More Niche Research Techniques
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 2 – Finding Your Niche first.
In this third and final module in the niche research tutorial series, we are going to consider a few more online resources which you can use to find potentially profitable niche ideas.
Whereas in the previous tutorial we focused on commercial sites, sites from which you can see what people are spending their money on, in this tutorial we will look at sites where you can see what kind of information people are searching for.
This is an important ‘variation’ on what you have done so far because if you know what people want or need, you put yourself in a better position to provide it. Remember that the primary objective here is to add as many possible niche ideas to your list as you can find…
As the name might suggest, Yahoo! Answers is a knowledge-base system that is owned by Yahoo!, a site where any member can log in, ask questions and have other Yahoo! Members answer them. According to the latest statistics, there are 21 million unique users of the site in the USA alone and perhaps 90 million worldwide, so there are an awful lot or people who have questions that need answering.
The beauty of using Yahoo! Answers and other similar sites like Wiki Answers is that it enables you to dig into your niche ideas in a little bit more detail and depth.
This is because site users come to these sites to ask questions which show you the kind of information that they need or want.
Hence, if you have some kind of niche market idea, you can use these sites to validate your idea and secondly as a way of establishing the kind of information that people really need. If this is the information that you provide through your business, you have a perfect match between what your potential customers want and what you can give them.
From the search box at the top of the Yahoo! Answers homepage, you can find all of the ‘question and answer’ sessions related to any particular niche topic which you are investigating. For example, to continue with the idea of German Shepherd training from the first module of this series, you would search like this:
Now you see a list of all the questions that Yahoo! members have asked about the various different aspects of dog training.
By scrolling to the bottom of the answers page, I can see that there are in excess of 2440 questions posted about training German Shepherds. Hence, there is plenty of information about the kind of questions that German Shepherd owners need an answer to:
This again suggest that there is plenty of interest in this particular market niche and it also supplies you with lots of pointers to the kind of information people really need about German Shepherds.
This enables you to position your business to answer these questions which will help to establish your reputation in your niche as an authority figure, an expert whose suggestions and recommendations can be trusted.
Incidentally, one aspect of Yahoo! Answers that many niche marketers ignore is the fact that the site has the capacity to drive some great free targeted traffic to your site.
This is one of the reasons why although your primary objective is niche research, you should become a member of the site and attempt to answer whatever questions you can.
When you click the ‘Answer Question’ button at the bottom of the page (it is blue by default but goes green when you run the mouse over it):
The next page where you post your answer allows you to add a ‘source’. If you include details of your website here and make sure that the answers you add offer quality and value, this will drive targeted visitors to your site.
Do not however include site information within your answer as this is generally frowned upon.
As suggested earlier, when looking at using Amazon as a research tool, one very smart niche marketing tactic is to focus on people who want to learn ‘how to’ do something or other.
A great site for finding lots of ideas of things that people want to learn how to do or things they need to achieve is MyGoals.com, a site for individuals who want to set and manage personal goals.
Some of the personal goals that feature on the site are very much as you would expect them to be – to lose 20lbs of weight and the like – but many others are far less obvious.
If therefore you’re looking for some really cool examples of the ‘how to’ information that people are looking for, MyGoals its a great research resource.
To get started, click on any of the categories listed under ‘Set a New Goal’ on the home page:
Every one of these categories has dozens of sub-divisions (these are from ‘Recreation & Leisure’):
By clicking on any of these links, you will see plenty of suggestions about the ‘how to’ information people might be searching for in each individual subsection of the main topic:
For instance, in this ‘Kayaking & Rafting’ example, there are five ideas on the left-hand side of the page all of which can be turned into ‘how to’ questions (i.e. ‘how to learn to kayak?’ etc).
On the right-hand side of the page, there are standard ‘goalplans’ which can again be used to come up with some additional niche ideas.
This is another site that is a little like MyGoals in that people detail the things that they want to achieve on the site.
In fact, 43Things claims to be ‘the world’s largest goal-setting community’ and there are certainly plenty of excellent ‘how to’ niche ideas on the homepage in the display of all the things that the members want to achieve:
Click on any of the tags to see all of the people who are hoping to achieve the objective tagged here. The more prominent tags are the ones which have been added by most site members, so they are the most popular.
On the page, you therefore have people who want to ‘get another tattoo’, ‘make more friends’, ‘meditate’ and ‘ride it in a hot-air balloon’.
With a little bit of creative thinking, all of these could be turned into ‘how to’ businesses as for example you could start a ‘how to meditate tips and hints site’ from where you sell a meditation product (physical equipment or products or a Clickbank information product).
Although MySpace is no longer the social networking behemoth it was a few years ago – that position has been usurped by Facebook – it is still a massively popular site with in excess of 100 million site users every month across the world.
One of the most attractive features of being a member of MySpace for many people is the ability to start new groups and join those that already exist.
The fact that so many groups exist means that MySpace is a great site for finding the kind of things that people want to do when they are on the net.
We have already established that once you identify what people want from the Internet, starting a successful niche based business becomes as straightforward as giving them what they want.
This information from MySpace is therefore extremely useful.
Open up the MySpace Groups homepage to see a listing of all of the group categories on the site:
Now, you can of course spend as much time as you want going through the groups listed on this page but in my experience, doing so often seems to eat up an inordinate amount of time with very little reward.
What you should focus on are the groups where there is money being made and spent, groups of people where there is at least a possibility of selling a product or service.
For this reason, I would tend to ignore groups like ‘Religion & Belief’, ‘Non-Profit & Philanthropic’, ‘Professional Organizations’ and the like. Instead, I would focus on categories where money is spent such as ‘Computers & Internet’, ‘Health, Wellness, Fitness’ and ‘Money & Investing’.
Using the health and fitness category as the example, click the link on the home page and when the next page opens, you will see that there are not far short of 4000 groups in this category:
The groups are listed in order of popularity, so the BodyBuilding.com group at the top of page is the most popular with over 157,000 members.
A little further down, you can see that there are a couple of ‘natural’ groups, ones which focuses on healing herbs, alternative medicines etc, which might be a niche that you have not yet investigated or thought of.
However, the real gold in these pages will be found if you scroll through the database of groups because as you dig ever deeper, you will come across an increasingly eclectic collection of groups, many of which you would perhaps not have thought of:
As you can see, these groups are not anywhere near as big as the ones we were looking at earlier. Nevertheless, as a source of niche market ideas, browsing through the groups at MySpace is a good way of getting a handle on the kind of things that people are interested in.
Yahoo! Directory and DMOZ
As you probably know, directory sites are places where Webmasters and site owners can list information about their sites and business. Once again, you can use these resources to establish what kind of sites are popular on a couple of the largest and most widely used directory sites on the Internet.
To begin with the Yahoo! Directory, the first thing that you will notice upon visiting the site is that the homepage features a ‘story of the day’, whilst on the left-hand side of the page, there is a category listing for all of the sites listed in the Yahoo! directory:
Each of the main category headings has several sub-categories listed underneath it, so as an example, I will click the ‘Nutrition’ link under the ‘Health’ category:
What we are looking for with directories is not the individual sites that are featured – there are actually quite surprisingly few considering that these two directory sites are probably the most popular and widely used (although you do pay for a Yahoo! listing which probably explains it).
However, before you get to the individual sites, you have a list of all of the sub-categories that the individual sites which have submitted their information to the directories have chosen to be listed under. These headings provide additional niche ideas:
And of course, you can investigate in greater detail by clicking the links here to see each of the individual sites listed and the information they carry.
It’s a similar thing over at DMOZ, the ‘open directory project’ site that is one of the most widely trusted authority sites on the net, a site which even Google trusts as a reliable source of information.
As with the Yahoo directory, you click the sub-category of any of the main categories on the homepage (in this case, we’ll go with ‘Business’ and ‘Investing’ to see what other suggestions you can pick up):
On the next page, there are many individual sub-divisions of the investment sub-category, all of which would provide niche ideas in the investment market:
Anything that you find interesting, click the link to see individual sites listed under the sub-division so that you get a clearer idea of what is on offer from sites that might be your competitors if you decide to enter this niche.
In fact, it is often a truly valuable exercise to investigate individual websites with these two directories because especially in more businesslike categories, the majority of the sites listed are often ‘big name’ players.
They are in other words the site owners who are spending a lot of time, effort and money on promoting their business which usually tells you that what they are doing on their site is effective.
In other words, they are providing an online promotional template that you can mimic in your own niche marketing activities, and of course, you’re picking up this information completely free.
Armed with the information in the previous tutorial and this one, you now have a large collection of niche marketing research resources (with one more to come) with which you should be able to find dozens or perhaps even hundreds of niche ideas which you can analyze as suggested in the first tutorial.
However, even though you have all of these weapons in your armory, it is important to understand that you do not need to use every niche research tool every time you want to launch a new site or business operation.
Instead, it is crucial that you waste as little time as possible and get started without any unnecessary tinkering about or delay.
This is a very important point to take on board because one of the biggest mistakes that many online marketers make is to try to over-think or over-analyze what they are doing.
It’s a condition sometimes known as ‘analysis paralysis’ referring to the fact that some marketers become so obsessed about making sure that they have got everything absolutely 100% perfectly correct that they never get around to taking action because they haven’t quite got it as perfect as they want.
The problem is, they never will get things absolutely perfect because in the real world, nothing is ever 100% perfect. It is therefore quite likely that they will sit on the fence procrastinating forever.
For instance, based on the strategies in this tutorial and the previous one, you could build a list of several hundred potential niches and then analyze every one as thoroughly as recommended in the first tutorial.
And yet, you might still get it wrong (and inevitably will do from time to time). This is because marketing on the Internet is not a perfect science. Interet users are human beings who don’t always do what logic dictates that they should or will do.
Furthermore, things change very rapidly in online marketing and so your business model could seem perfect on paper today only to be useless in practice tomorrow because your product or service has been usurped by something more effective and efficient.
Imagine how you’d have felt when the first bicycle shop opened up as the proud owner of the town’s leading unicycle store. Do this and you have some idea of what I’m talking about here.
There is therefore little or no point in overanalyzing what you are doing. Instead, what you need to do is find a niche market where everything points to it being profitable and start taking action.
The longer you delay, the more chance there is that the world (or at least your potential market) will pass you by, so don’t delay any longer than necessary.
Understand from the beginning that no matter how much work you put into finding a perfect niche, you never will. Furthermore, until you have a lot of experience, the niches that you expect to do well are almost always the ones that disappoint whereas the ones of which you have very few expectations are generally the ones that make the most money.
The most important thing is to get over it and get on with it.
All of the niche market research tools that we have reviewed in the previous tutorial and in this one are extremely effective.
Indeed, over the years I have used every one of the niche market research tactics of which you have read and I would definitely recommend that you try them because every one has something to offer when it comes to really understanding your niche before diving in.
However, over the past couple of years, there has been one niche research tactic that I have used more than any other simply because as a research tactic, it presents all of the information quickly, simply and accurately.
Given the importance of getting things moving as quickly possible, this is definitely a niche research topic that works very efficiently and very quickly as well.
Visit one of the major article directory sites like EzineArticles. You can use any article directory you want but I tend to use this particular directory simply because it’s the biggest and one of the easiest to navigate your way around.
There’s a search box at the top of the EzineArticles homepage. Type in a generic question like ‘how to’, ‘how can I’, ‘how do I’, ‘ways to’ ‘tips’ or something of this nature.
I have already highlighted that this is the kind of information that most people who are willing to spend money on the Internet need or want:
This is therefore an extremely effective tactic for finding thousands of different ideas about niches and the best part is that in every one of these niches, other marketers (the article authors) have already done all of the market research for you:
As you can see in the screenshot, there are 2.2 million ‘how to’ questions, so it’s pretty unlikely that you are ever going to run out of different niche ideas using this tactic.
But it gets better because once you’ve found an article that seems to have something to offer, you can be pretty certain that in the majority of cases, the marketer who has written the article has also linked it to a product or service they are promoting.
Hence, if you follow the links beneath the article to visit their site, you will probably find information about a product you can start promoting immediately.
But that’s not quite all. Let’s imagine that this is the article that is focused on the niche that you are interested in getting into:
This article is in the #3 slot of the 2.2 million results that EzineArticles returned in response to my ‘how to’ search.
The writer is obviously doing something right and although the age of the article (it appears to be around three years old) is a big plus point in its favor, it must also have a decent set of keyword terms as well.
If you are using Firefox, click the ‘View’ link at the top left hand corner of the screen and then ‘Page Source’:
In Internet Explorer, it’s ‘View’ and then ‘Source’:
In both cases, you can now see the underlying code of the page so you can see what the keyword terms being used by the article in which you are interested are:
You therefore have a niche, a product and some keyword terms to get started with all within approximately 5 minutes of starting your research.
Now, there are a couple of cautionary notes here.
Do not be lazy and use only this method because whilst it is very quick and easy, it is not foolproof.
For this reason, you should learn how to use other niche research strategies through sites like Amazon, eBay, MyGoals and Yahoo! Answers because those sites are all great sources of tremendously valuable information.
Similarly, just because an article writer has managed to get their article to the top of the EzineArticles ‘tree’ does not necessarily mean that the marketing campaign for which this article was used was a resounding success.
For example, you may find that a very successful article points a link at a product page where the product itself is frankly poor or boring. You cannot therefore assume that every result you find using this simple method is a surefire winner.
Nevertheless, as a way of finding niche market ideas quickly and easily, this is a system that I find to be very effective, especially if you have other niche research tactics (such as those highlighted previously) with which you are comfortable.
My experience of researching niches using some of the other sites highlighted in this tutorial and the previous one is that after a time, you do start to get a feeling about whether a niche is good or bad and this is certainly a valuable skill to have when using this quickfire method.
Over the course of the three niche research tutorials, I have shown you how to analyze individual niche markets to see whether a particular idea exhibits all of the necessary characteristics of a profitable, successful niche.
I have also giving you plenty of highly effective niche research resources that you can use to build your own potential niche list at no cost.
However, do not forget the dangers of ‘analysis paralysis’. Do not over-think things or try for perfection because it’s a waste of time.
Instead, armed with the information you now have about about niche research, start taking action now.