By answering both of those questions, you determine your website’s niche. Why is this important? Once you know your niche, you can build content for your site that fits it perfectly. The right content will help the search engines understand what keywords are relevant for your site. When searchers use the right keywords, you’ll appear higher in the search results – leading not only to more visitors, but more targeted traffic.
Another positive effect to knowing your niche is knowing your competition. When you know which other companies market their products and services in the same niche, you can look at what they do and find ways to do it better. Or you can position yourself as different from them in important ways that a customer would value.
A third benefit to knowing your niche is actually cutting down on the competition. Let me give you an example. Google turns up 304 million hits for the search term “dogs.” Put in “dog training” (without quotes), and you get a little under 63 million hits. If you get even more specific and go with “dog training orlando fl” (again, without quotes), and you’ll see 465,000 hits. That’s still a lot, of course, but it’s much less than 304 million!
So how do you determine your niche? Well, obviously, it helps to get specific. Say you sell dog treats. Is there anything special about the dog treats you sell that differentiates them from, say, dog treats that a pet owner can buy at Pet Smart? And if so, what? Just off the top of my head, I can think of a ton of possibilities:
- You’re a retired (or current) veterinarian, and you’ve drawn on your training to come up with the perfect recipes.
- You’ve gone to great pains to make sure all of your ingredients are especially wholesome and “organic.”
- You make custom treats for animals with allergies or sensitivities.
- You provide your recipes so pet lovers can make the treats themselves if they want to. This is a little like a u-pick-it blueberry farm selling blueberry bushes; sure, the regulars love blueberries, but even if they grow them at home, they’ll still want to come around and pick yours, because they can’t grow them at home as conveniently or in the same quantities as they can get by going to you.
- Your treats are specifically aimed at improving some aspect of a dog’s life: reducing excess weight, improving their teeth, increasing their energy, etc.
- You send a portion of the profits from your sales to a local no-kill animal shelter.
Whatever the case, once you figure out specifically where your product or service fits, you can start thinking about the right keywords for your site. This is important not just for your site’s content, but if you should decide to advertise in Google. It will help you target your ads correctly, which will make it more likely that searchers will click through to visit your site.
Now that you have a specific image in your head of what you’re offering, your next step is to picture the kind of person to whom your product will most appeal. For dog treats, your obvious market is dog lovers, but that’s pretty general. I’m a dog lover myself, but I don’t own a dog. I know several people who do own dogs, but I’m relatively unlikely to buy treats for their dogs.
This narrows your market down to dog lovers who actually own dogs. How much more specific can you get? That depends on how you’ve positioned yourself in your niche. If you offer treats designed to help dogs with food issues, then you’ll want to reach owners with the wherewithal – and desire – to take care of such animals. That doesn’t mean that you can make them ridiculously expensive, but it suggests some avenues you might pursue for promotion. Perhaps your local veterinarian’s office might be a good contact to help you reach dog owners who can benefit from your treats.
How should you proceed? I’d suggest pursuing several channels at once. On your website, you should make sure your content explains the kinds of issues dogs might have with food allergies and sensitivities, and how your dog treats are better than the kind a dog owner can buy elsewhere for such problems. Maybe you can get some comments from satisfied customers whose dogs have improved thanks in part to your dog treats.
With a local veterinarian, you might offer to leave some small bags of treats in the office for free if they’re okay with it – along with your contact information and website URL on each bag, of course. If your vet agrees that you make some high quality dog treats, you might even get him or her to write an endorsement for your site. Such a testimonial from a respected authority figure can really boost your credibility in the eyes of your visitors.
However you approach is, the point is to find your site’s niche and create content that is appropriate to that niche. At the same time, you need to find the niche that represents the people who would be interested in buying your product, find out where they’re likely to be (in real life and online), and reach out to them with a message that shows you have what they need to solve their problem. That’s the basic formula for website promotion; the specifics will depend on your answers to the questions I posed at the very beginning. Good luck!