Search engine optimization sounds great on paper, but when put into practice, it’s a bit tougher. Marketing in your specific niche can be slow and painful, especially if you’re just starting from scratch with a new website.
Although it may feel like every keyword already has hundreds of thousands of competitive results, you can still push through the crowd and rise to the top if you understand how to apply SEO fundamentals to your unique niche.
Search is all about supply and demand, and as long as you meet a user’s needs (especially in local marketing), you’ll gain the search traffic.
Local and niche searches make up the large majority of Internet searches (which I’ll cover in more detail later), and you can make a killing if you set up your niche site correctly.
Here’s what you need to know to get started in pushing your website up the search engine ranking pages for your specific niche.
1. Research your niche
According to recent research, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and 75% of users never scroll to page 2.
This is a huge user base that leads to 1.2 trillion (and rising) Google searches every year. Grabbing a piece of that market is going to take some in-depth research.
Researching your niche is a step toward improving your domain and page authority. The more you understand a topic, the more likely you are to be seen as a trusted resource, which helps your SEO efforts.
You should always be keeping an eye on industry trends to know what people are buzzing about these days and cater to those searches. The longer you blog, the more important this will become as eventually you’ll run out of ideas.
When you know your industry inside and out, you have a leg up on the competition because you understand the context within which people are typically searching.
You’ll also understand that while not every search and click lead to a sale, the value you bring as an authoritative voice is a branding opportunity you can’t afford to miss.
2. Broaden your keywords
As mentioned previously on Quick Sprout, long-tail keywords are the key to succeeding with a niche website. While you may not be able to rank well with your new vaping website for the keyword “vaping,” you can rank well for “mango flavored vape juice” or “what oils can be used in vape pens,” or even “what’s the best temperature to vape vegetable glycerin.”
While people looking for general vape information or products may not see you, people specifically looking for the best mango VG-based ejuice will see you.
Long-tail keywords have much smaller search volumes than generic ones, but ranking well on them builds your overall web profile and search rankings for other related terms. It’s also important to know that long-tail keywords make up about 70% of all searches anyway.
Using long-tail keywords lets you really shine in areas where people are actually searching.
For example, if you have a black 10-speed beach cruiser, you may draw interest from people looking for bicycles, but you’ll draw much higher interest from people looking specifically for beach cruisers, black bicycles, and a black 10-speed beach cruiser.
Targeting long-tail keywords makes your site visible in the “minor league” search terms that can make all the difference in your site’s brand recognition, traffic, and ultimate ROI.
3. Place strategic links
Quality backlinks with descriptive anchor text placed on authoritative sites is the easiest and most efficient way to raise your website’s search engine rankings.
Here’s a breakdown of the top search signals so you can see how links fit into the equation:
The more links you can get placed in a non-spammy way on popular sites in your industry (or the mainstream media, academic, and government web pages), the higher your page will rank on search engines.
It’s a two-fold benefit: these links drive search traffic as well as direct referral traffic from those who click the links.
Blogging on your website and guest-posting on others are the best ways to get these backlinks, although commenting on forums and blog articles, doing social media promotion, and simply creating great material with sourced statistics and images helps as well.
Some businesses find success hiring an external PR agency to help promote their brand and business on external sites. These agencies often work with social media influencers, bloggers, journalists, and industry professionals to get your business in front of the right people and build a buzz.
Don’t be afraid to contact local outlets, organizations, and businesses in your surrounding area to have your business featured with a possible link on their web properties.
4. Get listed on local sites
Search engines aren’t the only places driving traffic online, especially in today’s age of mobile devices.
Mapping sites such as Mapquest and Google/Apple Maps, business rating sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, and Angie’s List, and social media platforms such as Foursquare and Facebook are all important places to list your business on.
Registering on these sites gives your business credibility and presents you to users who may prefer using niche searching techniques over search engines, which is especially true of travelers.
If you have a business with a web presence, these sites help you show off great reviews, great products, and information about your business and its offerings. It also allows you to be visible in searches even if your search ranking is low otherwise.
Your domain authority on a new site is probably non-existent, but Yelp is an authoritative site, so your Yelp profile may outrank your website for certain keywords. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you have links to your website on all your business listings.
5. Start a blog
Once you have everything set up on your account, you’ll still need a separate landing page for each long-tail keyword you researched. The same page is unlikely to rank highly for every keyword, so you’ll need to have a blog to have pages with a variety of keywords.
I say it constantly, but I’m a huge advocate of blogging, and I’m not the only one. Sixty-four percent of PR and marketing pros are looking for ways to increase content marketing and blogging efforts this year alone.
With a 1500- to 2000-word blog posts on each specific search term, you are creating a relevant landing page for that term. In the vaping example above, “how to make your own mango ejuice,” “vape juice ingredients,” and “the optimal vape voltage and temperature settings” would make excellent blog posts to capture the long-tail keywords.
These blog posts are much more likely to rank well on Google for nearly every permutation of the searches than an e-commerce page would unless, of course, you’re searching for “cheap ejuice for sale.”
Yoast SEO is a great WordPress plugin that can scan your pages and posts for readability, keyword richness, and other SEO signals to determine how optimized each page is.
6. Research the competition
Competition is the driving force for entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed in our society. You can’t know how well you’re doing unless you understand how well the competition is doing. Here’s a quick breakdown of a basic competitive analysis tool.
With online tools, such as SEMRush, you can also check a competitor’s page ranking for various keywords and learn which domains they got backlinks on. What you learn may either surprise you or provide data to back up what you already assumed.
That type of data lets you know where you need backlinks and which terms you may be able to undercut the competition on.
This graphic illustration of Porter’s 5 Forces model demonstrates how competition influences every industry and market. Search engine rankings are no different.
The more competition, the more an industry grows, so it’s overall a good thing. In fact, it’s inevitable. No matter what you create, there will be competition.
Knowing your enemy is the first step to defeating it, according to Sun Tzu’s Art of War. For the same reason, wireless providers always reference the size of each other’s LTE networks and coverage areas in their ads.
Successfully reaching the top of search engine results for your particular niche may seem like an impossible dream in this day and age. The Internet has been around for several decades, and you’d be hard pressed to find a search term with only one result (try Googlewhacking if you don’t believe me).
However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a newcomer to dominate a niche. In fact, it happens all the time.
By properly registering your business with all online platforms, optimizing your website’s design, and creating detailed content focused on specific, long-tail keywords, you can rank high on Google search as well.
What search engine optimization tactics do you use to rank your page for specific keywords?