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We’re going to do market research FIRST. Not a general “I want to help people lose weight” kind of niche, but an “I help busy successful banking executives stay in the best shape of their lives.”
See the difference?
Any general market you choose should meet certain simple criteria before you try and niche down further and create a winning positioning statement.
Are there at least a few hundred people actively searching for what you’re doing? Are there thousands of searches going on right now?
Weight loss is an evergreen niche that gets millions of searches a month across its different verticals.
You can easily get this information using tools like Keyword finder and Google keyword planner (GKP).
Is your market irrationally passionate about the solutions you’re offering? Stamp collectors may have an irrational passion about novel or legacy stamps. The only problem is, there may not be enough demand for the type of products you’re creating to make an investment worthwhile.
Things like hair care, weight loss, making money, fashion, productivity, relationships, and so on, are markets that fit these criteria perfectly.
Are people already selling to this market? That’ll be pretty easy to determine with a quick search using your favorite search engine; Google. Something like keyword + “products” or keyword + “services” will let you know if people are already spending money.
Look at the price points. I’d hate for you to get into a niche where people don’t pay for anything, but has a lot of interest.
E.G. how to tie a tie, a lot of people search for it, but I sure as hell wouldn’t buy a course teaching me how to tie a knot 32 different ways.
Are the products all priced at $10 or are some of them thousands of dollars?
The internet marketing (IM) niche has everything in between from a $5 dollar Ebooks to courses that can cost you over $5,000.
This is where it gets fun. Can you upsell your customers on related products?
For example, if you were to land on my site and liked a $10 dollar Ebook I was selling, is there an opportunity for me to upsell you into a training course on a related product?
Is there an opportunity for me to ask you to join my monthly mastermind group?
Can I cross sell you, upsell you, and down sell you all in a days work?
This is where the majority of your profits come from when you jump in a niche; it’s not from your $47 products that people can buy without a second thought.
It’s from your backend where you can sell products for over $200 dollars to people who have already bought from you and trust you. ($200 is the most people can comfortably spend without having to talk to a real person).
Can you get a hold of them because they type certain phrases in Google, attend specific conferences, read certain blogs, and have subscriptions to particular magazines?
This means you can advertise in highly specific mediums and maximize your ROI (return on investment).
Ok, you’ve validated the market you’re targeting with the five criteria I mentioned. Now it’s time to drill down a little further and choose a segment of that market you’re going to be working with.
Or were you planning on competing with Jenny Craig directly? Good Luck
Keyword research can be very tedious and time consuming at times, but when you do it right, you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
There are two major factors to consider when doing keyword research.
Your keywords have a search volume of between 1000-3000 daily searches.
For choosing a particular segment to market to, that volume should be at least 100 searches a day for the main keyword or group of keywords you’re going to be targeting.
(Note: I’m referring to search volumes for particular keywords because this is an easy metric to come by and will give you a general idea of demand for your services).
This is suuuuper important, you want to know how competitive your market is before you jump in so you can decide if you’re ready to put in the time and energy required to make your business a success.
It;s better to start with a clear idea of what you’re getting into before spending a single red cent.
Now, on to the research.
I use a number of tools for this which are as follows.
Google Keyword Planner
Gives you the estimated search volumes for your keywords ± 100%
A competitive analysis tool that gives you an idea of sites linking to other websites in your target niche. I use it to look at backlink profile, website organic rankings, and to find other sites I can strike up a partnership within my niche
(It can also shed light on sneaky backlink practices of your competition).
Another Competitive analysis tool like Ahrefs. They have proprietary metrics called Citation flow and Trust flow that help you gauge the strength and authority of sites in the niche you’re targeting.
A competitive analysis tool that allows you to look at the keywords your competition has ranking in the search engines. A nice feature I like to use is the paid search research tool.
It allows you to determine profitable keywords you can target for your marketing campaigns.
This tool gives you insights into where the traffic from your competition is coming from and their main referral sources. a great way to uncover hidden gems as far as partnerships and advertising opportunities are concerned.
Doing the Research
Instead of giving you too much theory, let’s take a look at choosing a niche in the wild.
For this, I’m going to be using the main keyword “Hair Care” and niche down until I find something profitable without too much competition.
The starting point is the GKP, just type the major keyword “hair care” into the search box and get started.
Hair care has an average of over 1.5 million searches across the many verticals so it’s obviously in high demand (anything for beatification is always in high demand, mass media has been doing it for the last 100 years).
Let’s type it into a normal Google search result to see what the competition looks like.
Looking at the organic results that appear, targeting hair care alone would be putting me up against very established brands that have huge advertising, content creation, and SEO budgets. Not somewhere I’d want to go for a start.
Let’s drill down into the different verticals to see how many niches we can look at targeting.
Wow, there are a lot of promising keyword groups to look at here. I highlighted a few I found interesting.
For example, in the hair loss niche for men you can sell products that reverse hair loss. I’m getting excited thinking about all the possibilities for an enterprising entrepreneur.
I want to drill down into the natural hair product niche, my younger sister has been an advocate of this stuff for years and I know she spends hundreds of dollars on her hair care products.
Looking at the organic results for natural hair products, the websites are not as established leaving room for an upstart like me to make a mark.
At this point, I’ll research all the websites on the first page individually.
I’m going to be looking at their value propositions, the pain points they address, how they position their products, pricing points, target audience, demographics, built in motivation triggers, etc.
First, I want to look at some of the homepages of the sites that came up on the first page of Google for the keyword “natural hair products”
This one is an Ecommerce store. They don’t add much extra value apart from their products. No tutorials, no blog, and no forum. No Tribe
Mizani does a much better job. Not only do they have striking imagery, they have a newsletter, blog, tutorials, and other ways to engage with their audience.
Black Naps is primarily a community and they also sell products to their visitors. Their audience trusts them to give them the right advice about natural hair care and the best products to choose.
As I’m going through the different sites in my prospective niche, I’m taking notes on anything that stands out and how I can improve and differentiate from them.
Do the same with any niche you’re targeting.
I’m going to dive right in and start researching blacknaps.org.
The starting point is Similar Web. It’s one thing to see how many people are searching for a key term in the Google Keyword Planner, but it’s another thing to see how many people are actually visiting the websites in question.
Last month, they had over fifty-five thousand visitors (Similar web is not 100% accurate). This is great because with a little work and concentrated effort you’ll be able to get even more visitors.
Now, I want to look at the source of all those visitors
A huge percentage of their traffic comes from the search engines which lets me know this industry relies a lot on SEO. Whether natural or contrived, I have no idea until I drill down further.
It also lets me know where I can take advantage of traffic sources the competition is neglecting.
The Domain authority (DA) and Page authority (PA) are metrics that gauge the likelihood of a website appearing on the first page of the SERPs (search engine Rankings Page).
You can do a quick Google search to find out more information on it. A rule of thumb is to target niches with websites having a PA and DA of 50 or less.
Black naps has Moz metrics I feel confident I can win out over.
Now, I want to take a look at Majestic.
Majestic has metrics called Trust flow and Citation flow that let you know the strength and authority of a website. The closer to a 1:1 ratio a website is, the better.
Blacknaps has a ratio of about 1:3 which shows they have a lot of room for improvement. Good news for me.
I also want to look at their backlinks to find more related sites in the niche and any partnership opportunities.
These are just the first four and I’ll spend a few minutes checking them out individually. I’ll look for their value propositions and website messaging as a whole. This’ll give me a better understanding of what works in this niche.
After cruising through majestic, I’m going to play with Ahrefs.
Ahrefs has a feature similar to Buzzsumo called top content. It lets you know the content with the most backlinks and shares but specific to the website you’re interested in. It’s an important tool when building out content for your site to create things people are interested in.
I can see their article “Know Your Hair Type” did very well. I can also see this community likes to share on Pinterest more than other social media networks. It would be in my best interest to develop a strong following there.
A content idea that jumps off the page at me is to create an epic guide to “knowing your hair type” with pictures and other media that should do well with the right push.
These organic keywords and top content are a treasure trove of data. It gives me a solid idea of where to apply my keyword efforts and the different long tails to use.
The more research you do, the clearer your idea of the niche becomes. You’ll understand the keyword, content, and marketing strategies at play.
Repeat the process with all ten websites appearing on the first page of Google. Mine them for website messaging, traffic sources, backlink profile, and content ideas.
After doing this, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not you’ll be able to compete in this niche.
Market research is one of the most important steps you can take. It doesn’t need to take years and it doesn’t need to fill you with dread.
Start with a general idea of the niche you’re interested in and drill down until you can find a space large enough to support you, but small enough to allow you to gain traction.
Use this guide to dive deep and figure out what your tribe is actually looking for in the market. You’ll be in great shape because of it.
Let me know what you think in the comments and whether there’s anything you’d like to add.