How to find a blogging niche...
Without a doubt that’s the most critical question you face when starting a new blog.
How you define your blogging niche is going to determine whether your blog is able to build a viable audience, whether your blog is profitable, and how long it takes for your blog to succeed.
- 1. So What Is a Blogging Niche Anyway?
- 2. Advantages of a Niche
- 3. How To Find a Blogging Niche – Passion
- 4. How To Find a Blogging Niche – Profitability
- 5. Keyword Research for a Blogging Niche – Two Methods
- 6. Keyword Research For a Blogging Niche - My Approach
- 7. Finding a Niche Within a Niche
Not long ago a reader told me that she was starting a blog in a particular niche.
She added that she would be aiming it at over 50s.
Her daughter was horrified: "But Mum, that's too narrow - think of all the people you'll be losing".
It's a perfectly natural response.
But the opposite is true:
The more focused you are, the quicker you find an audience and the faster you build your blog.
1. So What Is a Blogging Niche Anyway?
Very simply, a blogging niche is a niche that appeals to a subset of a broader market.
Here are some examples:
- Pet Care > Bird Care > Budgerigar Care
- Exercises > Pilates > Pilates for People with Back Injuries
- Guitars > Electric Guitars > Cheap Electric Guitars
- Coffee > Filter Coffee > Organic Filter Coffee
- Baking > Cakes > Cake Decorating
- Gardening > Cold Climate Gardening
- Gardening > Container Gardening
- Travel > Frugal Travel
- Fitness > Fitness for Nerds
- Budgeting > Home Budgeting > Home Budgeting for Time Strapped Mums
To get ideas for your blogging niche try using an online niche research tool, such as Wordstream’s free Keyword Niche Finder.
It gives you 30 free searches, so that should be enough to get you going:
Type in your main or ‘head’ keyword and then just go through the long tail variations until you find a likely niche:
2. Advantages of a Niche
The first and most important advantage of a well-defined blogging niche is that it helps you build an audience.
Your blog needs to be sufficiently narrow that when a certain section of the market arrives at your home page, they feel that your blog is written for them.
If your focus is too broad, you won’t appeal to anyone in particular. People arriving at your blog won’t be sure if you’re talking to them or to someone else.
As a rule of thumb, if the topic of your blog can be described in one or two words, you’ve gone too broad.
For example, if your market is ‘watches’ rather than ‘waterproof watches for extreme sports’ then your market is too large and your focus is to broad.
When you’re starting out it seems risky to take a narrow focus. But the fact is, sites that try to cater to everyone end up struggling to find a dedicated audience.
Why is this?
Because people go on to a search engine for only one reason: to solve a problem. And the narrower your focus, the more likely it is that your blog is solving a specific problem.
But it’s not just humans who respond better to blogs with a clearly defined niche…the search engines do as well.
It’s to do with topic modeling, which is a new way that Google is understanding and ranking content.
Until very recently the search engines couldn't read and understand the content of a web page.
They had to rely on humans to understand the content of a web page. And that's why backlinks became so important.
The search engines figured that the more backlinks a web page had, the more relevant it was and the more authority it had within it's niche.
The page with the most high quality backlinks got ranked highest.
But that's all changing...
With Latent Semantic Indexing (a technology that allows search engines to understand context) Google is able to make it's own assessment of the topical relevance of your page. It doesn't need backlinks anymore.
Topical authority applies not just to individual web pages but also to the entire website.
And that's why having a well-defined blogging niche is so important.
If you can show Google that you've covered every aspect of the topic of lemons, Google will assign high topical authority to your website. You'll find your pages ranking very high for search queries related to lemons, even if you don't have any backlinks.
But if your website is about apples, oranges, and lemons, it's going to be much harder for you to get that topical authority, because you're spread too thin.
So a well-defined niche (‘waterproof watches for extreme sports’) will get you a higher score for topical authority than a loosely defined niche (‘watches’).
To sum up:
A well-defined niche will build your human audience faster than an ill-defined niche because your topic is clear and people interested in that topic feel a strong connection to you and your content.
At the same time, a well-defined niche will result in higher search engine rankings because the search engines will view your website as an authority on that particular topic.
3. How To Find a Blogging Niche – Passion
There’s an old debate about whether you should blog about your passion or whether you should blog for profit.
Some people say that you find your niche at the intersection of passion, knowledge and revenue potential.
The naysayers point out that just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean there’s a market for it. They argue that if you’re blogging for a living, you need to take a hard headed look at where the profits are.
While both arguments have their merits, here are two very good reasons you should choose a blogging niche that you’re passionate about:
- Blogging is hard work and it can take years before a blog takes off and becomes financially successful - passion will keep you motivated when success is still a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.
- If you’re not passionate about your niche, it will show through in your writing. How will you motivate people to come back to your blog again and again and sign up for your newsletter if you yourself are not deeply motivated about your topic?
4. How To Find a Blogging Niche – Profitability
One way to find out if your niche is profitable is to do some keyword research.
You’ll need paid a keyword research tool for this, one that inlcudes CPC (cost per click) as one if its metrics.
Type in about 10 keywords associated with your niche. If those keywords have CPC of at least a few dollars, then there’s money to be made in that niche.
If you don’t have access to a keyword research tool, here are some other ways to find out if your proposed niche is profitable:
- Go to a newsagent and browse through the magazine stand. See if there’s a magazine dedicated to your niche – publishing is an expensive business and magazines only exist in niches where they can sell advertising.
- Type your niche keywords into Google and notice if there are any paid ads in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If there are, it’s a sure sign there are profits to be made in that niche.
- Go to Amazon and type in a few keywords associated with your proposed niche. Click on the products that come up and see if they have reviews. Every review represents up to 1000 actual customers.
- If your niche is in the digital sector, go to ClickBank Marketplace and click on the product category that most closely matches your niche. Then sort the products by ‘Gravity’. This is a ClickBank algorithm that indicates how many affiliates are currently making sales of a given product. When you sort by gravity, you’ll be seeing the products that are earning the most affiliate commissions.
- Use Google to find out if there are affiliate programs within your proposed niche. Just type in ‘[name of your niche] affiliate programs’ and see what comes up.
- Use Google to see if there are nay blogs within your niche. Type in ‘[name of your niche] best blogs’. If there are existing blogs in your proposed niche, have a look at them and notice how the blogs are monetized (are there ads, affiliate banners etc?).
5. Keyword Research for a Blogging Niche – Two Methods
When it comes to doing keyword research for a new blogging niche, there are three key aspects you need to research:
- Search volume
- Keyword competition
- Overall trends
You can check long-term trends for any given keyword using the free Google Trends.
Note: One advantage of Ahrefs over the other listed keyword research tools is that Ahrefs now offers a metric called 'Clicks Per Search'. This is especially important in researching a blogging niche because not all searches result in clicks. Why? Because Google now presents 'Knowledge Cards' right at the top of the search results. When the information you were searching for is presented in a Google Knowledge Card, you don't need to click through because the information is right there in front of you (try typing in 'donald trump age' and you'll see what I mean). So a keyword may have very high search volume but very low CTR (click through rate). That's where the new Ahrefs metric comes in handy!
The Google Keyword Planner, which was free, used to be the go-to tool for getting search volume and keyword competition figures. But as of June 2016, it’s only available to people with a paid Ad Words account.
So how exactly do you go about researching search volume and competition is a given niche?
In the video below, Rand Fishkin of Moz outlines a detailed process for scoping out a new niche:
Rand's method involves running Adwords campaigns that target keywords in your prospective niche and pointing the ads at various landing pages on your site.
This is the most thorough approach to keyword researching a new niche that I’ve seen. Once completed you’d have a very good idea of the potential of your prospective niche.
But it’s quite a complex process that could take a week or two to complete.
Here’s another approach to doing keyword research in a prospective niche: How to Choose a Profitable Niche
In this example, Brian Clark does keyword research for a potential blog on ‘Mixed Martial Arts’.
He finds that ‘mixed martial arts’ get 352 searches per day. This is a surprisingly low volume, given the media attention mma has received.
But then he digs a bit deeper, looking for semantically related keywords using Wordtrackers Keyword Tool. Now he finds that ‘mma’ and ‘MMA’ have a combined search volume that triples the search volume for ‘mixed martial arts’.
Digging still deeper, Brian finds that a related keyword, ‘UFC’ (stands for ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’) has 9 variations which together add up to 7,098 searches per day!
This is a really useful case study that will show you how to go about finding variations of keywords within a niche.
More importantly, it shows you how to ‘read between the lines’ and use keyword research to understand searcher intent.
This is an important point: researching keywords in a niche is not only about the numbers – it’s also about understanding what people are looking for when they type in their search queries.
6. Keyword Research For a Blogging Niche - My Approach
My own approach to keyword researching a new blogging niche is quite simple - I just take the same keyword research process I use for individual blog posts and expand it. After all, a blogging niche consists of multiple blog posts.
You’ll need a keyword research tool to do this. The one I use is the paid version of KWFinder:
However, KWFinder also has a free version that allows you 5 lookups per 24 hours and 50 Keyword suggestions per search.
So if you spread the research over a week you could get by with the free version.
Very simply, I use KWFinder to find long tail keywords with search volume between 50 and 500 and with keyword difficulty of 39 or less.
I start by typing in the keyword:
Then I apply a filter with the metrics specified above:
KWFinder then gives me all the keywords within that range:
If you can find 20 to 30 long tail keywords that fit those parameters, you have a viable niche.
[My assumption here is that if I can find 20 to 30 viable keywords, there'll be at least double or triple that number].
7. Finding a Niche Within a Niche
Whatever niche you choose, to succeed in that niche you’re going to have to differentiate your blog from the others. You’re going to need to carve out a territory, find a niche within the niche.
This is especially true in competitive niches.
And here’s something to remember:
No matter how competitive the niche, there will always be an angle that no one else has specialized in. There’ll always be a gap in the topic that no one is covering, an approach that no one has taken.
That’s your territory! That’s your niche within a niche.
You can do this in various ways:
- Personality Positioning – using your personality to connect with one particular section of the market
- Use personality amplifiers such as YouTube videos or podcasts
- Do one key thing better than any of the other blogs
- Bring a particular expertise to the niche
- Address a specific audience within the niche
- Solve a specific problem within your niche
- Create a blog with a different look and feel to the others in that niche
Brian Clark calls this process ‘intensifying’ your niche (‘How To Dominate Your Niche’).
He makes the point that you don’t necessarily need to compete directly with existing blogs in that niche. Instead, you can complement them by doing something that they’re not doing.
Finding the right niche for your blog will determine whether your blog succeeds or fails - it's that critical.
Too broad and you’ll never find your target audience. Too narrow and you’ll struggle to get enough traffic.
With topical authority and topic modeling becoming increasingly important in search engine algorithms, finding a well-defined niche is more important than ever.
Most beginners make the mistake of going too broad – as a rule of thumb the more narrow your focus, the quicker you’ll find your target audience.
When choosing your niche, look carefully at search volume, keyword competition and overall trends.
Once you’ve found your niche, study the other blogs in that space and find a way to differentiate your blog. You can think of this as carving out a niche within a niche.
And that’s it – you now have the tools to find the perfect niche for your blog!
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To your success!