How does SEO work to benefit niche sites?

To firstly understand the steps required to enhance your niche site’s search engine optimisation (SEO) performance, it is vital to appreciate why the practice matters to begin with. For many domain owners who are in charge of a business that deals with a niche subject, there can be confusion, hesitancy or sheer ignorance when it comes to all things SEO.

Often pushed aside or handed to a third party to deal with on a freelancing basis, it can be difficult to drum up enthusiasm for a project to increase Google visibility for a mobile dog washing service situated in Sydney’s southern suburbs. While that might appear to be a far fetched example with little competition, it will be the mobile dog wash that swoops in with clever SEO techniques that ends up taking business away in the medium to long-term.

How Does SEO Work for Niche Sites?

Competition between small and big business may come down to the optimisation of niche pages. Photo: Photosvit, Bigstock

The other reality that niche business owners overlook is the switch of big department stores and brands who will garner their own pages to suit a particular need. For those out and about in Campbelltown, their online café search will see a mixture of local, community-based outlets like Seta’s Café mixed with larger franchise chains including Jamaica Blue and The Coffee Club.

Given that search engines will rank individual pages rather than complete domains, this places a greater emphasis on niche operations to get their SEO house in order. The benefits clearly outweigh the negatives, but it requires a high degree of diligence, patience and application to transform your low-volume exposure to a standing that cannot be shaken by a newcomer to the scene.

Let us take a moment to run through the intrinsic value of SEO to the niche website market, including the steps necessary to make that a reality.

Enhances your keyword suitability

The central aspect of SEO that applies to niche markets across all industries comes down to keywords. The more specific the keywords utilised in an online marketing strategy, the smaller the audience is likely to be.

The best method is to tap into Google’s Keyword Planner to gain a greater understanding of what terms you are using, what options are available and which words you are better off ditching altogether. Terms will be ranked on competition and rated on a pricing scale, placing a premium on keywords that score high traffic.

By undertaking this crucial aspect of SEO for your niche operation, you can finally find a balance between making your website too specific for visitors to find you, or too generic to be lost amid bigger fish in the marketplace.

Should a new family-owned grocery shop look to open up in the heart of Sydney’s east in Bondi, they could opt for a series of options with their keywords. While initially settling for “Bondi grocery,” or “Bondi grocery store,” they could find that “Bondi fruit and vegetables” might eliminate some stronger competition from the likes of major outlets IGA and Woolworths.

Sifting through this equation will take time and regular updating to keep on top of your performance, but mastering the art of the keyword is priority number one when it comes to your niche site’s online visibility.

Makes your site mobile-friendly

How Does SEO Work for Niche Sites?

It’s even more important for niche sites to be mobile friendly. Photo: AAW, Bigstock

In 2018, it is no longer acceptable to plead ignorance on the importance of mobile compatibility to your website. Even in the most niche of niche markets that have little to no competition, domains that fail to load properly or lag on any metric will see business leave in droves as revenue dissipates.

By undertaking an extensive SEO process, you will see mobile compatibility taken care of as search engines delight in your optimisation to smartphone and tablet users.

Domain owners can discover a litany of free and paid-for applications online, yet the most common tool to take advantage of lies with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This platform will flag down any page loading issues, content problems or general departments that hamper performance on these devices.

Ignore this field at your peril because mobile use is only going to venture skywards in the near future. According to Statista, there will be approximately 20 million mobile users within Australia by the year 2019, making it paramount for all businesses from all niches to have this segment ticked.

Offers unique and engaging content

A fundamental element of optimising search engine performance revolves around the need of quality content. This applies across the board for all sites from all niches, only changing the dynamic for those sub-niches who have had to alter their keyword strategy as a step one.

Take anything that is placed on your website, or linked to your website, as a piece of content that fits into your grand strategy. All of the following will be influential elements at play:

  • Blog/article posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Image galleries
  • Audio files/podcasts
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • News
  • Q&As
  • Webinars
  • EBooks
  • Interviews
  • Illustrations
  • GIFs, memes and social media posts

Some content will be relevant to your On-Page SEO strategy while others like social media accounts will delve with Off-Page SEO relevance. Whatever form you take, it is imperative for a small market niche to embrace varied content that is well crafted, creative and on message to the keywords you have selected.

The same challenge arrives for brands that want to score big with SEO, even though their product is considered “boring” or “plain” by public standards. Accountancy firms and water bottle providers have to find new and innovative ways to break into the online market, just like the niche operations do. Ensuring that a clear and concise content strategy is implemented is a necessity by drawing in new eyeballs to your domain and keeping those current visitors engaged and willing to share the message on your behalf.

Distills Geo-location data to finite detail

Among all the data you can glean from a Google Analytics program, niche sites will often require a local presence to gain genuine traction in the market. This is not the case exclusively, with many niche sites like a basketball club’s supporter site or online antique furniture store not having to develop their entire strategy around a city or regional identity entirely.

Yet a common thread with successful niche sites that utilise the power of local SEO is tapping into an audience who arrive from a specific location or set of locations.

So should you manage to discover exactly where your visitors are arriving from in droves, it is recommended that you tap into anyone of the Google Map API functions. This JavaScript platform allows you to embed an interactive map, usually placed in the contact tab for websites.

If a large portion of your audience is searching for a sports store in Parramatta in Sydney’s west, then a pinned Google Map location in that region will only increase your SEO visibility in that market.

Provides the user with crucial market research knowledge

How Does SEO Work for Niche Sites?

Using SEO on niche sites will help them to get better information on their audience. Photo: FreedomTumz, Bigstock

Tapping into the behaviour of your visitors and audience can be a fantastic means of gaining a leg up on the competition. With the aid and assistance of a free software tool like Google Analytics, you begin to develop insights into their patterns and tastes.

This enables you to then cater your niche site around those preferences to ensure they stay on the site longer, have a healthier click-through rate for landing pages and online purchases, and drive more traffic to the site as a result.

Do not feel boxed in to Google Analytics though, because there are other options out there on the web to check trends and habits by visitors:

  • Clicky
  • Matomo
  • KISSmetrics
  • Clicktale
  • Piwik
  • CrazyEgg
  • CloudFlare

Some of these applications even offer a real time insight into your visitation data, examining how long individuals spend on each page, how much of a video or audio file is engaged with, and how they navigate across the site generally.

Builds link relevance over authority

The final SEO topic we will examine for niche website owners is the activity of link building. What any online marketing expert will inform you is the need to source your material from authoritative and credible domains.

Rather than tying your material in with a random WordPress blog, the consensus is that you are better served with a brand and name that is recognised and respected by Google.

Whilst this is true, for niche sites there is a small caveat that must be addressed – link relevance is more important than the authority of the source itself. Not in ever instance, but if there is debate about which source to include, a niche site is always better off settling for a link that connects to the keyword in question.

For example, a local outlet based in suburban Melbourne who specialise in personalised greeting cards would be advised to provide a hyperlink to a third party that they would engage with like Moonpig than a domain that ranks higher on Google such as Card & Caboodle.

Just because Card & Caboodle are considered a stronger authority in the eyes of Google on the keywords “greeting cards Melbourne,” it does not mean they have any connection to the personalised card market in Victoria.

A link with this company will also leverage the potential to develop a professional connection to network your contacts. Closely related sub-niches are much stronger working in parallel with each other than venturing off on their own steam, helping to bring awareness to the market in general and gain revenue and exposure from that combined effort.

SEO practices across broad and niche subjects alike have many crossovers where the principles are virtually identical. Where the real difference can be seen is in the fields of keyword strategy and link implementation.

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Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.