Newbies Guide to Niche Marketing Niche marketing can be extremely rewarding. Many online entrepreneurs regard it as the easiest way to get started in the marketing world. So what exactly is it? Niche marketing is exploiting a particular subset of the market for a very specific product, such as chef hats as a niche within clothing. Selling these items off-line is complicated because it is difficult to replicate the same reach and product awareness. The internet, and search engines in particular, have made it much easier to presents goods to buyers. The majority of buyers will first go through the likes of Google. They?ll enter a term or phrase - in this case, ?chef hats? - and Google will find relevant pages. The SERPs Page There are two distinct sections within the SERPs. The first is Sponsored Results. These are the items in a yellow box, both along the top and down the right-hand side of the page. These have been paid for by companies who wish to be ranked for the particular keywords used in the query. Those at the top are the highest bidders, resulting in their prominent position below the search terms. The second section is the natural links. These are ranked according to relevance, as judged by search engine algorithms. If these contain entries from big names such as Amazon or Wikipedia, you will have a hard time competing for ranking. These are called mainstream niches. Finding the Right Products to Market When looking for a product to sell, you need to keep three things in mind for the optimum results. Can you compete? - If the results page for an item is dominated by big brands, you will have a hard time ranking. Is there enough traffic? - This can be difficult in a niche market with low competition. Can you convert? - Ranking well will bring in traffic, but turning those visitors into sales is the key. Getting a fair commission is also a factor, but high commissions might be offered on products that are difficult to sell. Alternatively a low commission on a high-priced product may be more fruitful than a high commission on something that sells for a low price. This will depend on demand and the number of sales you make. You will have to learn as you go. If you?re intending to use multiple affiliate sites selling different products - which is the best approach - you will be able to accumulate a decent income over time. This is the beauty of affiliate marketing: once you have set up your site, it doesn?t take much more effort. You should continue to check your ranking as they could change at any time and you may lose your prime position. Niche marketing is a long term strategy. It will take time for your sites to mature and gain prominence in the rankings and to bring in traffic. It could be three months or more before you even begin to see sales on your site. Use this time to find other niche products and set up new sites. Most successful niche marketers will have a number of sites - sometimes hundreds. Their products often vary greatly and cover a range of sectors. Having a large number of sites will require web design/development time. Where to Start Product Finding the right product to sell is the most important step. You need to find an item you can sell effectively, against low competition, with high traffic and conversion rates. This can often be the most difficult step, especially for newbies who find it hard to identify strong viable products. Not all companies have affiliate programs. You may want to go through affiliate marketing sites such as Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, Link Share etc. Amazon is used by most beginners and offers a commissioner of around 4 -15% depending on volume and product type. Technology products tend to have higher values and higher commissions. Competition Examine the competitors for related keywords. You may be able to use these sites as a reference for your own. You also need to know how difficult it will be to rank well, as previously mentioned. Build a Site Simply having a page which promotes an item doesn?t cut it anymore. Even when it worked, it was a lazy way of marketing and far from the most lucrative. Now, Google?s Panda updates penalize sites which exist solely for the purpose of advertising. A valuable affiliate site will have value in its own right. Blogs are a great way of giving value to visitors and leading them towards your chosen products. Blogs create a personality, an identity visitors can relate to and begin to trust. This makes them more agreeable to your recommendations. Remember to give your users a reason to trust you. If you are an expert in any way, or just an avid fan and user, with insight into these products, tell them that. If you don?t have experience, you can relate to them through a shared curiosity - you seem like one of them. Testimonials are also a useful addition. These should be genuine and credible, otherwise you may risk being sued. Supply Remember to check on your sites. In particular, make sure the items you are selling are still available. Sometimes product lines change, discontinue or simply have gaps in their availability. Your audience may be disappointed if the product is not available and the blame will most likely rest with you. Keywords Virtually any search term can yield millions of listings, with countless connotations being used. The terms entered are keywords. Generating relevant results often requires more terms to specify your exact need. These phrases are also called keywords. They are part of the long tail of search. Long-tail search terms are generally 3-5 words. Long-tail actually makes up the majority of searches and as such are more valuable than generic terms. Keywords don?t need to be grammatically correct either; in fact, for a while, many SEOs targeted keywords that were misspelled. This is less necessary now as spellcheck and search suggestions prevent most mistakes from occurring. Those who choose their keywords wisely create a valuable opportunity to rank in the search listings, thereby driving more traffic to their site. More traffic means more sales - assuming your site actually relates to those keywords. Otherwise, your traffic is useless. Due to the highly competitive market, newbies should find products with longer keywords, or key phrases. The traffic is likely to be lower, which means you will need more than just the one keyword. Or, as advised above, more than one product. Keywords for Niche Subsets The more specific your keywords are, the less competitive they are likely to be. There is also the added advantage of being farther along in the sales process. Someone looking for a chef hat may or not be ready to buy, but someone looking for a child?s Italian style chef hat is much more likely to make a purchase. Narrowing down the segment of a market result in what we call ?well-qualified leads?. These are people who are more likely to know what they want, aren?t just browsing and are more likely to make a purchase. Although traffic levels for these terms are often quite low, they generally have proportionately higher conversion rates. Using a niche marketing strategy does not mean limiting yourself to that one item. You can also use the site to advertise any related items. You can sell any items the audience of your niche product might be interested in it. This allows you to upsell and adds value in the eyes of search engines, which will aid your ranking. Another good way to improve your position in SERPs is to use your primary keyword in your domain name. This will help match search queries. Shorter domain names are better as you want to be memorable. Imaginative names that use the keyword are preferable. There are a number of keyword tools which can be used to find products to market. You can check traffic statistics for certain keywords, or view niche dashboards which identify low high traffic/low competition keywords. They can also suggest long-tail terms and demographics. Avoid keyword stuffing, as this will be punished by Google. More importantly, the traffic you have worked so hard to gain will most often leave your site if they see incomprehensible keyword-stuffed content. This will lead to high bounce rates and low click-through. Similarly, stuffing the content full of links will be punished by search engines. Advertising and Marketing PPC One of the most popular approaches to niche marketing, is pay-per-click (PPC). With this method, the market is largely dominated by Google?s AdSense. This allows website publishers to place HTML code on their site which links to the AdSense engine. Relevant adverts are placed on the site, usually as boxed graphics or banners. The nature of the ad is based on the context of the page, or previous sites visited by the user. Text links may also be used. The website owner/publisher is paid a commission for every time a visitor clicks on the ad. Making money from this form of advertising requires a well-designed site, with prominently featured ad space and high traffic levels. Search Engine Marketing The main alternative is to use natural search results and make your site search-friednly to gain a higher ranking. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO). This is a long-term strategy and may take weeks, or even months, to show results. SEO is often cheaper and more cost effective than PPC, and can be a one-off cost - assuming you are not affected by new algorithm updates. It is important in search marketing for your site to appear on the first page of results. The second page is rarely visited, with only 10% of searchers progressing that far. Only 5% reach the third page. If people still don?t have the results they?re looking for, they are more likely to refine their search terms i.e. use long-tail queries. Marketing Through Youtube Creating good-quality videos for Youtube has become increasingly easy and relatively cheap. You can make a video about anything related to your niche product and include a link in the description, the video itself, and/or on your ?channel?. Demonstrations and reviews are popular forms of video content for niche marketing. When used in conjunction with social media sites, such as Facebook, videos have the potential to go viral. This can create a lot of traffic. Of course, search engines aren?t the only source of traffic. Content is? Do you know the next word? Of course you do, because content is shared, reproduced, re-appropriated and even parodied. Memes and catchphrases are also particularly good at gaining widespread recognition - which can bring in more traffic for your site. Produce articles related to your niche and publish them with backlinks to your site. This can then be shared, possibly becoming viral, and drive people toward your site. It also has a SERPs benefit, as articles are a great way of matching for keywords without stuffing. If your articles are published through another platform, you can benefit from their PageRank, not to mention their readership. The backlinks also help your SEO. Ensure that your content is free of spelling mistake and errors in grammar. This can be a serious deterrent for visitors. Research from the University of London showed that 68% of consumers would not buy from websites with typos. Linking Linking is vital to SEO and to a site?s authority in general. Earning in-bound links on relevant sites will allow search bots to understand your sector. If those sites have high authority, this will also act as a boost. More importantly, you will be able to access some of their audience and these visitors will be more likely to convert as they are coming from related pages. If you?re careless with your link building, you will get penalized by search engines. Even if you avoid detection, links to or from unrelated sites will fail to bring you quality traffic and will negatively affect perception of your site. Social Networks As well as being used to share content, social media can be used to follow a particular brand or product. Many niche marketers make Facebook pages etc to drive traffic as most social media pages are free and easy to set up. It?s also a good way of finding consumers who are actually interested in your product - they wouldn?t like the page if you weren?t. As such, this is likely to drive traffic with more chance of converting. Some may be better suited to Tumblr, whereas others would perform better on Twitter. This comes down to knowing your audience; their gender, demographic and the social media platform they prefer. Not all products suit social media.