This week we have a guest contributor Jodie to give us some helpful info about how to effectively use SEO specifically for small niche businesses such as selling handmade soap & toiletries.
Jodie is a professional freelance writer and editor. She uses her expertise in the Social Sciences (MSc BA Cantab) to shed new light on everyday issues. She loves to translate dense material into information everyone can access and explores design, branding and market psychology, as well as scientific and parenting topics.
The internet is full of niche businesses. It stands as testament to all the weird and wonderful things we’re into.
The magic of websites is that they allow us to communicate with people who are interested in the same things we are, whether they be down the road or on the other side of the planet. And, unlike a traditional bricks-and-mortar, high-street shop, an online business has a much wider reach.
Whether your passion is sculpting garden gnomes from scratch, offering training advice for the owners of wayward kittens, or custom-designing rubber bands, you’re going to want to attract the right consumers to your online space.
By serving an unconventional audience, you have a few advantages over other businesses:
- You’re operating in a less crowded marketplace (less competition)
- You’re not fighting with the big guns over keywords (how many companies need to rank for ‘very bad kitty’?)
- You’re always going to stand out, just by virtue of what you do
But you shouldn’t kick back and get complacent just yet. Bear in mind that, while the marketplace might be uncrowded, your potential pool of customers is also a lot smaller.
So, how do you get yourself and your business in front of the right audience for your niche?
You adopt an SEO strategy tailored to your needs. Here are five of the best tips to help you expand the reach of your niche business and make the most of the quirky products and services you have to offer.
Research Your Audience
It’s impossible to devise an effective SEO strategy for any kind of business without first understanding your potential customer base. Best practice in business suggests that success comes from going where the people are. To do that, you need to know where that is.
When you’re running a niche business, putting the time and effort into this market research is even more important.
Your goal is to tailor your approach to suit your customer’s preferences and needs.
- Research the keywords they are using to find your products or services by using free tools like Google Trends and Wordtracker Scout
- Find your competitors and see how they are marketing themselves
- Use Google Analytics to understand market research metrics related to your specialism
- Get a view of your own website’s key numbers (page view, unique visits, etc.), many website builders incorporate their own analytics tools
Use Long-Tail Keywords
Once you’ve determined your potential customer’s habits, you need to research some long-tail keywords. These are keywords that contain at least three words and are used to target niche audiences because they can express more specific and refined concepts.
Because they’re more specific, there’s less competition for them. This means it’s easier for a business to rank higher by targeting these phrases. If your business is very niche, any customers searching for your products and services are likely to use long-tail search terms to find you.
To find relevant long-tail keywords, you can:
- Use Google Suggest – simply start typing a word or two related to your business and see what Google suggests as the next most likely words
- Investigate Google’s ‘related searches’ function
- Use the broadest range of keyword search tools (in addition to the above, have a look at YouTube’s keyword tool and Twitter Search)
Network With Your Competitors
When you have a very niche business, you might be fooled into thinking that there’s nobody else out there to compete with. However, if you look around, you’re almost certainly going to find a few competitors.
There are so many businesses in the global, online market that you’re sure to find some working in your niche. While you might think direct competition is the best way forward, it can be counterproductive when you’re in a small circle.
Niche interests tend to build communities of dedicated followers. So being the bull in the room is going to stand you out as a bad egg. Collaboration actually works best for everyone and opens up your business to a greater audience. You could:
- Contact your competitors on social media
- Follow their blogs and leave comments for them to read
The benefit of networking is securing backlinks to your site. These links from other websites to yours are the internet’s version of word-of-mouth and increase your SEO because it improves your web authority in the eyes of search engines. Web authority is a key ranking factor.
Harnessing Social Media
To bring in those backlinks, you’re going to need to publish online content. We’re talking writing engaging blogs, releasing helpful videos, discussing your industry on podcasts or posting photos to Instagram.
When your work is niche, you have to make a choice:
- Only talk about things within your niche which, while satisfying, limits your audience and therefore potential for backlinks to improve your SEO
- Branch out a little and, while feeling a bit of a sell-out, create content somewhat related to your niche but more accessible to a wider audience, thereby increasing your chance of getting backlinks and potentially skyrocketing your SEO
The best approach from an SEO-building point of view is to find people of influence in related niches or industries and publish some content directed at them, quoting them, or otherwise aimed at interacting with them.
This kind of influencer targeting has been shown to successfully encourage backlinks. Everyone likes to feel they’re doing something good enough to get noticed.
So, while your true passion might be vintage glass animals or antique model aircraft, to boost your SEO, you’re going to need to channel that creativity and passion into strategic thinking. But, in the end, putting tips like these into practice is what’s going to bring in paying customers and support your bizarre business venture long into the future.
We hope you enjoyed Jodie’s wise words here and can apply them to your own small business. If you have a topic that you think is useful & informative for the Soap Making community, please get in touch via email and we can discuss your ideas: email@example.com