Just How Effective Are Niche Blogs for SEO?
This article is part 3 in an ongoing case study analyzing the impact of content on SEO. In the previous installment, we shared our keyword strategy and analyzed how our keyword usage impacted our search engine rankings in the first seven months of our campaign. In this installment, we examine our decision to focus on a hyper-targeted niche blog to achieve rapid SEO success within a competitive market. If you haven't read the previous installment in our series, you can click here to do so.
Chris ScaliseSupervisor of Editorial / Staff Writer
Let’s say that you just opened an online store to sell your original line of women’s handbags. You know that your handbags are unlike anything that’s currently on the market, but you also know that it’s useless to have a great product if no one can find it.
So you conduct a Google search for “women’s handbags” and quickly realize what you’re up against. Your top-ranked competitors are companies like Amazon, T.J. Maxx, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s. How are you even supposed to compete online with those kinds of mega-enterprises? No matter what you sell, whether it’s handbags, art supplies, or dog-walking services, you’re likely to run into this dilemma.
We certainly encountered this challenge when we began our marketing campaign for ad cetera, inc. After all, the company sells promotional products for businesses, an industry with some 21 million Google competitors. So how is a small but growing online business supposed to stand a chance in such a deep sea of established competition? Our approach to this David & Goliath conundrum was simple: cater to niche markets.
Our Niche Market Strategy
When we built our blog for ad cetera, we knew there was no way we would rank for “promotional items” or “promotional products” right out of the gate. So we started with a bit of brainstorming. We looked at the types of items that ad cetera had for sale, and we considered some key questions:
- Who is looking for these types of items?
- Who is going to trade shows (a popular setting for promotional giveaways)?
- What types of businesses benefit most from promotional items?
- What types of occasions warrant promotional giveaways?
We thought through these questions and ultimately fine-tuned our focus, emphasizing various types of medical practices and even event/holiday niches. Although it might sound like we were limiting ourselves, this approach has resulted in improved traffic — not just in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality. Not only did it afford us a better chance of ranking, but it ensured that the visitors we did attract were potential customers.
Think of it like fishing. If you fish with a pole, you’ll only catch one fish at a time, but you know you’re always getting a live fish. If you fish with a net, you’ll have a wider reach, but you’ll likely collect a lot of old shoes, tin cans and seaweed. The fishing-pole approach is highly effective for small businesses looking to gain an advantage in the online marketplace.
Here are the some of the primary niche markets we’ve targeted, based on our market research:
- Promotional items for dentists
- Promotional items for therapists
- Promotional items for holidays
- Promotional items for special events
For example, we produced one blog article entitled “Celebrating the New Year with perfect promotional gifts.” This piece allowed us to target businesses specifically seeking promotional items for the New Year holiday. Once a holiday has come and gone, we look to post for the next holiday or on another relevant topic.
Our New Year’s article was written with a clear niche focus, but was it successful?
Our Initial Results
Our niche content has yielded surprisingly positive results within a matter of weeks. For example, our “New Year’s” article quickly ranked for the keyword phrase “new year promotional items.” It took only four weeks to see SEO results. However, since we posted the “New Year’s” content less than two weeks prior to the holiday, our SEO results were a little late to the party.
For an earlier blog post content targeting dental practices, we achieved rankings for keywords like “dental office promotional items” and “dental promo items.”
Our niche keywords continued to rank and generate traffic for both the ad cetera blog and the ad cetera retail site for months after their initial use.
What We’ve Learned
There’s a saying in SEO circles: search engines reward the sites that answer searchers’ questions. In other words, if you can give people the best and most satisfying answer possible to their queries, the search engines are quickly going to pick up on the fact that you’re providing relevant content and rank your site higher. That’s where niche targeting comes in. The closer you can get to providing a precise solution, the more likely you are to connect with consumers and resonate with search engines.
When comparing the rankings and performance data from all of our blog articles, we’ve found that the most specific and targeted articles consistently outperform the rest. Generalized listicles about promotional items tend to inspire little enthusiasm even when they’re well-written and highly detailed. On the other hand, articles with a specific niche focus tend to perform really well, appearing on Google’s radar and achieving competitive and valuable rankings within a matter of weeks. However, we’ve also learned that we need to be proactive in planning our content strategy out in advance to ensure that our holiday posts will rank prior to the date and not after. Having your blog about “the best Christmas gifts to buy for your coworkers” rank #1 does you no good if everyone has already completed their shopping.
So to refer back to our previous example, if you’re struggling to compete with Macy’s and Amazon in the women’s handbag industry, consider how you might narrow your focus and target a smaller but more receptive audience with fewer competitors in your way. For instance, there’s plenty of demand for women’s vegan and cruelty-free handbags, women’s handcrafted handbags, and women’s vintage-style handbags.
Some key takeaways:
- Sometimes, fishing with a pole is far more effective than fishing with a net. Don’t obsess in vain over broad topics and industries when you can make headway far more quickly and easily in niche markets.
- When choosing your niche markets, ask the important questions about the types of people who might be searching for your product or service. Who are they? What are they specifically looking for? What are their behaviors and preferences as consumers?
- SEO is all about trying to answer searchers’ questions. If you give them the best answers to their queries, the search engines will take notice and reward you accordingly.
- Plan your content strategy well in advance to allow for enough time before relevant dates for your content to rank.
In our next installment, we’re going to discuss the more technical aspects of our SEO and marketing campaign, including the adjustments we made to our hosting provider and the lessons we learned from Google Analytics. Stay with us, and find out if our efforts were successful.
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