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Optimize for the niche

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 13:28

Why generalizations in SEO targeting just don't work

(the following is a guest post from - Jon Stephenson)


"The essence of focusing on a niche, finding the place the customer is going to be when they are going to want or need your product and be there to offer it to them"

The industry of SEO has grown and changed in many ways over the last few years, and its only continuing to change at a faster and faster pace. One of the areas that SEO has grown and changed the most is in the niche vertical markets. No longer is it good enough to optimize for "shoes" (244,000,000 results) you now must optimize for "womens Nike running shoes" (829,000 results), another example is my current SEO target of "blinds" (17,800,000 results) VS "faux wood blinds" (828,000 results). This isn’t a bad thing, it allows the users to get to the relevant information they want faster and allows the optimizer to build better content for their pages that focuses on a specific topic.

Niche targeting for SEO

We, the search marketers, have trained our customers to be more specific in how they search. When I started in search I could optimize a page for about 10 different keywords and be happy; it would rank well for all 10 keywords with no problem. Now I don’t optimize for anything less than a 3 word phrase and at max two very closely related phrases per page. The landing page that I work to have indexed gets right to the point and will lead the user straight to the content they are searching for.

I then work to guide them quickly to the goal for that page. If I don’t make it fast and obvious, even ranking in the top spot won't bring in the conversions I want, users will just bounce back to Google and find another listing.



Think key phrases not words

One of the biggest benefits to focusing on longer key-phrases (via stemming and modifiers) is it allows you to get into a niche and get more qualified traffic. Take the example of "Honda" (168,000,000 results). If you are an auto dealer your first thought might be to rank #1 for the term Honda, but you would be wrong. People who search for Honda are not anywhere near the end of the buying cycle, they are people exploring the brand and you have no chance of converting that user into a lead much less a sale.

If you focused your SEO efforts on something much more specific such as "2009 Honda civic" (26,300,000 results) or even better "2009 Honda civic dealer" (4,700,000 results) you will have a better chance of ranking higher plus the people clicking on your link are going to convert at a much better rate because you are targeting the result they are (actually) wanting. T


his is the essence of optimizing for the niche, finding the place the customer is going to be when they want or need your product and be there to offer it to them.


Niche optimization requires specifics

The hardest part about optimizing for the niche is that the further away from the root you get the harder it gets to present yourself as being knowledgeable. If you wanted to optimize for blinds it would be simple to optimize a page for it, not saying the page would rank well, but it would be well optimized.

There wouldn’t be that much research needed all the information could be fairly high level stuff like; types, colors,

  • main brands
  • or popular looks.


But if you wanted to optimize a page for faux wood blinds you're going to have to know more about them and this takes time and resources. You would want to know who else is talking about faux wood blinds and what it is they are saying. You would need to know;

  • details about faux wood
  • what makes it different from say natural wood
  • are there specific manufactures that do or don’t make them?


These are all things you wouldn’t know unless spent the time needed to learn about the blinds and home décor industry, and like any industry it takes time to learn.


Leveraging social media

One of the best ways to start learning a niche is with social media. Social media is such a huge player in all things online nowadays we have a great way to start learning about a niche. People like to talk about things that interest them so if your niche has any traffic potential you will be able to find people talking about it on blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and many other social sites online. Once you have found your audience and started to understand what they are talking about, what they need, you can tailor your pages to meet those needs.

Crowdsourcing for effective targeting


Think about these;

  • If you find people talking about trying to install your product, build a page or set of pages around installation.
  • If there are people worried about your product being bad for the environment, build pages talking about their environmental impact.


Catching on now??


Getting these pages indexed and ranked will draw in the traffic from people in those niches looking for that information. Another benefit from niches is that if the information is good the users will link to it and spread your message for you, and as everyone knows natural links are true SEO gold.


/end transmission


Jon Stevenson

About the author - Jon Stephenson is an SEO consultant working with the gang at Select Shops - You can learn more about him on LinkedIn or follow along with his personal account on Twitter. Jon and I have talked many times on the topic of phrase based SEO and I thought it would be nice to have him on to share his thoughts - thanks a bunch Jon for dropping in and becomming a Guest Rider Allumni!


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