Whether you own a blog or a traditional site, the road to niche domination is clear: traffic. A leader of a given niche has to actually be seen by the target audience. The best ideas are sometimes never found online because of insufficient exposure. Here are some tips to help you break in, move up, and take over your niche.
Like Google, users love fresh content. A stale website or blog isn’t going to gain many visitors unless your site is really, really good. Know the difference between data and information when it comes to your readers. Until processed, data is simply raw facts. Information, however, is the real goldmine to focus upon. Information is data that’s been processed for users. In a sense, data is akin to the ingredients for a good salad or a well done casserole, whereas information is the finished meal itself. Which one would your users rather have? The Internet is chock full of data just waiting to be turned into valuable information for your site’s visitors. This is the #1 secret of membership-driven websites and even books.
For example, you can learn how to get into copywriting, or even just how to become a better cook with free articles online, but many still buy books written by Bob Bly and Alton Brown, respectively.
Links are good, especially when they are links pointing to your website. However, do make sure you are linking to related sites. Visitors tend to trust sites that aren’t “digital islands”. Throw out the lifesaver to your visitors by linking to interesting content that you think will benefit them. Combined with good commentary, this can easily lead to you becoming the “expert” and information filter in your niche.
That said, be careful with your linkbacks. You may not wish to link to many sites that have unrelated content. It may be fair to link to a friend that has supported you and your website, but you don’t need to link to 2 million personal blogs simply because you know the blog’s owner.
Research your niche thoroughly and regularly
Keeping current is the name of the game, but how do you begin the journey? Research other sites within your niche, and pay attention to the details. What is the prevailing tone of the other sites? What are they doing, and is it successful for them? What news is being discussed on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis? If the niche has a parallel to the real world, are there any authorities that are making waves offline? Researching takes considerable time, but helps to set you apart from those that haven’t done their homework on the niche. Over time, the research you gain will bring you more visitors than if you just sit and piggyback off of what everyone else is saying and doing. Adapt some of the techniques of others if you feel they’re worth it, but don’t be afraid to bring your own flavor.
Go above and beyond
Researching your niche extensively should help you get over some common jitters, like fretting over PageRank. PageRank is only a small slice of the overall picture – if you’re worried about visibility, PageRank should be the last thing on your mind.
Your research into your niche should give you a good picture of what is working for the niche overall, what isn’t, and ways you can add value. Visitors like sites that go above and beyond just normal “reporting”. Release a video on your niche – if that’s something that would be interesting to your readers. If your site is technical, releasing code that does something a lot of people want to see can go a long way when it comes to sustaining traffic.
Looking at other sources of visibility also leaves questions for the site owner: do you have users searching for your blog in Technorati? If you are running a traditional website, how likely are your users to submit your site as a story on Digg? If a reader typed your website’s name into a site like Squidoo, what content would come up? All these questions are easily addressed once PageRank is put on the back burner where it belongs. After all, there’s so many elements of your website and its promotion that you can control; why worry about something out of your hands?
Go to the real trenches
Those at the top of their niche also know when to give back. If you’re aiming to be any type of subject matter expert, you’ll really want to check our relevant forums. What better way to move up and gain bonus points with existing and future visitors than if you’re on a forum sharing what you know? A quick search on Google should yield good results for forums relevant to your site’s niche.
If you can’t seem to find a solid community within your niche, take advantage of the void and build your own. Generate noise about it on your website, and frequent visitors to are bound to be curious.
It seems that any strategy of building up exposure online takes time, but those that are patient in this game truly come out on top. Building up a web presence isn’t going to be done overnight; there are some fortunate enough to do this, but don’t consider yourself entitled to overnight popularity. All good things come to those that wait, link popularity and site visibility included.
When not plotting niche domination, Isabella Murphy writes about small business, accounting, personal finance, and more on Keeping You Honest.