Introduction To Niche Research
Welcome to the first module in the niche research tutorial series. In this three part series, you are going to learn everything you need to know about how to find market niches and how to establish that there is money to be made before diving in.
Given that most online marketers seem to find the ‘art’ of discovering profitable niches one of the most difficult to master, the information in this tutorial series will certainly come in useful.
The basic concept of doing business online is a very simple one, one that is no different to doing business in the ‘real world’ of business in your local high street or shopping mall.
You find a group of people who have a problem that needs solving or a question that needs answering. Next, you find or create a product or service that will provide these individuals with the solutions or answers they are looking for. Finally, and most importantly, you must forge a connection with these individuals so that you can put the answer you have in front of them.
In an ideal world, everyone who uses the Internet would have exactly the same problems or difficulties and therefore your product would be attractive to every Internet user. Of course, this scenario is a million miles from reality as quite obviously, Internet users are not all the same.
Every day, there are millions of people logging onto the Internet to find information but every one of them is looking for something that is slightly different.
Nevertheless, you would find that all of these information seekers could be grouped together on several levels.
At the highest or widest level, people will be looking for information in a market. For instance, they might be looking for information about weight loss or how to look after a dog.
Okay, so if you have a weight loss product, you could in theory attempt to connect with every Internet user who is looking for information about losing weight or in the latter example provide appropriate information to those who want to know how to take care of the family pet.
The problem with both of these scenarios is that the weight loss and dog care are both incredibly competitive and packed with marketers try to push their products and services, every one of whom has the ‘best’ solution or answer.
Marketing at this level is therefore strictly for the big players, the businesses and companies who can afford to spend thousands of dollars every day on advertising or those who employ marketing teams that are several hundred strong.
For most marketers who are not in either of these two positions, it is simply unrealistic to attempt to compete at this level.
What you must therefore do is narrow down your target market so that you face less competition. By doing so, you give yourself more chance of putting your message in front of genuine potential prospects in a situation where the competition is not so intense.
For instance, instead of ‘dogs’ at the most generic level, you might target ‘dog behavior training’ which is a narrower market but still one where there are plenty of dog owners looking for information.
In effect, you have narrowed down your dog care target to one sector or niche within the overall marketplace. This is exactly what you need to do if you are to have any realistic chance of putting your sales message in front of potential customers.
In fact, even at this level, there might still be too much competition (we will consider how you analyze the competition and the market later) so you might want to move one level further down to what some marketers call a ‘micro-niche’.
This will be something even more specialized and narrow such as ‘German Shepherd dog training’.
At this level, you are obviously going to find far less people looking for information every day, but the competition will be far less daunting as well.
Moreover, as you narrow your market down, the information people are looking for becomes increasingly specific. If therefore you can create or find a suitable product or service for this market, the match between what you have to offer and what the prospect is looking for is even more clearly defined.
As suggested in the previous section, the narrower your target market becomes (as you move down from ‘market’ level to ‘niche’ and then ‘micro-niches’), the easier it becomes to match what you have to offer with potential customers for your product or service.
There is however another important aspect to this, one that again has a direct relationship to your ability to earn money with your product or service.
If someone is searching the market for details about weight loss or information about how to look after the family dog, you really have very little idea of exactly what they’re doing or what they’re looking for.
For example, someone looking for dog training information could be looking for what ‘dog training’ means (they just arrived from the planet Zorb with an amazing natural ability to use the Internet and read English instantly) or they could be looking for dog training tips, specific ways of exercising their dog and so on.
The bottom line is, the more generically a user searches for information, the less idea you have about exactly what they want or need.
Consequently, even if you could connect with this individual, you have no way of knowing whether the product or service you are recommending has any relevance to them at all.
If however your market niche (or maybe micro-niche) is ‘German Shepherd dog training’, you know exactly what they want or need.
Anyone using a search term like this is obviously looking for information about the best way of training their dog and they are keen to know if there is anything that is breed-specific.
In online parlance, this is a buying term. Anyone who narrows their search down this far obviously wants information specific to training a German Shepherd and the chances are that they are probably keen enough to get what they need to pay for it.
In other words, if you put your ‘German Shepherd dog training’ information in front of people who are looking for exactly this kind of thing, you can be fairly certain that a significant proportion of these individuals will be very interested in what you have to offer. Consequently, as long as the offer is a good one, you will make sales.
The need to establish the degree of commercial intent when you are looking for niche markets is absolutely critical. Fortunately, as you will discover in this tutorial series, finding niches and establishing that the market is not too congested is actually not as difficult as it might first appear.
However, if your niche is full of surfers instead of potential prospects or customers who are both willing and able to spend money on the Internet, then all of your marketing efforts will still put little or no cash in your bank account.
This of course assumes that you have a product or service to sell, and as you may know, there are other ways of making money online like featuring advertising on a website for which you get paid.
In this case, because the site visitor is not expected to spend money, the need to establish that they are willing to spend money is less urgent.
Nevertheless, it still pays to find market niches where Internet users are used to spending money because you ultimately make a lot more when site visitors are willing and able to spend money.
In tutorials two and three in this series, we will investigate many different ways that you can find potential niches.
However, before doing so, we are going to look at how you recognize a potentially profitable niche before diving in.
Many marketers make the mistake of coming up with what appears to be a good niche marketing idea and start to build a site without fully analyzing whether it is a good idea or not. This is not a mistake you want to make as it can obviously be frustrating and a waste of both your time and your money.
Once you have a niche idea which you are thinking of pushing ahead with, these are the questions that you must have positive answers for before doing so:
Let’s consider each of these individual steps one by one.
What level of competition is there?
Continuing with the theme of creating a site that focuses on taking care of the family dog, the first thing to do is confirm what commonsense probably already told you, that ‘dog training’ is more of a market than a niche and therefore way too competitive.
To do this, run a standard Google search for the keyword term that you are looking for, enclosing it into inverted commas (“.”) so that what you find are competitors that represent exact matches.
These are websites, blogs and other content materials that Google has already indexed which are using exactly this keyword phrase, effectively the competition if you decide to pitch in with the same keyword term.
As you can see from this screenshot, there are in excess of 5 million exact matches for ‘dog training’ which is way too many competitors:
When you are marketing online, there are effectively two different ways that you can put your marketing message in front of potential customers for your product or service.
Looking at the previous screenshot, the results on the right-hand side of the page are paid advertising materials placed their through the Google AdWords advertising program.
This is the first option for putting your marketing message in front of potential customers who are looking for dog training materials. As long as you are willing to pay however much it costs to advertise near the top of the page, it is a viable option as well.
At the same time however, most marketers target the natural or organic searches on the left-hand side of the page as these do not cost money.
To have your site featured here on the first results page means that you have to get your site into the top 10 most popular sites that are built around the keyword phrase which you are targeting.
If there are in excess of 5 million competitors, the chances of being able to do this without a lot of experience, and a massive budget, are almost zero. This therefore confirms what we believed in the first place, that ‘dog training’ is not a niche description on which to base your marketing efforts.
You therefore need to find a search term that people use when looking for dog training information which is less competitive but still searched for a reasonable number of times every day or month.
What are Internet users searching for?
Continuing with the dog training scheme, you need to find a more narrowly defined section of the market. To help you to do this, open the free Google AdWords keyword research tool to see how many people are searching for ‘dog training’ related information:
To get the ball rolling, type in your keyword phrase, the ‘captcha’ code and then hit the ‘Get keyword ideas’ button at the bottom of the AdWords tool screen.
This will produce a list of all of the search terms that people have been using when searching Google to find dog training related information over the past year.
The results will be produced in alphabetical order by default, but to make sure that you see the most popular keyword terms, the terms that are most commonly used by searchers, click the ‘Global Monthly Search Volume’ column header as indicated (on the right of the screenshot) to bring the most popular search terms to the top:
This shows that the average number of people who are searching for ‘dog training’ information over the past year has been 2.24 million per month.
As we have already established that there were in excess of 5 million competitors for this phrase, it means that there are two websites for every one search which would not be a good ratio if you were thinking of using this term in your marketing efforts.
Now, this does not mean that they actually searched for ‘dog training’ specifically but that they used a search term which included dog training. For this reason, whatever generic, broad term you use to search within the AdWords tool, it will almost always appear at the very top of the chart.
However, on almost every AdWords keyword results page, there are ‘hidden gems’, search terms where there are a reasonable number of people looking for information where there are not so many sites or content materials.
All you need to do is find them. This is a matter of trial and error.
For example, there is an average of more than 8000 people searching Google for information about ‘German Shepherd dog training’ every month over the past year:
By running an exact match Google search for this keyword term, we can quickly establish that there are only 12,200 competitors for this particular term which is very good:
With a search of this nature, what you are ideally looking for is an exact match search that returns less than 30,000 competing results.
In this case, getting your website onto the first results page (i.e. in the top 10) is going to be something that you can achieve in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.
As you can see, only 12,200 competing results is excellent. What is more, the number one result is an article on a directory site, and user created content of this nature is never too difficult to beat.
Okay, so you have one very good keyword phrase. This is not enough to confirm that a niche where there is money to be made exists. What you would now do is find at least another five or six similar terms using the AdWords keyword tool, although the more keywords terms you can come up with, the better it is.
For example, ‘dog toilet training’ is a term that is searched for 6600 times a month according to the Google statistics which shows 13,500 competitors on an exact match basis:
It is beginning to look like ‘German Shepherd dog training’ is a niche where you can move forward. You therefore need to establish whether there is money being spent in this market and if there is, how likely is it that anyone using this particular term will be willing to spend?
Is there money to be made?
The first and quickest way of establishing whether there is any money being spent in this market is to look at your search results page once again.
If you have plenty of advertisers on the page, it demonstrates that there is money being spent in this niche:
Not only does this suggest that there are advertisers willing to spend money in this market, it also indicates that if you are thinking of building an AdSense ‘German Shepherd dog training’ site, there are enough advertisers to justify doing so.
However, assuming that you are thinking of selling a product or service, the final step in the analysis is to check whether there are products or services available.
What products or services are there?
Assuming that you are not going to create your own product, you need to find something that you can promote as an affiliate. To make this as quick and simple as possible, most online marketers will turn to a digital information product network site like Clickbank to see what is available.
Type your search term into the box on the ‘Marketplace’ page to establish whether there are suitable products available through Clickbank:
This search reveals that there are three information products specifically targeting German Shepherd owners:
What is more, the first product shown on the page is an almost perfect match for exactly what you’re looking for and it also happens to be the product that pays the highest level of commission per sale.
With products that specifically target German shepherd owners, you have the final piece of the jigsaw in place.
This is therefore a niche where there is everything in place to make money.
After completing this tutorial, you should now be fully cognizant with why niche research is so important in terms of your online marketing success. You have also seen how you work through this research process step-by-step.
In this tutorial, we have however assumed that you have some niche ideas already lined up. In the next two, we’ll consider what you can do if you don’t have niche ideas of your own as of yet.
And trust me, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 2 – Finding Your Niche.