Wondering what a niche is, and how can you find yours? Google defines a niche as: “products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population”. That’s a bit abstract, but the chances are that you already have a good idea of what your niche is, and you just need to put it in words. Our guide will make it easy. Read on!

What is a niche?

Put simply, a niche is a smaller part of a market with specific needs. What does that mean in real terms? Check out this handy mnemonic we’ve come up with to help you understand what niches are all about:

  • N — a niche focusses on a narrower audience
  • I — a niche makes the most of your individuality
  • C — a niche focusses on your ideal customers
  • H — a niche product helps certain customers more than generic options
  • E — a niche sometimes evolves over time

Once you find your niche, you’ll have your own little corner of the market that you can dominate. The more specific the niche, the easier it is to rank. You are able to focus on long-tail keywords, meaning keywords or keyphrases that are more specific. And although these keywords get less search traffic, they tend to have a higher conversion value. Finding a niche goes hand-in-hand with good SEO strategy, and it can help you to gradually get more (of the right) traffic to your site!

Finding your niche step 1: Start with a category

If you want to find your niche, you’ll need to identify the main category that you’re working with and then narrow it down. Ideally, you want to find a niche that is not too general, but not so specific that you’re missing out on opportunities. Consider the examples below; they start with a general category, and then by adding more detail we can create various different niche versions:

General Niche Even more niche
Pizza Chicago-style pizza in London Vegan Chicago-style pizza in London
Shoes Orthopedic shoes in Georgia Tailor-made orthopedic shoes in Georgia
Music New folk music reviews blog New Basque folk music reviews blog
Loans Loans for young entrepreneurs Loans for young entrepreneurs under 21
T-shirts T-shirts for female gamers Retro t-shirts for female gamers

For now, you can just choose a general category. Then in the next steps to define your niche, you will analyze two key aspects of your website: your customers and your product. The more you know about your customers, the more you’ll learn about how they see your product. That can help you promote your product better, or perhaps even develop new products with their specific needs in mind.

Finding your niche step 2: Narrow your audience

Why target a smaller audience, rather than a bigger audience? The fact is, when you try to compete across a whole category, your attention to detail is limited, plus your audience contains a wide variety of people — that makes it harder for you to meet your audience’s needs, and it makes it difficult for you to stand out.

On the other hand, by identifying the kind of audience you want to target, you can make a much bigger impact. This is partly because the more niche you go, the less competition you will face, so it’s already easier to stand out. But knowing your niche also means you can identify your audience’s needs more easily and understand how your product helps them, too!

Trying to be all things to all people is never a wise choice, so it’s good to be selective. Still, although it is sensible to narrow down your audience, you don’t want to limit your success by narrowing it down too much. Doing some research can help you to compare the different niches you’re considering: you could estimate how many people might be interested, for instance, or how much competition there is already.

Read more: How to analyze your audience »

Who are your (ideal) customers?

It might help you to consider these kinds of questions: Are you (mainly) selling to the public, or to businesses? Where is your audience located? How old are the youngest and oldest people you think might be interested in your offering? Is there a large majority of a single gender in your audience, or is it a mixture? What kind of values do they have, and what kind of lifestyles?

If you already have an audience, you can carry out some user research to find out more about who these people are. Alternatively, you’re just starting, then you might need to use a bit of imagination and/or common sense to start exploring which audience you want to target. That’s okay just to get started (especially if you don’t have the time or budget to carry out a lot of research), but it’s no replacement for real data.

Finding your niche step 3: What’s your specialty?

A niche isn’t only about your audience — you also need to think about what your product is. It might seem a bit silly, but it’s important to really know your product to be able to find and narrow down your niche. Most likely, your offering already has some unique features. You can start simple: does your product look different from competing products, is it a different color or shape? Does it have additional features that other models don’t include? Where is your product available? Is it a luxury product, or a budget option?

When thinking about the features of your product or website, don’t forget that you’re part of the package too! (This can be especially important for bloggers). What gives you authority to talk about a particular topic? Perhaps you have specialist knowledge or personal experiences that make you different from your competition, or maybe you’re a local insider. Asking yourself questions like this will help you to build up a more detailed picture of what you’re offering to people.

How does your product help your niche customers more than a generic product?

If your business or blog is already up-and-running, it’s a good idea to do some user research. After all, the most effective way to understand your customers is to talk to your most satisfied ones! You could also check your biggest fans on social media, or take a look at the comments and reviews on your site. Are there a lot of enthusiastic people there? Try to contact them and talk to them about why they love your product.

Ask questions like: What problem did your product solve for them? Why did they choose your product over other competitors? What feature or characteristic of your product did they find most useful? And, which other options were they considering when researching similar products? In other words, who was your competition? You will find lots of valuable answers with this approach, some of which may surprise you! If you don’t have any customers yet, take a look at the what your competitors’ customers are saying about them instead.

The final step of finding your niche

Now you’ve spent some time considering your category, your audience and your product, it’s time to put it all together. It’s likely that you’ve come up with more details than you need for defining your niche. Pick out one or two details that really stand out to you, whether they’re features of your product or your audience. Add these details to your category and you should start seeing results that look a bit like the ones in our table. You can come up with as many options as you want to compare! Remember — your goal is to find a niche that’s not too general, but not so specific that you miss out on opportunities.

Examples: Orthopedic shoes and Chicago-style pizza

General Niche Even more niche
Pizza Chicago-style pizza in London Vegan Chicago-style pizza in London
Shoes Orthopedic shoes in Georgia Tailor-made orthopedic shoes in Georgia

Let’s look at the example with the orthopedic shoe shop first. Which niche is the most suitable? Well, if the shoe shop is only available in Georgia, then ‘orthopedic shoes in Georgia’ is probably the best choice. But let’s say they have an online shop, and can deliver anywhere in the US — in that case, ‘orthopedic shoe shop’ might be a better niche, or ‘orthopedic shoes online’ would be even better.

When it comes to the ‘tailor-made’ part, if that’s a special service they offer that isn’t available from most orthopedic shoe stores, then it is definitely a niche they should be targeting. What if nobody is looking for tailor-made orthopedic shoes? Then they might want to reconsider why they’re offering that service in the first place, rather than keeping the service and wondering about their niche!

To solidify the point with another example, let’s look at pizza. Say the shop is in London, and they do sell Chicago-style pizza, but they also sell other types of pizza too. Is the Chicago-style their specialty? Do customers make a special effort to choose their pizzeria because they want a Chicago-style pizza? If the answers to those kinds of questions is ‘yes’, then ‘Chicago-style pizza in London’ is a good choice of niche. However, if their Chicago-style pizza is just another menu item, while the customers rave about their vegan options… in that case a better niche might be ‘vegan pizza in London’.

Evolving niches: when should you re-evaluate?

One last thing about niches: they tend to evolve. Or perhaps I should say your business tends to evolve, and after a while your old niche might not ‘fit’ as well as it used to. If you sell fountain pens and find that a lot of people buy a certain brand, you might open a brand-specific online shop. And this can also work the other way around: if you expand to a certain niche and purchase a company (or domain name) in that niche, you have to make the consideration whether to merge it with your main website or maintain the specialized online shop apart from your main website. Therefore, the evolution of your niche could, or perhaps I should say should, be a continuous process. Be sure to monitor that evolution to keep the right focus!

Read more: The ultimate guide to small business SEO »

The post How to find your niche in 4 easy steps appeared first on Yoast.

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