Case Study: How to Target A Niche Market And Dominate Google Search Results
As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I run a music blog that covers Stoner Rock—an underground genre that takes elements of Black Sabbath and Grunge and slows it all down while mixing in extra fuzz and distortion.
Over the 10 months or so, I’ve consistently committed about an hour a day to the blog, which has helped me publish about one post a week. It’s not a lot of time (especially since it’s something I enjoy), but the results have been interesting.
In that 10-month time span, Monster Riff has significantly increased in popularity, partially thanks to its consistently high search result rankings.
Although I’m still thrilled every time a band submits an album for review or when I receive an unsolicited note about how much someone appreciates the blog, I’m most excited by Monster Riff’s search traffic.
Many of Monster Riff’s articles rank in the first slot of Google for their target keywords, a result of research, experience, and working inside a niche.
The Advantage of Having a Niche
I’ll be the first to admit it: A major part of Monster Riff’s success comes from a lack of serious competition. Major music publications with greater domain authority rarely cover Stoner Rock (the genre isn’t exactly mainstream), and other players in the market are fans first and writers second, meaning they don’t always understand SEO well enough to rank competitively.
That’s good news for me.
But it’s also good news for you. It’s more proof that finding a niche to drill into can become a boon to your business and blogging success.
As an example, let’s say you run a small shop that specializes in 3D printing. Naturally, you’d like your company to rank well on the search engine results page (SERP) for your target keywords, but that can be difficult if there are a ton of other 3D printing shops.
Let’s refine the concept. Let’s say part of your business focuses on 3D printing temporary replacement parts for machinery. With this small but important switch, you’re no longer competing against every other 3D printing shop. Instead, you’re competing against 3D printing shops that specialize in developing replacement parts for machinery.
That means you’re now likely competing for a different set of longtail keywords, pushing aside phrases like “3D printing” in exchange for “3D printed machine parts” and “How to make temporary machine replacement componentry.”
Now let’s drill down even further. Let’s say your business specializes in 3D printing temporary replacement parts for machinery in the Oil & Gas industry.
You’ve just unlocked an opportunity to become ultra-competitive with your web copy in a significantly refined niche. You’ll likely only have a few (if any) competitors, which means you’ll have an easier time ranking.
Just take a look at the search results for “3D printer company” when compared to “3D printed replacement parts for machinery in the Oil and Gas industry”:
That’s a 75% reduction in search results! Now image if you refined even further by mixing in location-based keywords to become even more competitive in a certain region.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but developing content that appeals to fewer people can actually result in more traffic. That’s the power of a niche.
Now let’s watch this in action through Monster Riff.
Starting Monster Riff: Getting Off the Ground
Monster Riff started from nothing more than a simple love of music. I was aware of some of the other writers and bloggers in the Stoner Rock space, and I knew there were some immediate opportunities to begin outranking them.
For example, I knew I could:
Create content that was more engaging and in-depth than the current blogs in the market
Write content that was SEO-conscious and focused on securing organic traffic through Google results
Develop content that was authoritative and worth linking to as a trusted resource
Build a cleaner, more mobile-friendly website that works well on desktop and mobile
I took a manual approach to Monster Riff, choosing to thoroughly examine some of the biggest blogs in the space. I took note of:
Average article length
How articles were constructed (How were headers and subheaders incorporated? How long was each paragraph?)
Use of media within each article (images, video embeds, Spotify embeds, etc.)
Site structure (how visitors navigate the site and how “vertical” or “horizontal” the site is)
With these questions answered and some other data compiled, I had a good idea of where the bar sat and what my own goal in terms of length and quality should be.
The Wheels Start Turning
As with many blogs, Monster Riff had a slow start (something that was largely self-inflicted because I took more time than anticipated to develop a logo I loved—and even then, I waited a little longer to start promoting it on social media).
Still, the results began to show.
Bands took note and started submitting albums with review requests—reviews that they eventually shared with their own fans.
As word spread, more and more artists became interested in interviews, allowing me to talk shop with some of my favorite musicians in the Stoner Rock scene.
And since these musicians often have a wider reach than Monster Riff, their help in sharing the articles helped secure much more attention for Monster Riff.
In time, I began seeing links to Monster Riff all over the internet. A fellow blogger promoted Monster Riff in one of his pieces. A recipe blogger mentioned a Monster article as a potential soundtrack while cooking. A Reddit user linked to a Monster Riff article to quickly stomp out an argument.
That last one was my favorite. I got a good chuckle out of being the deciding factor in an internet argument, but it also meant that Monster Riff was authoritative enough to present to a stranger as proof that they were incorrect.
Seeing the Results In Google Search Results and Google Search Console
More importantly, Monster Riff started showing up in Google search results for terms in my Stoner Rock niche.
As mentioned, I frequently cover new music and album releases. Over time, I’ve honed in on a format that ranks well, regularly placing the article in the top two search slots on the search engine results page for my target keywords. Monster Riff’s coverage of All Them Witch’s Nothing As the Ideal follows this template perfectly, and it helped the album capture the featured snippet:
Another example of high rankings and high traffic comes from a focus on being inclusive. Monster Riff’s coverage of women in Stoner Rock (a genre that’s especially male-dominated) continues to receive great traffic, and it’s been picked up by industry insiders a couple of times on social media, giving the article a nice boost in traffic.
When I first started tracking Monster Riff’s traffic regularly, it averaged about 20 pageviews a day. That number continues to gradually inch upwards. As I developed a backlog of high-ranking articles and built a social media presence, those daily views bumped to 30, then 40, then 60, then 80, and now Monster Riff averages more than 100 page views per day.
There’s still much more to do, and I believe that number can grow significantly higher as Monster Riff continues to cover bigger and bigger musicians and bands. In the meantime, Monster Riff ranks well within its niche.
Applying These Concepts In Your World
Although the concepts and examples I’ve listed above may seem foreign (you likely won’t conduct any interviews with underground rock bands anytime soon), the main ideas are still transferable for your own business.
Instead of interviewing bands, you might decide to interview subject matter experts within your company or industry. This tactic means you’ll likely enjoy a social media boost when they help to share it.
Instead of having one of your blogs become a strategic tool in an online argument, you might find your well-written thought leadership resonates well on LinkedIn or across Facebook.
The important thing is to keep digging until you find your own niche.
How to Find Your Own Niche
Although you may not realize it, you’re likely primed to jump into a few different niches at once, leaving you with plenty of opportunities. Consider the following:
Who are your biggest clients and customers? What do they have in common? With thorough analysis, you might spot certain trends. Maybe 30% of your customers work in the education sector. If so, can you create a new product or service that caters directly to those individuals and people like them? Can you create meaningful thought leadership that resonates with them?
What are your most commonly sold products or services? Who purchases them? Again, a thorough analysis here may reveal some currently unseen trends. If a specific product or service is commonly purchased by a single demographic, you have the first signs of a potential niche.
Is there a product or service that consumers purchase from you because they trust you (instead of your competitors) to provide such products or services? If your business is the de facto choice for anything, you likely have a niche you can dominate with great SEO-driven content.
What do customers regularly mention in your reviews that help distinguish you from the competition? By carefully combing through your reviews, you may find additional trends that help you stand out from others in your industry.
What do you know and understand better than your direct competitors? Think about the ways your company can stand out with the skills and knowledge you and your team already have—including skills and knowledge you haven’t tapped into yet.
Go Slowly And Be Methodical
A niche can become incredibly important for your business, but deciding what that niche should be can take time.
Move slowly. Carefully determine what your niche should be by reviewing all of the data available.
With enough information at your fingertips, you’ll settle on something that helps your company stand out, driving new revenue streams for your business for years to come.