How to Do SEO When You’re in a Low-Volume Niche
Using best practices for SEO is the best (and only) way to improve your website ranking and visibility. It helps to target high-volume keywords that aren’t overly competitive.
The problem for low competition niches is an emphasis on low-volume keywords.
If your primary keywords won’t generate traffic, what’s the point of an SEO strategy?
Fortunately, experts are aware of niche SEO and there are countless examples of small brands carving out their path to digital marketing success. Let’s define what niche SEO is and provide you with the strategies you need to claim your stake within search engine results pages.
You can also use the table of contents to jump ahead to a specific section within the article:
- What is a Niche Website?
- Why It’s Difficult to Rank Niche Websites
- Keyword Research for Niche Websites
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
- Content Marketing
- Get Connected with Social Media
- Get Acquainted with Your Competitors
What is a Niche Website?
A niche website is any site that serves a segmented portion of a larger audience. This small segment of the audience typically has needs or interests that are hyper-specific and are only met by select businesses in an industry.
A niche website is not necessarily small or unsuccessful.
The term niche implies that particular products or services the brand provides appeal to a much smaller audience than mainstream commercial brands. Niche websites can still feature hundreds of high-quality pages that effectively serve their audience.
An example of a niche website is the highly successful Nerd Fitness. Whereas fitness and weight loss is a broad, competitive niche, this website specifically creates content targeting “nerds” and those less fitness-inclined. Even with the focus on a specific audience segment, the creators continuously manage to achieve success and recognition online.
Why It’s Difficult to Rank Niche Websites?
It can be difficult to see the results of your niche website SEO as a direct result of that hyper-specificity.
If you design your content, products, or services to appeal to a particular type of person, then your search volume is naturally going to match this. There simply aren’t enough people searching for the very specific keywords you might want to use to best describe your content.
As a response, these website owners tend to resort to very vague, broad keywords that still match the general industry. The problem with choosing generalized keywords is that they describe a high number of businesses, making them incredibly difficult to effectively target.
With specific keywords featuring a low search volume and general keywords being too competitive, SEO for your niche seems hopeless.
But, we’re here to tell you it’s not. Let’s explore how you can start doing niche SEO effectively starting now.
How to Do Keyword Research for Niche Sites?
Researching the ideal keywords for a niche site generally requires a degree of creativity. What we’re looking for are terms or phrases that are neither hyper-specific nor overly generalized.
First, start by looking up keywords for the products or services you sell within your SEO tool of choice. You can utilize popular platforms such as SEMRush or Moz Keyword Explorer. If these terms are revealing little to no monthly search volume, you won’t want to spend too much of your time or budget attempting to rank for these.
Instead, let’s think about how we can generalize these terms to a degree for a slightly broader appeal.
1. Choosing Less Specific Keywords
Let’s pretend that your specific niche involves creating handmade sculptures of cats. Though there’s always a possibility, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a noteworthy amount of traffic for that phrase.
We need to think of different ways to describe this niche. You could research alternatives such as “animal sculptures,” “cat sculptures,” or “pet art.” The first two are a little less specific but try to qualify visitors that specifically want sculpting work. The latter example leaves more room for interpretation, but still correctly qualifies the nature of your product.
You’re aiming to increase your search volume numbers, but not so much as to engage in ranking competitions where you don’t want to be involved.
2. You May Need to Get More Specific, Not Less
Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, there are plenty of examples where more specificity is better.
For example, CBD and hemp products continue to be the rage online and in stores. However, attempting to rank for “CBD” is likely to be an exercise in failure. Those trying to rank for this keyword might include medical retailers, doctors, scholars, and beauty supply chains. Each may create CBD content for different reasons, making the competition fierce.
In these scenarios, you need to dial into how your brand’s relationship with CBD products may differ from others. This should simultaneously separate you from unrelated keyword competition and help you stand out from your real direct competitors.
If your brand focuses primarily on beauty products and utilizes CBD as a component, you want your keywords to reflect this. Try “CBD skin lotion” or “CBD bath bomb.” This specifies your content enough to avoid conflict with unrelated industries such as medical practice.
3. Don’t Forget About Your LSI Keywords
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. An LSI keyword is a term or phrase that relates to your primary keyword in some way.
Google takes advantage of LSI keywords to better understand the true intent of your content. When you juxtapose LSI keywords alongside your primary target keyword, the algorithm can extrapolate the relationship between them. It can then help you avoid the issue of delivering your content to a broad, less qualified audience.
Let’s take our example above using CBD skin lotion. Possible LSI keywords might include “side effects,” “moisturizer,” “eczema,” or “psoriasis.” Using all of these terms together on the same page leaves no room for misinterpretation as to what type of product you offer.
Technical SEO is Always Vital Regardless of Niche
Technical SEO refers to optimizations that can improve the process of crawling and indexing your website. These technical improvements are fundamental to any successful SEO strategy regardless of your audience or industry.
When Google crawls your website, it is simultaneously evaluating and indexing each page for search engine results pages. It looks at a variety of factors (well over one hundred of them) including content, navigation, structured data, loading speed, and mobile-friendliness.
While these optimizations are essential for every website, their importance is even more so for a low-volume niche that struggles to get noticed. Let’s take a look at our checklist of technical SEO tips you should implement immediately.
Optimize Meta Descriptions, Title Tags, and Alternative Text
This section refers to elements that help users and Googlebot to better understand the content on a page.
- Meta Description Recommendations
The meta description is a snippet that appears beneath every search engine result. In 150-160 characters, you should summarize and advertise your page content in a way that’s accurate and attractive to users. Keeping it at the recommended character count will prevent your description from being cut off abruptly in the preview.
You should also utilize your primary keyword within the snippet. Any keywords that user performs their search with will be highlighted within your description. This provides much-needed visibility that helps your result stand out over others.
While an accurate description is important, you should also leave room for a little intrigue. Essentially, don’t give the ingredients to the secret sauce upfront. If your content promises more value, users will be more likely to give you the click.
- Create Compelling Title Tags
A title tag acts as the page title both on-page and within search engine results pages. You can set your page’s title tag via HTML within the text editor like this:
<title>Welcome to My New Web Page</title>
If you utilize a modern CMS for creating new web pages and posts, the process is even easier. Simply look for the “Title” field when creating a new page and enter your title there without the HTML code.
We recommend keeping all page titles limited to 60 characters or less. This prevents your title from being cut short by Google search results, similar to what happens with meta descriptions.
Titles are incredibly important for improving your clickthrough rate. When researching your target keywords, you should actively brainstorm and research topic ideas that incorporate that keyword. Your favorite SEO tool likely features an additional tab that shows popular queries that contain your chosen keyword.
Formatting titles in a way that asks or answers a question is also a powerful way to drive your CTR. Topics that contain inquiring terms such as “how-to” or “what” tend to outperform those without.
A great place to research topics for your website is Quora. Their users will provide you with topic suggestions by asking a community their most pressing questions. You might find a popular, highly-upvoted post that asks “How can I improve my technical SEO?” If you were looking to rank for this term, then creating an article that effectively answers this question is a great place to start.
- Don’t Forget to Add Alt Text to Images and Graphics
Alternative text is another descriptive passage that helps users and crawlers understand the contents of media on a page. This is vital if a browser is not able to properly render the image content on a webpage.
Alt text should be simple, short, and provide the minimum details necessary to know what the image shows. We recommend writing an alt text description that naturally incorporates the page’s target keyword. This way, you still serve the user with an effective alt tag, but help reinforce how your content applies to the targeted keyword or phrase.
Get to Work on Your Link Building Strategy
Link building is a pillar of SEO that helps website owners acquire new traffic through backlinks from external websites. However, link building also refers to effectively utilizing internal links throughout your site to connect related content and improve your average visit duration.
To understand the power of link building, we need to understand how domain authority and backlinks work.
How Backlinks Help Your SEO?
Domain authority refers to a search engine’s understanding of how valuable or trustworthy a site is to use in search engine results pages. The higher your perceived domain authority, the more likely your website is to be chosen as the top result.
A backlink is any link on an external website that points users to a location on your website.
Why do these matter for niche SEO?
Whenever you receive backlinks from other websites, Google follows those links when crawling the involved websites. Because two external sites are linked together, the crawler can identify and understand the relationship and how linked content is relevant. This, once again, helps Google gain confidence in its assessment of your site.
Whenever you receive a backlink from a site with high domain authority, Google also sees this as a vote of confidence in your relationship. Think of this as moving your website into a neighborhood that the public knows to be trustworthy and safe. If you receive backlinks from and share a neighborhood with trusted sites, that trust and authority get passed to your domain.
Conversely, you’ll want to stay on top of the backlinks you receive from sketchy sources. These can actively harm your SEO through no fault of your own. Reach out to these webmasters to ask for the removal of the backlink. Otherwise, you may need to submit a disavow request with Google.
The primary way to acquire new backlinks is to create content worthy of sharing. Focus on all aspects of your technical SEO, create compelling articles, and perform some outreach to get more eyes on your web pages. You can also seek out brands on social media that you want to connect with in hopes of acquiring a backlink. Get friendly with others and allow the rest to happen naturally.
1. Don’t Forget About Internal Linking
While the backlinking acquisition is ultimately dependent on outside sources, you have total control over your internal links.
An internal link is any link that directs users from one page on your website to another on the same site. Seek out natural opportunities to direct users to related content without compromising the user experience. For example, if an article you’re writing alludes to a topic that requires more in-depth exploration, create a new webpage with that content and link the two together.
Internal linking can potentially provide numerous benefits.
First, a page with high ranking and authority can potentially distribute that trust to other pages on your site, similar to backlinks.
Second, internal linking is known to improve the time users spend on a website. Because the person already demonstrates interest in the topic of your current page, they’re likely to interact with other suggested pages that also apply to their interests. The longer a user spends on your site, the more time you have to build trust and nurture your leads.
Finally, internal linking helps aid the crawling and indexing process. This is important as the number of pages on your site grows. When you regularly link existing pages to new ones, Google has an easier time identifying them and indexing them for ranking.
2. Create an XML Sitemap
While not mandatory, creating and submitting an XML sitemap to Google can greatly expedite the indexing process and improve your SEO.
An XML (External Markup Language) sitemap explains your site layout and navigation to Googlebot. In addition to this, you can also utilize the sitemap to highlight your primary, most important pages.
You can also identify pages that should be excluded from crawling. In niche scenarios, this can prevent you from acquiring unwanted ranking penalties for known issues that exist on your website.
Without a sitemap, Google is left to primarily guess which pages are most important based on the content and other SEO work present on the page. This approach causes Google to take longer to catch up, and will set you back when comparing your site to others that regularly use and update their sitemap appropriately.
3. Use Redirects to Avoid Missing Out on New Visitors
Updates to your website will happen. Whether you need to take a page down for maintenance or need to delete a page with awful PageRank, you’re going to end up with some 404 Not Found errors.
While 404s are an everyday part of the internet, losing out on new and returning traffic should not be.
Any time a user clicks on an internal or external link that leads to a 404, this hurts the user experience and causes visitors to abandon or “bounce” away from the site. An increased bounce rate hurts your website ranking and is bad for SEO.
Instead of allowing this to happen, be sure to implement 3XX redirects to help visitors access the correct page. If you permanently delete a page and create a new one, utilize a 301 redirect to automatically push those visitors to the right page. This is especially important if you want to keep those backlink benefits from other sites coming your way.
If your site is going through some temporary pages, let Google know by implementing a 302 redirect. This helps to avoid issues with a 404 and prompts Google to preserve the SEO benefits you obtained from your work on the previous page.
To learn how to implement 3XX redirects, check out our comprehensive tutorial here.
4. Take Advantage of Google Search Console for Faster Indexing
Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to monitor and address issues throughout your website.
It can diagnose issues related to loading speed, mobile optimization, and much more. It’s also where you can submit your XML sitemap, keep track of your backlinks profile, and submit a disavow request if necessary.
Additionally, you can request crawling and submit your site for indexing following site updates. This helps Google keep up with your edits and keeps a better record of your activity. A website that’s updated more frequently is generally more favorable to Google than one that remains stagnant for weeks or months at a time.
5. Get an SSL Certificate and Upgrade to HTTPS
You can further help your low-volume niche website’s SEO by ensuring the security of your visitor’s sensitive data.
Every website utilizes one of these two protocols to handle the communication and transmission of data between the user’s web browser and the website server. While HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the default, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) encrypts the communication by using an SSL Certificate.
Google officially issued a statement prioritizing HTTPS websites over HTTP. While switching to HTTPS isn’t likely to give you a noticeable boost, it does give you a leg up over those operating their website without. When you’re in a low-volume niche, you need to provide yourself with all the assistance you can get to improve your SEO.
6. Format All of Your Content for Mobile
Here’s one of our go-to statistics when talking SEO: Nearly 55% of all web traffic is now mobile.
This means that if you don’t format your content with mobile UX in mind, you’re going to hemorrhage traffic.
The quality of the user experience counts for everything, especially when you’re trying to find your place online within your low-volume niche. Users should be able to easily navigate your entire website, clearly read and interact with content, and be able to make purchases with their touch screen and keyboard.
Page speed once again becomes a critical factor for your UX as poor design can ruin the mobile browsing experience. Be sure to check out the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to get feedback on how your site stacks up.
SEO for mobile browsing is not just about the technical aspects, either. Phone browsing is changing how users search for information. Search Engine Watch suggests that 63% of searches for local businesses come from a phone or tablet. This means mobile users are less likely to search “How can I cook a delicious meal at home,” and more likely to search “best Thai food near me.”
If you want to stand out in a low-volume niche, it can help to be mindful of mobile search habits when deciding what type of content you want to create and which keywords you want to pursue.
Cover Your Bases in Local SEO
Local SEO can prove vital for any small business or brand that serves a specific location somewhere in the world. Looking above at how mobile users tend to search for content, you want to make sure that website ranks for those locally-focused queries.
Google doesn’t simply use location keywords to match users to content, i.e. “Miami food.” Instead, it can identify the approximate geographic region the search originates from and matches that search to businesses it can find in the same area.
Use these tips to help you stand out locally in a low-volume niche:
1. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
If you ever search for a business using location-based keywords, your results tend to differ from a normal result. These business profiles are known as Google My Business listings and help users obtain important information quickly.
You can sign up for your own GMB listing here. You’ll need to identify your business with Google and follow their step-by-step process for proving ownership. There are multiple ways to do this, some of which can take 24 hours while others can take up to seven days.
Once you have access to your GMB profile, you can begin optimizing. Be sure to provide the following:
- Hours of operation
- Service options
- A summarizing description of the service
- Pictures of the location
You can also use this to keep customers up-to-date on any temporary hour changes or health and safety notices.
Finally, customers will be able to leave their reviews of your business on your GMB profile. Maintaining a collection of 5-star reviews acts as social proof and can also assist in improving your SEO. After all, we all want to do business with brands that we know others trust.
2. Sign Up for Directory Listings
Directory listing websites function similar to a GMB profile but utilize their own search directory. Examples of sites like this include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and FourSquare.
The process of claiming your business differs depending on the platform. After you claim your business, you should fully optimize your profile as you did with your GMB listing. The benefits you receive are similar, while also claiming a few additional backlinks from these directory websites.
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re ever wondering how you can improve your SEO, let one phrase burn into your mind: “Content is king.”
Many brand owners make the mistake of choosing to utilize SEO only over implementing a content marketing strategy. However, you cannot effectively improve your SEO without great content. It’s so important, that we created an entire article on the subject here.
Creating high-quality content should walk hand-in-hand with your new and improved keyword research strategy for low-volume niches. Once you select your target keywords, you need to create content that supports their use.
You may be wondering: “My niche is already low-volume. How am I going to get clicks on my content?” The answer is often counter-intuitive.
Because you’re in a low-volume niche, there likely isn’t a lot of high-quality content to be found that deals with that industry. This also means that there is likely a hunger for great content shared among those that are passionate about your particular niche.
This leaves you with a wonderful marketing opportunity. Using your expertise and passion for your niche, combined with some effective keyword targeting, you’ll be able to create exclusive and engaging content that users can find only on your website.
If you have any doubt, consider our Nerd Fitness example from earlier in this article. What seems like a low-interest niche now generates thousands of clicks successfully every week almost exclusively through content.
To further boost the quality of your content, invest in creating high-quality graphics and videos. Visual media helps to drive engagement, while also giving you content you can repurpose through alternative sources like social media.
Get Connected with Social Media
Social media rules the world with about 72% of the public conversing with one another online. Users frequently discuss their passions and interests on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They also frequently discuss and interact with their favorite brands.
Presenting a face for your brand on social media is one of the best ways to establish genuine rapport and trust with your target audience. It allows for more freeform discussion, while also granting you a timeline to share your news, custom content, and reactions to the latest trends.
Similar to what we discussed with content marketing, a niche community like yours is likely to seek each other out online to share their interests. By identifying those niche communities that match your brand, you can engage in discussion and share your website content with those that will most appreciate it.
Once users get their hand on your creative content, they’ll begin to do some of your marketing for you by sharing it with their followers. This will help to expand your reach and help you generate new traffic from sources that have yet to interact with your website.
Get Acquainted with Your Competitors
In high-volume niches, things can naturally become a bit more cut-throat as businesses try to exist alongside powerful competitors.
Because your niche is already low-volume for all involved parties, you may be able to aid each other through collaboration.
When it comes to everyday needs such as electronics, it’s much more common for customers to choose a brand and remain loyal. That business promises a huge selection and provides them with everything they could need.
When the niche is smaller, those options become far more limited.
As a result, the buying habits of these types of customers tend to change. Consider what was previously a low-volume niche (and in many ways, still is) – Dungeons and Dragons accessories. In its original days, there simply wasn’t much to purchase aside from a set of dice and the officially licensed textbooks.
The game since exploded thanks to popular media franchises. Smaller brands that sell similar D&D accessories like Wyrmwood and Elderwood Academy both simultaneously benefitted from similar audiences that love the niche.
Likewise, your niche audience is likely to spend money with your brand and related brands so long as the quality of your products and services is there. It can be a case of rising tides raising all boats on their journey to success.
Perform some social outreach and connect with competitors that are also trying to carve their name out in the online space. Both websites will likely see a benefit by sharing audiences to improve your SEO.
Conclusion – There’s Room to Succeed Even in a Low-Volume Niche
Though it might prove to be more challenging at times, there is plenty of proof that low-volume niches can conquer SEO.
It’s not necessarily important to generate huge traffic numbers like Amazon. Rather, you need to implement SEO strategies that can better connect you with the high-qualified leads that want to purchase your products and services.
Google’s algorithm is better than it ever has been at understanding the true meaning and intent of a user query. It can successfully yield spot-on results to users no matter how strange or obscure the search query happens to be. Your job is to identify how to communicate your brand to Google to help facilitate this process.
Remember – improving your search rankings and SEO does not happen without a time investment and painstaking consistency. By putting in the work and adhering to what we know works, you can carve out a path for your brand to succeed in your low-volume niche.