and valuable resource for those interested in the highways of the East Coast.
Their tight hard silo structure makes it easy for Google to understand and rank the content.
There are some downsides. The navigational search queries (FDR Drive) and limited monetization opportunities could hinder the site’s growth potential.
While it’s clear that the owners of this site have a passion for the highways of the East Coast, it’s also clear that this is more of a passion project than a truly profitable authority site.
Take this site as an example of a fairly obscure niche that triumphs through unique image content and its rigidly organized hard silo.
What I Like
- The keywords for this website are low in difficulty, creating an excellent opportunity for this site to thrive in a unique, underserved niche.
- The site’s silo structure is incredibly organized, helping Google understand and rank the content with ease. This means you can maximize your visibility and reach your target audience faster.
- With over 75,000 exclusive photographs, the website provides a vast collection of unique and engaging content about the highways of the East Coast. This is a great way to capture your audience’s attention and provide valuable information that keeps them coming back for more!
What I Don’t Like
- One thing that concerns me is that a lot of the search queries are navigational, meaning that people are often just Googling an interstate to open up a location on Google Maps. This can hurt the search traffic potential in a niche like this.
- Another issue we need to consider is the limited monetization opportunities. Unfortunately, there aren’t many affiliate opportunities in this space. While it’s great to have a passion project, it’s also important to consider the potential profitability of an authority site topic- this is a display ads play.
- Getting images might be tricky- there’s the Google API that could help with that, or you could risk taking Street View screenshots without a license.
- Since the site isn’t running ads, the point is moot, but if you increased text size, added more paragraph breaks, included a Post Title on top, and inserted a desktop sidebar area, you could easily add 5 or 6 more ad placements per page, even though the content is a bit thin.
What I Would Do
If I was being adventurous and there weren’t any consequences from the Google blackshirts, I would use Jasper or ChatGPT and scraped Google Images, to build out thousands of ‘roadway’ landing pages.
ChatGPT would love lecturing users on roadway systems, so you’d have a free source of content.
I would use a dirt-cheap virtual assistant to create content with ChatGPT, and have them publish it on the site. It would be easy enough to hands-free publish 15 posts a day and see what happens.
But, nowadays, Google is pretty vicious and I wouldn’t trust that they wouldn’t penalize ALL of my sites in Search Console for the ‘misdeeds’ of one.
I would also find a bunch of local weather, local news, etc. widgets that could help increase the page length while hopefully boosting user engagement without slowing down the page speed too much.
From there, I’d be praying the site takes off and gets enough traffic to warrant Ezoic or Mediavine ads.
Read More Of My Niche Reports
Creating an organized silo structure for your website is a huge component of demonstrating robust topical authority.
If you drill down into NY:
you can see the hard silo expands into interstates:
and then into specific interstates:
This type of organization requires a great deal of forethought to execute, but it’s also a niche that lends itself to this type of granular organization.
The navigational breadcrumbs at the top of the pages also link back up the chain so the entire site is really well ‘tied together’.
For whatever reason, this site is not monetized. If it were, one issue it has is its content is too short form to run profitable in-content ads.
Googling FDR Drive, I found another website that creates longer-form content around roads and interstates: NYC Roads:
You can see here that this website has a lot more content-including a lot of historical information that beefs up the word count.
It looks like a website that’s had a lot of information layered onto it over time. It’s better optimized for an ad network like Ezoic or Mediavine because it’s so much longer and in-depth than East Coast Roads.
Automobile affiliate programs could be an interesting monetization angle – I would use ConvertBox popups to quickly split-test some different offers.
Several automobile affiliate programs offer competitive commission rates and other benefits. For instance:
- the MaXpeedingRods affiliate program offers an 8% commission on all orders, with a 60-day cookie and an average order value of over $180.
- J&P Cycles provides a flat 3% commission on all transactions, with an average order value of $150.
- Tire Rack has a solid 6% commission rate, with an average order value of over $400 and a 60-day cookie duration.
- Meanwhile, CarCovers.com provides a generous 10% commission rate, with a 30-day cookie duration and an average order value of over $160.
- The Uber affiliate program and Lyft affiliate program are also solid options.
There’s a bunch of sites competing for these roadway search terms:
If I were operating in this niche, I would study its competitors, see what they do well, and come up with a concept that integrates the best practices from all of the different websites.
For example, the Pennsylvania Rest Areas website includes a weather widget that displays local weather forecasts.
That’s useful information to have and any time you’re able to add another paragraph of content to the website, you can theoretically add a pair of ad units above and below it. The longer your contact is, the more money you’ll make from the ads you run inside of it.
What About Mapquest?
MapQuest is another style of site that ranks for similar keywords- almost 20,000,000 of them:
MapQuest is a great example of how a website can dominate search engine rankings through map results. While most websites focus on optimizing written content, MapQuest has focused on optimizing its mapping data. This has allowed it to rank for a wide variety of keywords related to highways, bridges, and specific locations, all through map results.
In fact, MapQuest is probably the most robust example, outside of Google Maps itself, of a website that ranks for the names of highways, bridges, and specific locations.
I want to emphasize that while this is an interesting niche with a lot of keyword opportunities, it’s important to note that it’s going to be primarily a display advertising opportunity with a poor affiliate angle. Additionally, obtaining imagery for this niche may be difficult due to licensing restrictions. However, there is a potential solution to this problem using Google Maps API, which can help with obtaining relevant images.
Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Ryan Nelson