Smart Niching: A Guide to SEO for Niche Markets
“You can’t be everything to everyone, so stop trying” may sound old and tired, but there’s more to this platitude than its retweetable quality.
What counts as a niche market?
In business, a “niche” refers to a smaller and targetable segment of a larger market in which specialised products and services can be offered. This market is made up of a narrow group of customers with high demand for a certain product or service. Moreover, a niche market has its own identity, preferences, and needs that distinguish it from the larger market.
Just about any market can be further segmented or refined based on:
- Demographics (age, gender, income, education, etc.)
- Geographics (location)
- Psychographics (interests, values, beliefs)
- Product or service quality (premium, handmade, artisanal, etc.)
- Price (budget, luxury, discount)
Examples of niche markets include:
- Environmentally-conscious consumers
- Pet owners
Catering to a niche can be a smart business strategy that helps entrepreneurs position themselves in a crowded market as well as cater to a specific customer base better than competitors that serve the larger market.
But businesses in niche markets face unique marketing challenges – in this case, their greatest strength is a potential weakness. Because the potential customer base is only a fraction of the larger market, it takes a lot of refinement to be able to reach their target audience.
Here’s how the right SEO strategy, and digital marketing as a whole, can help SMEs succeed in niche markets.
A mass of niches: SEO for niche markets
In his 2006 book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, Wired Magazine and TED founder Chris Anderson talks about how products with limited demand or sales volume can create a collective market share that can rival, and perhaps even exceed, bestsellers or blockbusters that are relatively fewer in number – but only with the assistance of shops, platforms, or distribution channels that are large enough to give them the scale of audience they need.
Anderson’s long-tail theory has been applied to countless industries, including, of course, search engine optimisation (SEO). In his book, he discusses the number of smaller, low-traffic sites that offered niche content that, when taken together, could give digital marketers the following and readership they were looking for.
This theory helped popularise the concept of audience targeting. Instead of buying ad space on large sites, marketers targeted individuals with the right ads everywhere they went online, including the long tail sites Anderson mentioned.
Advances in ad tech also made it easier for marketers to track internet users’ movements online as well as gather numerous small sites together so that they only need to go to one place to buy ad space across all of these at once.
Along with it came the concept of auctioning off ad opportunities, allowing marketers to bid on ad slots, with winning bidders successfully getting their ads placed.
In SEO, it has become increasingly common for marketers to target long tail keywords, or keywords with lower search volume, because these keywords make it relatively easier for sites to rank better as well as attract targeted traffic with strong or specific search intentions.
Keyword phrases that contain fewer words and have higher search volume are typically more competitive and are harder to rank for.
SEO offers many advantages to businesses that cater to niche markets. Here’s how a robust SEO campaign can help them reach the right audience.
SEO tips for niche businesses
- Analyse general search volume
One of the first things to do with niche SEO is to look at search volume for keywords or phrases in the relevant industry. This will help you find out if internet users are truly searching online for a given service or product, and whether there are better search terms out there that you could be targeting.
It helps to revisit search volume regularly – user intent and behaviours change over time. Keywords and phrases that helped you rank last year may not work for you this year, and so on.
If you’re targeting search terms with little to non-existent search volume, you’ll have difficulty pulling traffic to your site.
You can use several tools and extensions to analyse search volume, including Keyword Planner, Keywords Everywhere, and Keyword Overview, just to name a few.
2. Study the competition
Though there’s generally less competition in niche markets compared to major markets, it’s still necessary to study your competitors when doing niche SEO. This will help you get an idea of what they’re doing right (and what they’re doing wrong). Use this insight as the basis for crafting your own SEO strategy.
This doesn’t necessarily mean copying their strategies outright – it’s more of taking the good from it and doing SEO much better than they can.
3. Analyse the search engine results pages (SERPs)
Mine the SERPs by typing your keywords into the search bar and examine the SERPs based on:
- Content type
- Search intent
- SERP features (e.g. Images, People Also Ask, Knowledge Graph, Places, etc.)
You will be able to determine whether the user’s search intent is transactional, navigational, or informational based on dominant SERP features.
4. Conduct keyword research
Keyword research is one of the most important steps in successful SEO, niche or not. It helps you understand how internet users search for, and describe, niche products or services, so that you can optimise your site to better accommodate their search behaviour. It can also help your site rank better in the SERPs so that it becomes easier for customers to find you online.
Even if your customers are well-versed in jargon or terminology that is unique to your niche, they may not necessarily be using such terminology when searching for products and services online.
Moreover, if you want your SEO strategy to drive sales, you’ll have to make sure that your keywords have strong transactional intent. You’ll want to use key phrases containing transactional words like “buy” and “for sale” with the corresponding product or service pages on your business site.
5. Include keywords in your site
After finalising your keyword list, incorporate the best-performing keywords and key phrases into these parts of your site:
- Page title
- Body content
- Header tags
- Meta description
6. Generate quality content
Unique and high quality content that informs, entertains, and provides real value to the reader is one of the greatest drivers of rankings in any market. It also helps you engage users and demonstrate your niche expertise.
Keyword research, competitor research, and SERP analysis should help you determine what kind of content or information potential customers are looking for and more likely to interact with.
Despite the inclusion of keywords and phrases, you must ensure that your content is readable and that it sounds natural.
7. Conduct technical SEO
As you attract more traffic, you must ensure the overall usability and functionality of your site so that it is manageable for site visitors. Technical SEO covers various elements such as site speed, user friendliness, and so on. It typically begins with an SEO audit to help you establish baseline data.
Work with a niche SEO expert
Businesses in niche markets have every fighting chance of succeeding in today’s digital landscape as internet users now expect brands to cater to their unique needs and interests as well as provide custom content.
Contevo is here to help. With 15 years’ experience in SEO for both major and niche markets, our team will help your business reach its full potential. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.