One of the most common pieces of advice you hear as an internet marketer is to look for low competition niches. This is great advice because specializing in a niche is a great way to make a name as an expert in that niche. You have less competition to deal with and you’re able to attain higher search rankings than if you go after broad topics.
But if you do a little research, you’ll find that most niches have already been targeted by dozens or hundreds of other internet marketers. Thus, you have to find creative ways to push your way into that niche. You have to figure out how to stand out above all the other people who have already gone after that niche.
1. Defining a Niche
First, let’s talk about what I mean by “niche.” A niche is specialized subject that attacks a specific topic. The best way to define a niche is to use an example. Let’s look at the “credit card” industry. The credit card industry is huge and consists of hundreds of sub topics. A niche website would tackle one of those specific sub topics.
For example, a niche subject within the credit card industry would be “student credit cards.” This topic still falls within the broad category of credit cards, but it focuses on one specific subset of credit card applicants. If you wish to define the niche even further, you could talk about “low interest student credit cards.” Both “student credit cards” and “low interest student credit cards” are niches of different sizes.
As this example shows, niches can be broken down into smaller and smaller categories. This is just one example. Another example can be found in the “poker” industry. Poker gets a lot of search volume but it is a very broad and competitive topic. You could break your website down into something much more specific such as “no limit Texas Holdem poker” or even further into “no limit Texas Holdem poker tournaments.”
2. Pushing Your Way into Any Niche
As mentioned above, most niches have already been targeted to some extent by other websites. If you want to succeed in your niche, you need to find a way to out-compete all the other people that have already targeted your topic.
Research the Competition
What I like to do when targeting a new niche is to first look at the competition. I’ll run a few searches on Google and look at what other webmasters are doing in my niche. In smaller niches, I will often see a lot of low quality, made-for-adsense websites. These websites target certain niche keywords, but they don’t stand out as an authority on that subject.
Next, I’ll do a little research as if I was a potential customer. I will run Google searches to find information about the product or service. One thing I notice time and time again is that good information is tough to find. For example, I recently had a very difficult time finding any information about purchasing longer wall chargers for my Droid phone. All I was able to find were cheesy web stores with very little information.
The above paragraph contains the key to succeeding in any niche. You can always find information deficiencies when searching for specific information online. Success comes by providing useful information to your readers.
Here’s a personal example: I bought a new computer the other day and downloaded the latest version of Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client. I had to set up all my hosting e-mail accounts within the client but couldn’t figure out how to do that with the latest Thunderbird client.
I searched all over the place on Google for help, but nobody had a guide for setting up the latest version of Thunderbird with my website e-mail accounts. Eventually, I figured it out by trial and error. The next thing I did was write a post that addressed my specific problem. I’m pretty sure I’m the first person on the internet to address this topic with a how-to guide.
Make a Plan
What I do next is plan my website to be the very best website in the world on that topic. I do not want to just repeat what everyone else has done by creating a list of 50 topics and then writing short, 500 word articles that attack search keywords. Instead, I will research my topic to death and get a solid understanding of what the niche is all about.
I will not only plan all the basic content made for search keywords, but I will also address any information deficiencies related to my topic. My plan is to provide people with the most in-depth information possible regarding that niche and all sub-niches. The goal is to become the most respected authority on that niche.
Become an Authority
You become an authority in a niche by providing people with information that they can actually use. You do not become an authority by writing a thousand articles and purchasing a thousand links for a temporary boost in the SERPs. Cheap content and bulk link purchases are merely shortcuts that get your website in front of lots of eyes.
Although it’s nice to get your content in front of lots of eyes, success is fleeting when you go that route. The next Google algorithm update will destroy your traffic and nobody will remember who you are. When you become a genuine authority, people remember you, bookmark you and come back on their own.
Additionally, an authority website builds links naturally. When you become recognized as someone who provides legitimate information, people share you with their friends. They send e-mails with links to your website, they link to you on discussion forums and they link to you on their personal blogs.
Make Your Website Sticky
A sticky website is a website that keeps visitors hanging around for extended periods of time and encourages visitors to come again in the future. There are several ways you can make your website sticky.
First, make sure your content is all high quality. A website full of cheesy content that you wrote just to rank for keywords will not encourage people to stick around long or return again in the future. The only time it’s good to send visitors off quickly is if they came looking for a product recommendation and you sent them off to buy that product via an affiliate link on your site.
It also helps to update your website regularly with great information. If you’re always posting something new and interesting, people have a reason to bookmark your site and return again later. Every visitor that bookmarks your website is one more visitor that you don’t have to attract via Google.
Next, create value-added tools for your visitors. Help your visitors solve a problem or get something done. If your website talks about coupons, create some kind of comparison app, a discount calculator or sharing tool. Basically, go back to the research phase and help your visitors overcome information deficiencies with your website tools.
I will admit right now that social marketing is my biggest weak point. I have a hard time getting excited about Facebook pages, Tweets and Google+ circles. But I will admit that being social is a big bonus. Not only do positive social signals help you rank well in search engines, but they also show your readers that you are a real person.
People love it when they can ask questions to a webmaster directly and get responses. You will notice certain big names on Twitter will often personally reply to Tweets. Visitors love it when they can contact a big name and get a personal response.
Open your website up to comments as well. This acts as both a social engagement and a “sticky” factor. Live discussions give your visitors a reason to return and to recommend your website to other people. It is also huge when the owner of the website takes the time to personally respond to comments.
Is It All Worth It?
It takes considerable effort to become an authority website in any niche. In the end, it’s worth it because your website lasts longer and you can make money for a long time. Cheap, fast websites don’t have the staying power that large, authority websites have.
On the other hand, I have nothing against quick and cheap websites. Sometimes quick and cheap websites work perfectly well. These websites don’t last forever, but they’re easy to build and can make you a quick profit. It’s a matter of return on investment (ROI). An authority website is only worth all that trouble if it’s in a high paying, worthwhile niche. And finding high-paying niches is a topic that we will have to cover another day.
About the Author: Wes Burn is an internet marketer and freelance writer. His latest work is on the website OnlineFileStorage.com.