How to Analyze Niche Site Competitors: Pivot and Avoid Traps

Often times as internet marketers we’re blinded by SEO metrics, new email services, and some snazzy plugins but we miss what's really important for niche marketing.

Yes, SEO is important to be aware of before entering a niche, but we can't rely purely on those metrics. Take a holistic approach with your niche analysis and you’ll be much better off.

Ask yourself - how best can I serve this audience?

niche research

For a complete look at competitor analysis, let's go over four areas to help us determine if a niche is worth our time, money and sweat equity.

What You'll Learn Today

  • How to determine if money is circulating in your niche
  • If it's possible to outrank your Competitors
  • Different levels of Competitors
  • check
    How better marketing can and will go a long way
  • check
    What to do when your niche isn't that great

Let's talk about money.​

The first aspect we should consider is whether people are spending money AND making money.

It’s important for us to be rewarded for our work and we would rather avoid those horror stories of site builders who have tons of traffic but can’t figure out how to monetize their visitors.

Three questions we can ask are:

1) Are people buying products or services?

The best niches are those that are growing and have a barrier to entry in order to participate.

For instance, if you want to start playing tennis regularly then you'll need to get yourself at least a racket and possibly some balls.

Someone might head to their local tennis shop and see what’s up for grabs and look for talk knowledgeable in the sport. If they don’t find what they want or the prices are too high then they might check out Amazon.

The review system on Amazon gives newbies looking to enter a new hobby something to read. There are usually two types of people that buy products, someone who wants instant gratification and will purchase based on very little research and the other buyer would research everything before making a final decision, no matter the price.

We need to cater to both buyers and achieve this through outstanding design along with excellent copywriting.

If you still unsure if money is circulatin in your niche then head over to Clickbank and what types of informational products are available. You can find products that help people quit smoking and even woodworking.

Clickbank has a metric called Gravity for all of their products, so you can see which products are selling the best.

There’s also good ol’ Google, search your topic and include "affiliate program" at the end of the phrase to find affiliate programs. For example "dog training affiliate program".

If you can’t find any affiliate programs, then should consider entering another niche because this one may not be profitable enough. Of course, for these example's we are mostly talking about affiliate marketing - not the next AirBnB.

Heading into an already established niche and then making different products to serve those people is a much more reliable and sound strategy. You're product will enter the conversation your buyers are already having.

2) Who’s making money?

Take a look around and see how the big dogs are making a living.

Are there books on the subject, podcasts, training classes, online courses, blogs with ads and affiliate links, consultants?

Tyler Basu from LifeStyle Business Magazine dives deeper into this point in his podcast below.

Suggested listenings:
How to Identify If a Niche is Making Money​

3) Are there extra funds available for advertising?

Let's head over to Google and search a few phrases.

If we type in "doggie diapers", will we find some advertisers on the results page?

If we do find advertisers, this is great! It means that people are getting enough return on their advertising spend to continue feeding their 'advertising machine'.

On another note, a lot of people get stuck on high 'costs per click' and 'high advertiser competition' but nowadays, those ads are "retargetted" and the subject of your site won’t necessarily correlate with the ads displayed.

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You never quite know exactly how much you'll be making if someone clicks on one of your ads and that’s why concentrating on Amazon sites is a great platform for beginners.

It’s a definitive path to monetization and we also benefit from Amazon’s conversion focused website. Jeff Bezos and his team pump millions of dollars into Amazon to make sure everyone coming to their site is leaving with something they'll love.

Looking offline can also be quite lucrative. The majority of advertising dollars is spent outside of the internet and into traditional places such as television and radio.

Start paying attention to the billboards along the road. Be attentive to the mail you receive. You never know what type of businesses are out there. I remember not that long ago finding an ad for children’s cooking parties. Sounds like an interesting niche to me!

Suggested Readings:
An Old-School Way of Coming Up With Website Ideas

Can we get on the first page of Google?

As much as I wanted to skip this, it's almost inherent for internet marketers to be familiar with SEO - especially because we're targeting certain keywords to build our site upon. We want to make an educated estimate of how competitive a niche is before we enter it.

Anytime we look at search engine results for competitive analysis, we need to think from the perspective of the users intent and also the intent of Google to serve their own customers. 

Here are three questions to ask ourselves:

1) Is there enough search volume?

There's going to be a few 'must have' keywords you'll want your site to rank for. When you group those terms together, do you see enough traffic to move forward?

It's your duty to find as many high volume, low competition keywords as possible. You'll want to be well over 1000 local monthly searches for your main keywords. They are going to be the foundation for which your new site will lay.

2) Can you outrank your competitors?

Without diving too deeply into the subject matter, consider stepping into the shoes of the Google user.

Are the results satisfying enough for me to feel like I got what I'm looking for?

How about the quality of links pointing to your competitors?

Are the exact words being used in the page title? If you find low-quality websites showing up everywhere then you might have yourself a winner.

A highly competitive niche would have several sites with many links from authoritative sites such as Forbes, Huffington post or CNN.

No keyword is impossible to rank for because with enough sweat and tears, you can get there but putting your efforts into less competitive places first will help you make money quicker - which is why we all here right?

Just to be clear, the first page of Google usually contains 10 results. Which means that someone has to move out there in order for you to come in.

Suggested Readings:
Is Your Niche Going To Stick?

3) How far from you is the transaction?

Are the keywords you'd like to compete for 'in the money'?

Both those questions ask if your website is the last one a customer sees before pulling out their credit card and making that all important purchase.

Certain phrases that are associated in the later stages of a buyer’s journey is where you want to be. These are called money keywords. Words such as "best", "review", or "vs" are examples of what you want to rank for. Often times, these results have affiliate sites just like yours.

If your website is where a customer is pulling out their wallet and buying a product - then you'll be making the most money. If you're the second last website they see and Amazon is where they complete the transaction, then you'll be one step away from the money - but at least Amazon gives you a cut of the action.

How Many Levels of Competition Exist?​

Competitors exist in tiers. There can be big authority sites, small sites, and lots in between. The more competitors you find in the middle - the better for you. It means there are enough people making money from their websites in order to stick it out and keep generating revenue from a certain audience.

Also, consider whether your niche is evergreen or trendy.

Subjects like health, wealth, and dating are always going to be around but something trendy like 3d printers or nootropics may not be.  I wouldn’t say either is better but you’ll just have to think how big you want to grow your site. If you're early on a trendy and cool niche and that eventually turns evergreen - you'll be rewarded handsomely for sticking it out all the way. People underestimate creativity when searching for a niche.

Spencer Haws and his team over at NichePursuits.com have talked about finding Doppelgangers. These are model sites for you to replicate for every tier. Find strong and mid-tier competitors to emulate and network with.

Still not sure if your niche is right for you? Here are some examples of good and bad niches plus how to find those illustrious doppelgangers.

Suggested Readings:
Best Niches of the Year
Finding Doppelgangers
Good & Bad Niche Examples

Build upon what's missing out there.

improving niche research

As you become familiar with your competitors, remember to be cognizant of how they inform their audience and what types of products they offer.

Can you beat these guys with better marketing or a better product?

Consider Brian Deans Skyscraper approach for determining if you already have a big leg up from the competition. If spammy AdSense sites are all over the place, then you’ll offer something done tastefully and modern.

Do you believe there is a certain part of that audience that isn't being served?

Many sites have started in the sub-niche and expanded from there. That's what many modern Authority sites have built themselves on, one 'silo' at a time.

Do all the sites look the same too?

If the big brands all use the same colors, then you might want to stick to that as well. But consider adding your own flair to create a branded asset that people will remember and come back to.

Suggested Readings:
Beating Competitors with the Skyscraper Approach

One Quick Tip

A clear path to monetization should be at the top of your mind when searching for niches.
We instill that same thought process with every site we build.

Everything Checks Out, Now What Should I do?

If the competition looks great, people are making money, there's room for improvement then it’s time to take action. Start setting out traffic and income goals.

How many people do you think will come to your site based on your competition's strongest web pages and how much do you think you’ll earn each month?

Many of you are probably in the market for a custom site by now and we'd love to build it for you! We are affiliate marketing experts and we'll rock out your new website with the best internet plugins and designs necessary for success.

If this competitor analysis has left you at a dead end then look at it in a positive light. You haven’t invested too many hours and now you can select a niche through high-level lenses.

Suggested Readings:​
How to Start a Fitness Blog
How to Start a Dating Site
How to Start a Health Blog

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