Q: Why is selecting your niche such an important step?
A: Niche marketers depend on organic search for traffic.
Sure you can supplement search with social traffic and even some strategic paid advertising – but for most niche affiliates, search is the number one traffic source. To succeed in many niches, you need keywords on page 1.
So niche selection, based on SEO criteria, is a critical first step for your venture.
If you start with too broad a niche you will not be able to compete with the existing players who dominate the first few pages of Google search results. If you have too narrow a niche you will have too small an audience and fewer affiliate offerings to choose from.
You need to find your Goldilocks niche.
Niches to Avoid
There are niches I would avoid, particularly for new marketers. In August of 2018 Google search released the medic update. It dramatically affected organic rankings for health, fitness, and medical websites. All of a sudden marketers had to confront two new acronyms. YMYL and EAT. YMYL is short for Your Money Your Life. Google decided that too many sites in the health, nutrition, medicine were not serving their search visitors well. This is not surprising. These and financial related niches have historically been some of the best-performing sites. Ad rates were high for ad-driven sites and conversions were strong for these niches. Google wants to be sure that sites they send their search customers to are run by real authorities in these niches that affect people’s lives.
Enter EAT. EAT is short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. EAT is covered in some detail in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Though there is some question as to ranking signals for EAT it goes hand in hand with YMYL. Basically, if you are in a niche that is governed by YMYL you need to show you are a measurable authority and expert in the field.
There is just too much Google scrutiny and oversite of these YMYL niches. If you are a retired doctor or CPA, a true authority in a field, you may want to focus on a YMYL site. Others should probably just stay away for now.
Profitable niches with low competition
This is the ultimate goal. Profits require traffic, traffic requires being on page one of Google search results page for as many buying keywords as possible. The niche with the highest search traffic that you can compete for is the target.
But how do you find a great niche idea?
Finding the Ideal Affiliate Niche
There are 4 steps we use to find a profitable niche:
- Brainstorming — Hobbies, passions, trends
- Problems, Products and Profits — You need to solve an audience problem in a niche with profitable products to represent.
- Keyword Validation — You need a niche with keywords that have enough search volume that you can rank for.
- Competition — Launching a niche affiliate site dominated by national brands will be difficult.
Affiliate marketing can be a grind – particularly niche SEO marketing. You aren’t driving traffic with ads which can give you quick results – at a cost of course.
It’s the long game.
So with niche marketing, it is very useful to choose a niche that you have some expertise in and enjoy. Unless you plan to outsource the writing, go with something you have a passion for. You want something that won’t be a chore to update and maintain.
Topically think of these characteristics as you brainstorm. Go wide at this point and be very inclusive of ideas. You will refine the list later …
- A trending or evergreen topic that interests you
- Something you have or can acquire expertise in
- Something that you are passionate about and be motivated to research and write about.
- A Niche with growth potential (careful with domain names that are too restrictive in this area)
- Something you are good at
Next, let’s take that free-flowing list of ideas and validate them.
PPP – Problems, Products, Profits
You want to find your niches problems that you can help with, introduce your audience to beneficial products and make a profit via affiliate commissions.
You want to be an authority in your niche. The goto person for all information about your topic. You need to be there to help people with problems they are having related to the niche. What are the pain points? What is difficult that you can make easy? What problems can you provide a solution for? This will drive your content marketing strategy.
You are planning to monetize your niche by recommending products that are beneficial to your audience. You need to research if there are enough products to develop content around. Definitely check out Amazon but don’t stop there. Consider digital marketplaces like ClickBank and JV Zoo. Checkout ShareASale and other physical marketplaces. We have lots of program information in the affiliate marketing programs section.
You want to make money right? Be sure to consider the commission rate, not just the product price. For instance, if you are targeting Amazon, the commissions are based on the product category. The range is from 0% to 10%. This makes Home Improvement at 8% much more interesting than PCs at 2.5%. If you sell 10,000 of home improvement and pc products your commissions would be:
Home Improvement: $10,000 * 8% = $800
Personal Computers: $10,000 * 2.5% = $250
Take a look at the commission rate chart …
Don’t rely 100% on Amazon. However, it is a great starting point, they WILL have products for your niche.
Always check if there are higher commission rate products like info products, software, training etc. These products always have a higher commission rate. You can add these later as part of your content marketing strategy. Always be extra careful with these offers. Unlike Amazon, you need to vet these products and vendors.
Know your audience.
A damaged reputation is not worth a few dollars of commissions.
Now you have a shortlist. Time to crunch some keyword data.
Niche Keyword Validation
There is no recipe that you can use to find your perfect niche. The process is generally to evaluate your niche with keyword research tools. To then review competition for the niche. I also check the trend of the keyword. You want to avoid a down-trending niche, knowing this is a long game strategy. There are lots of free and premium keyword research tools out there. Here is a roundup of Keyword Research tools for affiliate marketers.
I find it best to be able to quickly browse a topic for ideas from the brainstorming. I don’t want to be bouncing in and out of a keyword research tool while I look for possible niches. Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome or Firefox addon that lets you see keyword volume and more while browsing. I start looking at head keywords then check some buying keywords. In Keywords Everywhere there is a Keyword Keg icon. Select that for related keywords to explore. I consider products, price points, niche expansion to authority, as I am exploring the niche.
Then check each keyword for the following 3 things:
- head keyword — This is the topic description
- buying keyword — Best “head keyword”
- “allintitle:” buying kw –A variable from KGR methodology
For example …
Keywords Everywhere Enabled Search
Google Search (Keywords Everywhere enabled):
barber scissors – 6,600 Searches per month
best barber scissors – 480 Searches per month
allintitle: Best Barber Scissors – 93 Searches per month
The related keywords and searches seem to have some decent additional volume.
This passes the first hurdle. Though the buying keyword volume is low it may be a good entry to an authority site. Competitive issues need to be checked closely.
Move through this second step with multiple items from the brainstorming. You will find yourself quickly comparing some of them, getting excited about some, eliminating others.
Then with a shortlist of niches move onto some detailed investigations.
Confirm with additional keyword research
Another free keyword evaluation tool to validate with is kwfinder though you only get 2 free lookups per day.
There are lots of keyword research tools that you can use. Here is a roundup of free and premium keyword research tools for affiliates. If you have access to ahref or SEMrush run your keywords through those tools and validate the numbers. Keywords Everywhere does a good job at relative search volumes but I would try to confirm with these tools which have more data.
In addition to keyword volumes, I check niche prospects with Google Trends – avoid down-trending topics.
Continue to poke at the keywords with your tools of choice. I would check the following and explore the keywords:
Check potential article topics for your content marketing plan. Find more buying keywords. Look for places where you can add value. Consider the 3 Ps from above: Problems, Products, Profits as you explore.
When you are satisfied with your keyword prospects you still need to check the competition.
4 – Competitive Analysis
Even when you find a great niche, in a topic you know well you must consider the competitive landscape. You want to check at least the top 10 search results for your keywords.
Are they all large household names? — You are competing for a spot in the top 10 results. If each of these is a large organization with big budgets, writers, editors, marketing staff, designers – it will be very difficult to displace these sites because of their size and site history.
What is their Moz domain authority? — Install the Mozbr tool in Chrome. This will show you the authority of the competitive websites. When your site is born it will be in the 5-10 range. You can’t realistically compete with 45+ DA sites until you get lots of content and backlinks and raise your DA. Look for sites < 35.in the top 10 search results. These are newer sites that you can compete with.
Read the articles – can you do better? — You need to be committed to making the best content related to your niche. Look at the posts in the top 10. Can you make a better, more in-depth, more up-to-date article? If you can’t then that article will always rank above you.
The same process would apply for other types of niche affiliate sites that focus on service or downloadable products. You will refine and adapt your own toolset, but the steps will remain …
- Brainstorm to find all the possibilities
- PPP – Evaluate the niche Problems – Products – Profit
- Keyword research – validate the amount of search traffic you can drive
- Competitive Research – Choose your battles. You can’t start by competing giants.
We have researched a number of niches. and maintain a list on our built-for-you page at Prosociate to give you some idea of granularity for product niches. Profitable Niches List