A few questions on qualifying and researching niches

Meos

BuSo Pro
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
4
Degree
0
Background
I have identified a vertical and niche I could enter (based on it being in the intersection of:
a) what I'm good at​
b) what I love​
c) what pays well​

I've gone through The Digital Strategy Crash Course, and I'm now in the process of qualifying and doing research on it in order to:
1) Identify competitors and the potential of the niche*​
2) Identify monetization methods and potential of the niche*​
3) Identify commercial keywords and potential of them**​
4) Identify potential risks / downsides / major potential issues (ie. E-A-T) and identify how I will address these​
5) Identify potential outsized upsides (communities, proven monetizations, easy customer groups) and key actions / directions to exploit these​
6) Identify and solve pain points - where is the gap among all my competitors that I can slide into?​

Notes (* and **):
When I speak of potential of the niche I mean "there is potential to achieve my long term goal ($1,000,000 exit in 5 years)" which I will validate by finding sites which has already had such exits or could've had it.

It also means that there must be a feasible entry into the niche which I will validate by finding enough low competition key words and sites for me to claw my way into the rankings

When I speak of commercial keywords and potential of them I mean to say that there are an abundance of high CPC commercial keywords in the niche (as per the AIDA-framework), and that there is a feasible way for me to create an AIDA-funnel without too much competition.


When I have done this I intend to summarize and conclude on whether I should go with the niche I have identified at this point.

A few questions on qualifying and researching niches

1. In the plethora of tools to use for competitor- and keywords analysis I'm going with ahrefs: any objections or other recommendations?

2. What are some typical red flags / major issues which are usually not identified early enough?
I have already identified E-A-T being one, and having a plan for how I will address this is one of the key delivarables for this stage.

3. I've been through most of the resources here at buildersociety and a few other places, but I still find it very difficult to evaluate whether a niche is too competative, have large barriers for entry, and just generally assess a niche's potential. I intend to make my research publically available and elicit feedback from the community in order to make this call. Is this a good approach?
 

bernard

BuSo Pro
Joined
Dec 31, 2016
Messages
1,675
Likes
1,313
Degree
4
Hey, you should do a Laboratory thread when you write detailed stuff like this, would be interesting to follow along.

Here are my answers on your questions:

1. Ahrefs

Yes, that's the one I use and 90% of people also use, some people use SEMRush and various keyword tools. Which also means everyone sees the same data and keywords, so everyone will go after the same keywords.

That's not a problem, but Ahref is not the perfect tool, it takes a while for new trends to get updated. For scale though, I don't think there's a better tool.

2. Red flags

Well, I've had success and also some big time failures.

Let me consider my most recent failures and what I learned from it:

Niche 1: I overestimated the difficulty of working in a niche you don't care about and I underestimated how some niches are extremely nerdy.

In my case it was kitchen tools and I am just not that into cooking and I am definitely not into "kitchen tech".

I say kitchen "tech", because that's how I missed the red flag. I thought cooking was more of an art thing, but I now realize the nerds have taken it over and when nerds move in, it becomes a lot more difficult to do good buyers guides, because the bar to become an "expert" is way higher.

So that's one thing to look at, is there some hidden nerd/expert factor in the niche, which would require you to become an expert?

Niche 2: Non-evergreen niches that require constant updating. This could be something like interior design or tech.

I want to stay far away from these generally, because they require constant updates on content and it is just more difficult to scale.

It's also an issue with not being able to monetize older content, old content has basically zero affiliate value if its non-evergreen because no one will want last years fashion.

3. Niche difficulty

You shouldn't disclose your niche, don't do it, many copycats.

You'll learn how challenging a niche is with experience. I tend to look at if the niche has many multi-platforms or not. If it has blogs, instagrammers, youtubers, websites, podcasts etc, then it is competetive. I realize most niches and interests have this, but for some of your particular topics, is what I mean. Is there a youtube video for every single little question? Difficult niche.
 

Meos

BuSo Pro
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
4
Degree
0
Hey, you should do a Laboratory thread when you write detailed stuff like this, would be interesting to follow along.
Will do this once I get going and I have anything of substance to journal.

2. Red flags

Well, I've had success and also some big time failures.

Let me consider my most recent failures and what I learned from it:

Niche 1: I overestimated the difficulty of working in a niche you don't care about and I underestimated how some niches are extremely nerdy.

In my case it was kitchen tools and I am just not that into cooking and I am definitely not into "kitchen tech".

I say kitchen "tech", because that's how I missed the red flag. I thought cooking was more of an art thing, but I now realize the nerds have taken it over and when nerds move in, it becomes a lot more difficult to do good buyers guides, because the bar to become an "expert" is way higher.

So that's one thing to look at, is there some hidden nerd/expert factor in the niche, which would require you to become an expert?

Niche 2: Non-evergreen niches that require constant updating. This could be something like interior design or tech.

I want to stay far away from these generally, because they require constant updates on content and it is just more difficult to scale.

It's also an issue with not being able to monetize older content, old content has basically zero affiliate value if its non-evergreen because no one will want last years fashion.

3. Niche difficulty

You shouldn't disclose your niche, don't do it, many copycats.

You'll learn how challenging a niche is with experience. I tend to look at if the niche has many multi-platforms or not. If it has blogs, instagrammers, youtubers, websites, podcasts etc, then it is competetive. I realize most niches and interests have this, but for some of your particular topics, is what I mean. Is there a youtube video for every single little question? Difficult niche.
Thank you so much for your indepth and thoughtful reply! Its incredibly valuable for a newbie like me to hear others experiences. I will definitely keep the things you mentioned in mind when qualifying the niches.
 

Ryuzaki

お前はもう死んでいる
Moderator
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
5,126
Likes
9,815
Degree
9
When I speak of potential of the niche I mean "there is potential to achieve my long term goal ($1,000,000 exit in 5 years)" which I will validate by finding sites which has already had such exits or could've had it.

It also means that there must be a feasible entry into the niche which I will validate by finding enough low competition key words and sites for me to claw my way into the rankings

If you think about verticals first, you won't have much of an issue being able to have a million dollar exit. Instead of thinking about: Blenders, Bench Presses, Circular Saws, Husky Dogs... you should be thinking about: Kitchen, Weight Lifting, Wood Working, Dogs.

The benefit is, even if you don't cover every possibly piece of content, you're leaving room for a buyer to keep expanding horizontally within the vertical. Niches are within the Vertical. Choosing a big vertical solves a lot of problems you mention in the bottommost quote below. I'll go into it more there.

1. In the plethora of tools to use for competitor- and keywords analysis I'm going with ahrefs: any objections or other recommendations?

Ahrefs and Semrush are popular choices. I've not dug into Semrush much myself, and have continued to use Ahrefs which provides everything I need.

SERPWoo provides a bird's eye view "god mode" view of the SERPs and has a great Keyword Research tool that's a great supplement to what you'll find elsewhere. It's great for finding out keywords that all the top 5 or whatever rank for (meaning if they don't all rank for it, you filter it out). These are nearly "freebie keywords" for you to use in your article.

3. I've been through most of the resources here at buildersociety and a few other places, but I still find it very difficult to evaluate whether a niche is too competative, have large barriers for entry, and just generally assess a niche's potential. I intend to make my research publically available and elicit feedback from the community in order to make this call. Is this a good approach?

You want a huge, scary, big vertical. It scares people away and the big boys can't do much small work because it's not "worth their time" and there's too much bureaucracy. That means there's plenty of space for you to sneak in and take down zillions of low competition keywords. (Just don't get into YMYL niches with EAT problems).

I mean... you know what's viable or not because you're an adult that's been alive. Yes, you can do a full blown scientific mathematical model to determine some viability metric you create. Or you can just be like "well, no shit Home & Garden is viable." And "of course, Tech is viable."

There's not a lot of financial barriers to entry online. The real barriers are in your head. Are you willing to do the work or not? Are you willing to wear a ton of hats and become a marketer, link builder, content producer, decent web dev, etc.? It's all about how stubborn (in a good and bad way) you want to be, how flexible you are mentally, and if you're willing to put everything into it in every way that's needed (not just the ways you want).

Of course you can bite off more than you can chew, but you're already aware of the stuff to avoid like health, finance, and so forth.

I think, too, it's always good advice to start a project that's not too hefty, and see it through to the end. People get caught up in all this analysis (paralysis) because they can't see the forest from the trees. They don't have the cartography down. They don't know the lay of the land. And when you don't know what's involved, you can spend forever sharpening your axe instead of swinging it at the tree.

You'll learn as you go, pick up skills and experience and understanding, by going through the whole process once. I don't mean giving up and starting the next one, chasing shiny nickels, whatever. I mean committing to a project that's achievable and getting it done. Finishing is the goal and the success, not worrying about failure, etc. Build it, market it, do the thing, sell it for $100, $500, $70,000, whatever. There's no substitution for getting in the trenches. People want there to be and that's why you can sell courses for gobs of cash to people that never end up doing anything with them.
 

Meos

BuSo Pro
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
4
Degree
0
Thank you very much for your motivating insights, @Ryuzaki. I can totally get behind your message.

You want a huge, scary, big vertical. It scares people away and the big boys can't do much small work because it's not "worth their time" and there's too much bureaucracy. That means there's plenty of space for you to sneak in and take down zillions of low competition keywords. (Just don't get into YMYL niches with EAT problems).
The first niche I'm working on qualifying is a YMYL-niche. One of the items I need to tick off before moving forward is how I intend to handle that. Based on your response it seems like a terrible idea?

The niche I have identified is in the intersection of what I believe is a) what I'm good at, b) what I love, and c) what pays well.

While the niche does not have any specific overlap with my professional life (9-5) I believe creating content and doing research can add value to my professional life as well (this means even when I fail 2 years down the road I will most likely have derived some value from the exercise).

As previously mentioned I lack experience with respect to creating websites (no marketing-, programming-, website-, or design experience). My main strengths going forward is:
  • Having business acumen from 9-5
  • Good project management skills
  • Funds to invest (I've set aside $10,000 to start, more than happy to increase this amount should this be required)
  • Decent niche-specific knowledge (pain points, challenges)

---
Inital niche research..

After about 5 focused hours I've started on qualifying my first niche. I gotta say its both incredibly exciting and.. somewhat frustrating at the same time. As a newbie its really difficult to know what to focus on. So far I've signed up for ahrefs and started doing my research.

I've identifed 67 competitors (some are barely just touching the niche, but is operating in the vertical). So far I've gone through about 20 of them. A blurred screenshot of the spreadsheet shows the items of interest and level of detail - any feedback would be much appriciated.

lvwPfhW.png

My reasoning for working with the following items of interest is as such:

Domain Rating: Speaks to the sites authority and is used as a proxy to rank vs other pages
Total traffic: Get this number from similarweb.com (unreliable I know) - used to gauge size of market
Organic traffic: Used to guage traffic potential (relative to other site stats)
Organic keywords: Used to guage how well the site has exploited the traffic potential in the niche
Number of pages (current pages / maximum pages last 24 months): Used to guage how focused a site is, how I should/could plan my content strategy, speaks to what content stratgies works
Top 3 (# of keywords which has position 1-3): Speaks somewhat to general keyword difficulty, possible content strategy and keywords to focus on
Referring Domains: Used to guage backlink profile - I also check the referring domains to identify potenial link opportunities
Notes (most important section): I take note of items of interest (is the site effective at what it tries to do? What does it do well? What does it not do well? How does it solve EAT? Do I have the resources to do what it does better? Anything in particular that sticks out?
Monetization: Correlation with how the site is planned out, what content it has, what has the biggest upside, how quickly can I expect positive cashflow?

---
Key takeaways so far..
I've already established some key takeaways from my research and gotten some ideas which I can use later.

After going through about 1/3 of my competitors one of my key takeaways is "Holy shit, I can definitely crush these guys (..or atleast compete!)"

This exercise is also incredibly educational for me, as the distinctly different content stratgies caters to its specific monetization strategy (or the other way around).

I've also found that two of the better performing sites is run and operated by the same team (different branding, same modus operandi), and that even though this is a YMYL-niche most of the relatively successful sites doesnt do a good job of asserting EAT.

And one final positive finding is that one of the sites has already been sold to a large marketing agency (and experienced a 80% traffic drop just after being sold, but have since recovered).