Let's Talk About Verticals / Niches

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I'm quite curious to hear some of the heavy hitter's thoughts on verticals and niches. Now, there's money everywhere when thinking about billion-dollar industries as a whole. Sure, but are there any verticals/niches that even the biggest breadwinners here would be hesitant to jump into? If so, what would deter you from jumping in or even dipping your toes in the water?

Are their niches that people think are worth getting into with ripe opportunity and if you had to start over, what and where would it be?

Lastly, I'm quite curious about people's take here and whether they're widely (and successfully) diversified across multiple verticals. I've made the majority of my money in a few verticals, but I've failed in many.

Note: I'm not trying to call out anyone in any space here or blow up people's spots/angles. Sure, billion-dollar industry's have plenty of room for all but that being said, probably best to refrain from pointing out specific sites if examples are provided.
 

Ryuzaki

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You have a few options:

Big verticals with a ton of users and money flowing through it.
This is the stuff we always think about: fitness, home and garden, finance, dating and love, self-help... all the big categories of life. The reason these are attractive is because people don't act like lunatics for the most part, there's always the slim pickings you can go after that the big players don't find worthwhile, and there's always room to grow, and it's attractive to buyers.

Small niches with less users and a metric ton of money flowing through it.
This is where you may be tempted to compete, but it's not going to go the way you think. This is payday loans, casino, sports betting, pharma, adult, etc. If you go into this thinking it's like the "categories of life" stuff, you're in for a surprise. You may treat it that way and start sliding up even the 2nd page before you start getting spammed to death, DDOS'd, doxx'd, threats appearing in your mailbox, your phone ringing, your server hacked and destroyed, etc.

Small sub-niches within verticals with less competition.
"I'm only going to target golf gloves instead of golf clubs, carts, bags, techniques, etc." This may seem like a decent choice because there's less competition and you can "finish" the site eventually and all that's left is marketing and links. Doing this is fine but you should never have a domain limited like "GolfGlovesHQ.com" when you could have "GolfEverythingHQ.com" instead. Starting small is good but you should never artificially limit yourself.

As far as niches that I'd be hesitant to get into, you wouldn't catch me dead in anything "YMYL" any more (your money, your life). Those have become purposefully over-competitive in the algorithm because Google can't afford to let a spammer climb up the ranks and cause someone to get hurt, etc. This is health, rehab, addiction, and even finance for me.

I also wouldn't get into anything that's possibly on the radar to be rolled up in the YMYL stuff. This is fitness, dieting, exercise, even pet health. Things like real estate, retirement, early retirement and financial freedom... I'm trying to think up more. There's a lot of stuff where people are going to get an apocalypse. It happened December 3rd through the 20th or so with fitness as far as I can tell and I'm sure other niches.

Tread carefully. You can compete in any big YMYL niches but you better be ready to work and spend some serious money breaking through the barrier.
 
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@Ryuzaki Thank you for the feedback here. I'm happy to share a small experience here hitting your YMYL comment. I'd consider CBD to be in the YMYL stuff. A while back I decided to dip my toes in the water there as a side project that I didn't really put too much effort into. I invested perhaps $5-8k, created a couple of hundred pieces of content, built links, got up to a DR 40+ and, the big boys ate my lunch of course. Also, it feels like Google tripped and pantsed me on the way down during one of the updates. So that's my tiny experience within the YMYL niches. I'll stick to living a healthy lifestyle instead of building sites on it. Bad luck? Perhaps. Give up too soon on low priced rev share products with pricing being driven down by saturation? Perhaps. Some people have done well and still do I'm sure, but not my cup of tea.
 
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As far as niches that I'd be hesitant to get into, you wouldn't catch me dead in anything "YMYL" any more (your money, your life). Those have become purposefully over-competitive in the algorithm because Google can't afford to let a spammer climb up the ranks and cause someone to get hurt, etc. This is health, rehab, addiction, and even finance for me.

I also wouldn't get into anything that's possibly on the radar to be rolled up in the YMYL stuff. This is fitness, dieting, exercise, even pet health. Things like real estate, retirement, early retirement and financial freedom... I'm trying to think up more. There's a lot of stuff where people are going to get an apocalypse. It happened December 3rd through the 20th or so with fitness as far as I can tell and I'm sure other niches.

Tread carefully. You can compete in any big YMYL niches but you better be ready to work and spend some serious money breaking through the barrier.

This is informative... What do you advise i do in this my case?
I have an animal site with both nutrition (food) and animal health contents, recently I thought about moving the contents away from the animal site and putting it in the health site (yes another YMYL site) but in a subdomain like pets.webmd.com
 

Ryuzaki

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This is informative... What do you advise i do in this my case?
I have an animal site with both nutrition (food) and animal health contents, recently I thought about moving the contents away from the animal site and putting it in the health site (yes another YMYL site) but in a subdomain like pets.webmd.com
I don't think you need to do anything. It's likely query specific, meaning your articles about "how to teach a dog to play fetch" will probably rank just fine while "does my dog have cancer" probably won't. But I don't think the health and nutrition articles will interfere with the non-YMYL keywords. I could be wrong. I haven't touched YMYL since all this landed. I got out and stayed out.
 
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I don't think you need to do anything. It's likely query specific, meaning your articles about "how to teach a dog to play fetch" will probably rank just fine while "does my dog have cancer" probably won't. But I don't think the health and nutrition articles will interfere with the non-YMYL keywords. I could be wrong. I haven't touched YMYL since all this landed. I got out and stayed out.
Alright thanks,
I just want to be safe... our health site is doing fairly well on other search engines
 
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Great to read your thoughts @Ryuzaki

I (I am sure many have) noticed the number of fitness related YouTube ads from people in their everyday life

Totally get where you are coming from, would you still avoid Fitness Equipment under the YMYL?

Many Thanks
 

Ryuzaki

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Totally get where you are coming from, would you still avoid Fitness Equipment under the YMYL?
I saw enough client fitness equipment sites tank in December that I started investigating further. It looked like a blood bath for nearly every site that didn't have an appreciable amount of content that wasn't completely bottom-of-the-funnel and didn't have respectable link metrics.

I'm talking -60 positions across the board. A blood bath. I saw it over and over and over. And of course, if someone's losing positions, someone else is gaining them since this is a zero sum game. The ones that gained are the kind you'd expect to with YMYL if you consider mainly just "trust" in terms of brand signals and link metrics.

There's also the rare anomalies that still rank with horrible domain names and so forth like we always see. Those are the kind you'd want to dig into and see what they're doing different that helped them survive. (Links, on-page, content intent ratios, brand signals, technical SEO, etc.)
 
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Thanks Ryuzaki

Its a shame as my main interests have always been fitness even at 46

However the main niche I am in is what I had results with back in 2009 and now doings things properly, but I certainly have more spark for the gym scene but.. as CCarter also says, its not about Google eh

Either way, great to have your input and great food for thought as we say in the UK :smile:
 
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I like large niches like health, finance, money making, etc... However, how I niche down is by researching thematic questions and trending topics. You can find pockets of high traffic where there is little competition. Then creating content that addresses the questions that gets the visitor closest to the sale.
 
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Hey Everyone

Following on as this still interests me and hopefully my question helps other's as new members come.

I have my niche from 2009 which I am working hard on, however its not a vertical I enjoy... I know.. I know.. but using it as a test if anything.

Aside from that, when it comes to a vertical from the Digital Crash Course, my only real interesting is fitnes/Gym/Weights - blah blah blah :smile:

Then we have the latest advice to avoid the YMYL verticals such as @Ryuzaki advised which I totally respect.

So what do you guys do if your only interests happen to be in the YMYL verticals..

... yup there is take it by the balls and go for it, or do you see a more strategic approach and go in a vertical you aren't that directly passionate about?

Very interested to hear some experienced thoughts
 

CCarter

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Aside from that, when it comes to a vertical from the Digital Crash Course, my only real interesting is fitnes/Gym/Weights - blah blah blah :smile:

Then we have the latest advice to avoid the YMYL verticals such as @Ryuzaki advised which I totally respect.

So what do you guys do if your only interests happen to be in the YMYL verticals..

It really really depends on how serious you are and how you want to gain traffic.

If your goal is "only SEO" then you are dead.

But if you are passionate about it, you would QUICKLY realize that fitness videos on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are HUGE. MASSIVE amounts of people are doing it and creating their brand around it.

If I was a fitness nut I would be creating videos like these two fitness girls:

https://instagram.com/realrubaali

https://instagram.com/sweet_fit_lana

They both live in one of my buildings. But the Ruba Ali one, I talked after her bike accident, really geniunely nice girl. I actually believe she is really interested in helping her audience. So Ali goes to my gym within our condo, they fucking film videos everywhere - in the gym, in another gym, in another other gym, in the courtyard, on a fucking yacht, on the fucking roof. Fucking everywhere. The lockdown had people getting really creative to create content.

It's not just her, every day at the gym one or two influencers are filming some fitness video - and I take the time to look them up on IG cause they tag the gym and location. Most have 100K to 3 or 4 million followers.

In her particular case after the videos she uploads them to mostly IG, and gain their following from there. She sells several things to her following and she's up to 1.2 million users just off of IG content strength.

Maybe she has a fucking website I don't know, but she's banking from all angles. Oh shit she does have a full fledge website with products and I believe a personal training course or something. Don't quote me.

Would she pass the YMYL snuff test by Google, yeah. She's got tons of videos on YouTube, Twitter, on most social platforms and literally engages her audience on those platforms.

She's serious.

Is it possible to rank and bank? Yeah if you are serious. "Only SEO"... No.

Why Google's algorithm would discourage you from starting a business and a brand is beyond me, unless you planned on throwing up 2,000 text-wall of content that no one is ever going to read.

Why would you LET Google discourage you from your dream? How does InfoWars still get traffic when being banned from everywhere? Marketing. SEO has made you marketers lazy.

"Well I can't get #1 in the yellow pages cause someone else has AAAAA Plumbing, should I become a plumber still?" WHAT? Seriously? You never heard of "marketing"?

Fitness, lifting weights, and anything physically active, are all visual mediums. Meaning VIDEOS and image, not wall of text.

Unless you aren't really looking to start a real business or brand, just get the affiliate money at 2%. You know what I think of that.
 
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Thanks @CCarter :smile: Indeed

I am very serious, but yeah had Google Goggles on there.. lol

I have just got home from popping out and randomly did my first face to camera video. First but they all started somewhere eh.

My demographic is completely different but that's something I am happy to work on marketing wise. AS you say, its about a business and marketing and not SEO.

I apologise for the SEO goggle's , not sure why I was in that way of thinking. Cheers for making me snap out of that one

It drives you mad I know from all the times you have hammered it into others, now me :smile:

I totally see what you see on the amount of filming done in gym's, I find it's the ladies filming more than the guys do.

Anyway, Thanks CCarter. Really do appreciate and I am off to edit, upload and optimise the first vid.

Rob
 

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Fitness over 40 is going to be a HUGE niche.

I also agree with @CCarter, in the US market, I wouldn't go near a fitness site without a plan for social media, video etc.

Keep in mind it doesnt have to be "two hot girls squatting in yoga pants", it can be an ordinary 40 something dude talking about home gyms.

I am incidentally in fitness myself, but I am not in the US market, so rules are different here. I still do real product tests and I understand I have to go into video soon. I'm not going to do insta stuff, because the truth about fitness is that it is 80% genetics in how you look. I'm just going to focus on products. Expensive products.
 
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Thanks @bernard

Yeah I am in the UK, 46 and I see so many people even in their 30s who's fitness or even just their diet is not doing them any favours but that's our/their own choices.

Those who do need some motivation, that's where I like to come in. As you can tell targeting the over 40s demo is something I need to think about.

I was looking at expensive products to as you say as if you look at equipment in different forms, they can be people who are about to start their journey so could be a good source of leads.
 

Ryuzaki

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"Only SEO" isn't dumb or dead. Again, every couple of months someone here is like "I just sold my Only SEO site for over 7 figures". If you set out to do an "Only SEO" project and understand that's the parameter and you work within it and exploit that fact, you can print money.

But for something like YMYL niches, it's a death wish, I agree. I don't think Google is going to give a couple Instagram thots a pass for YMYL, but they have a good start. In that vein of argument, it's not just about being a brand but about having degrees and certifications.

But I don't even think that's the case. I think it's largely about links and the sources of those links (trust flow in addition to page rank, like mapping out from trusted seed sites). Google simply doesn't want to get blamed for some idiot reading an idiot snake oil site and hurting themselves or losing their retirement, etc. The simple solution was to crank up the dial on links (which correlates with being a real brand, of course).

Unless you can compete on that level (you can't without 6 figure monthly budgets, etc.), SEO should be done but should be an after thought. Everything you publish on your own site should have SEO in mind, even if it's YMYL. There's still free and hot traffic to be had even if it's much less, and it's one more chance to introduce them to your ecosystem.

The other thing to mention about pure SEO projects is, if you have cash flow it doesn't matter what the vertical is. Just pay someone else to write the crap if you aren't building a personal brand.

If you are building a personal brand, then you should still be doing SEO but there's entire ecosystems out there you can tap into with real deal marketing and not this "hide my face and make money from home" stuff so many people are interested in.

I don't just mean Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, although you certainly should have a presence there. Forums are a huge one. BuSo is an ecosystem that doesn't rely on SEO. There are tons of these out there in various verticals. Everything is like 95% lurkers, 3% sometimes engaging, and 2% contributors. Don't discount any "little" ecosystem if the demographic is what you need and it's hot and engaged.

The real move is to create the ecosystem if you can do it without being a nefarious twat. People check in, but they don't check out. It's what all these Guru people do. They run it like a cult. You find them on Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest... you slowly get excited by their empty motivational speeches and so forth. Then you start to notice that your preferred Guru randomly disses other gurus and tries to tear them down, because god forbid you look elsewhere. They imply it's good to not even talk to your own family (literally a cult tactic). The more separated you get, the more you rely on the guru for your identity (and they derive power and influence, but most importantly they keep their hand in your wallet).

That's not an exaggeration, but there's also the "Guru Lite" people that do it too with less of a negative impact on their followers. They'll often have their private forums, discords, slack groups, facebook groups. You pay for the privilege of getting into a walled garden that seems like Eden from the outside. You come for the info, you stay for the community and popularity contests and all that.

Like I've said elsewhere, you start at the conversion. Create your ecosystem, the products, the subscriptions, whatever. Then you do your best to be everywhere at all times. Once you have marketing assets on all the big channels, all you need to do is figure out who your ideal customer is. You already know the broad demographics like "Over 40, wants to get in better shape and have a better diet, and lives in the UK". Eventually you'll figure out more about them like income levels, etc. At that point, just find out where they are online and siphon them off to your own little universe. Hell, Facebook PPC ads will let you target exactly who you want to a very fine detail and let you find lookalike audiences and all that.

It's not hard. It might be easier than SEO. But people are afraid to do it (or not interested, in which case don't pursue it if it's YMYL and you want to do mainly SEO).

Here's another angle to think about. Say you do create a personal brand. It's all about you, your face, your personality, watching your adventures, etc... Guess what happens when it comes time to liquidate that business for a big paycheck? Have fun selling it at proper multiples, because there's only one you. Have fun getting the same investment you would have gotten, because if you get hit by a car crossing the road, the brand is done to a large degree.

Everything has pro's and con's. The important part is to take inventory of the pro's and con's and then take action. A personal brand can make you millions a year without SEO. SEO can make you millions a year without a personal brand. They both have pro's and con's.

Use ALL of the methods and tools available to you and make some damn money while the getting is good. There's too much splitting of hairs going on and not enough money making.
 

CCarter

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My demographic is completely different but that's something I am happy to work on marketing wise.

You are selling yourself short. There are a ton of users that are over 40, 50, and 60 years old on these platforms.

because the truth about fitness is that it is 80% genetics in how you look.
There is a ton of IG content of deformed hunchbacks, I have usually have to block that stuff. (I'm not saying you are one, but again you guys are selling yourself short, by putting preconceived notions on who's on these platforms.

Edit: "Only SEO" projects are dumb when creating a business or brand.
 

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Adding to what @Ryuzaki is saying, I was watching the Authority Hacker guys talk about sites that got hit with recent updates and they seemed to agree that EAT was really not about any unquantifiable "expert level", but rather mostly links and overall very high on page quality.

Something to consider is that if you're doing EAT, don't necessarily think you need someone with a fancy title, but it has to be really elite content. It has to be so good that there would be no doubt as to someone reading it, that this is expert level.

Which is also about choosing the right angles for your stuff. I see the garage gym stuff being popular as an example. The number one guy I see is not one of the major fitness websites or even major fitness channels, it is just one dude with a kick ass garage gym. He does vidoes too though, but also has a website.

This is his website, ranked number 1 for "garage gym equipment":

garagegymreviews.com/home-gym-essentials

I think this is absolute spot on in terms of how to approach an YMYL niche.

From the first second, you can instantly deduce what this is about. His picture is there, his garage gym is there. This says in no uncertain terms: "This person is real and has a well equipped garage gym".

That site is full of images of garage gyms and equipment. Not stockphoto.

Now, as I said, he does videos, but he also ranks nr. 1 in Google and I think he could have done it without video, but probably not as fast.

I'm looking at that site and thinking that is how I would approach my own site. I don't have the room for a home gym unfortunately.
 

CCarter

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When I read a lot of this stuff I realize you guys have a lot of self-imposed beliefs. And those beliefs are what hold you back. For example fitness, people assume they have to be personal brands. Jeff Cavaliere is doing pretty well with his Athlean-X Brand. He doesn't use his name for his brand. His videos and content are pretty amazing and worth taking a look at @Rob Stone.

On the other side there are hundreds of examples of brands that are personal names that we all know today:

- McDonald's (Every fat-ass knows this name)
- Tiffany's
- Charles Schwab
- JP Morgan
- Papa John's
- Jimmy Johns
- Jared's
- Liz Claiborne
- Ralph Lauren
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Marc Ecko
- Louis Vuitton
- Christian Louboutin (red bottoms)
- Christian Dior
- Martha Stewart
- Atkins
- GaryVee (he's a bit different since he uses his personal brand for leveraging assets, as you should)

A good chunk of those people above died before most of us were born, yet here they are with their personal names as brands that still exist today.

Anyone that says "you can't do this or that" are limited by their own self-imposed beliefs.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because you've never been able to do it doesn't mean it's not possible." - Dan Peña

Now a good example of an online personal brand/personality besides GaryVee is Spencer Haws From NichePursuits.com. I'm not sure what level of guru he is or exactly what he pushes but his name is dropped amongst the known online marketers.

He's been building his brand (and his email list and audience) for very long time. Then he can turn around and leverage that brand to create products like "Link Whisper" which has been recommended on this forum and most recently by @Mr. Media. I had zero clue that it was a Spencer Haws product until I did a bit of digging around cause I thought it would be a cool product to mimic.

Now if Spencer didn't have a personal brand or mailing list he could go to AppSumo and other places, leverage their email list, that funnel's that audience to his product and eventually to his own email list. In fact it would be pretty profitable cause only the people on his Link Whisper list from AppSumo would be people that have no problem pulling out their wallet (I have zero clue if he went on AppSumo or not, I'm just making this shit up).

Now when he launches another product, he's got a nice list of prospects. This is why I keep stressing to build your audience by capturing email lists and contact information. When you have a mailing list and drop a new blog post, instantly 1000s of people in your industry can be made aware of it instead of having to struggle from ground zero with SEO for each post. Things only go viral when you use mailing, social media, video, and other non-SEO methods of generating traffic.

As you can see I seem to know a thing or two about marketing and branding, I've never seen anything go viral from just SEO, not yet. "Absence of evidence", maybe it does happen or will.

I just don't get it though. It's like all you guys just want to do is concentrate on the yellow pages. And I'm saying there is a lot more to marketing than just yellow pages. If you really call yourself an "online marketer" you have to be versatile on a-lot more than SEO. Otherwise just call yourself an SEO and stop pretending.

And I'm not telling you all this to be altruistic. The faster you make more money the faster and more likely you'll buy products or services from me or one of my friends. But if I gotta wait 3-10 years for you to figure out how to make more than $1000 a month... give me a fucking break, I might as well go work at McDonald's for YOU.

And remember there is NOTHING stopping you from going viral and amassing a 100,000 user mailing list in a week except your own self-impose limitation on what is and what is not possible.

Even if you go semi-viral in a small niche with 2,000 people seeing your stuff, and 10%, 200 of them, buy your $77 product, you made $15K. But you can only do these things if you get out of your comfort zone and drop all these self-imposed beliefs of what is or is not possible.

The likelihood you are going hit viral homeruns, even small ones, through just SEO are slim to none, and slim left town. And I'm telling you guys all this WHILE owning an SEO tool. I mean you guys have to wonder...

"I'm teaching you to see instead of merely looking. - Carlos Castaneda