Niche Dilution Ills

I was trawling again like I do when I came across a comment on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income site.

It’s amazing how once again the comments have led me to yet another blog post. This is the second I’ve written in two days just from combing some information. It is not even from the main writer which goes to show just how good a community Pat has behind him.

Just to frame the term dilution before I cruise on. It is the weakening of one fluid when mixed with another. Take for example  orange juice concentrate mixed with water. The end solution is a weaker form of the orange juice. The emphasis here is on the weakening, the dispersion of the concentrate forms a weaker solution.

 

Niche Dilution Ills

The Greenovator gets into a key topic that I’m covering today. Whilst this comment is 2 years old in the light of today, it is still valid.

“#Kyle…Worrying about Internet competition is a great way to get an ulcer. Since a significant amount of traffic to most websites has little to do with the SERPs if you are doing your homework. Chaos on the net, varying algorythm changes, geographic searches, total pages, proper seo, and a zillion other things all affect what visitors and types of visitors who “find” or for lack of a better term “stumble upon” your site. With 60% of the world’s population connected to the net, and a significant portion trying to earn a living from online marketing, niche dilution will occur with or without an individual’s effect[.]”

 I think the Greenovator summed it up quite well.

SERPS as you should know is Search Engine Results Page. We look at the first page quite often but on rare occasions we don’t find what we want and dig deeper or none of the articles listed match that keyword exactly.

 

Establishing the Niche

As you are probably aware if you are new to blogging or if you have been blogging some time, you need to fit in a niche. You need to fit in a niche market to drive specific traffic to your site. This group of consumers, who provide your traffic, is your target market.

In the business studies world (one in which I spend hours of study), the way to generate a competitive advantage is through differentiation.

The way to avoid competition is by positioning yourself in a niche that provides to a specific consumer.

JoJoBombardoAlpsPicture

Photo Credit JoJoBombardo

In a real world example say that your topic is winter sports:

Your niche might be extreme snowboarding. You might further differentiate by saying that your niche is extreme snowboarding in the Alps.

Obviously somebody may already cover that niche and be dominant. They may be so dominant that you can’t break in.

You then have to differentiate further and make your niche a sub-niche. This may be a quick decision or happen over time but either way, the segmentation of your core audience has begun.

 

Niche Dilution

Hyper-competition, another one of those evil business studies terms, is a very real threat on the internet for bloggers. Hyper-competition occurs where there are no distinct barriers to entry. Blogging is ultra cheap. You can put out a blog for free on the basic platforms like Blogger, Blogspot and WordPress. Hosting is also relatively cheap so taking the extra step up is child’s play. The only sizable barrier is domain authority and historical competitive advantage (time served).

Creating a blog is easy, maintaining a blog is easy, learning key tips to stick at blogging are easy. People like Pat Flynn, Neil Patel, Tom Ewer, Darren Rowse and Ana Hoffman give these tips away for free every day.

With so many successes the differentiation mentioned above will become diluted by new entrants and substitution. In addition your audience will go where the heat is. Your readers have a defined bargaining power. Your chief supplier, Google, has bargaining power over your content.

A lack of control on new entrants leads to Niche dilution. This is a metaphorical tipping point where you are against so many competitors that your voice becomes increasingly harder to be heard.

It is normally the historical “First In” who should perform best but occasionally a seasoned veteran from another niche can steal a march on traffic with their advanced knowledge of survival. If you are a little guy/gal, you are likely to get crushed by the weight of new entrants.

It is the established oligopoly (a bunch of hardcore site owners) who have around 80% of the traffic for that niche. You will be in the 20% fighting with every man and his dog for the rest.

In trying to expand your readership you will create further sub niches in your articles to gain further market share, ultimately diluting the niche and ensuring total niche saturation.

This is why it is bad to write about subjects such as SEO. Lots of bloggers have “hyper” diluted the term already. So much so that SEO is a common or garden phrase for everyone with a website. I am not trying to dissuade you from trying but be prepared for weak returns if you chase a niche that is saturated!

 

Further complications

Some deep niches don’t generate traffic because there is just not the weight of numbers within the target market to justify making content. In future there might be enough of a movement to justify the niche but you will be trading on minimal returns until that time.

To tarnish that idea, sometimes being the first is crucial. You can gain a historical competitive advantage by covering more ground than everybody else sooner. A lot of the time, sites are rewarded for time served by search results. Not all is in vain. It is just going to be a slow burn to success if the audience isn’t there in number.

 

Advice

I haven’t branched into many niches myself but there are some common sense points that I can think of, and have observed from others, that will be of help to all beginners and intermediate bloggers thinking of exploring their next project:

  • Research before you commit. Apply the “three coats of looking at” technique.
  • Be unique even if you are cutting a similar trench into the Internet mountain.
  • Don’t report on the obvious because the likelihood is that everybody else has already done that before you.
  • Perform an acid test on the search engine for the types of keywords you are going to be using. See how many results Google returns. If the number is in the hundreds of millions then avoid.
  • Think about your audience. Think about how likely your target market will fit into being interested by your niche. What defines and who is your target reader?
  • Think about your Trade-offs. What will you leave out to reach your target market. What will you not do that a competitor already does? Often it’s not about what you leave in but what you leave out.

 

Questions

  • Are you aware of the term hyper competition?
  • Do you think your niche is safe?

 

Two common points raised by new bloggers

I rarely put a post together like this one but in the vein of trying something new and interesting which is a theme for this year I am putting together an article from a patchwork of conversation from Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income website. This article involves two common points raised by new bloggers.

This particular conversation flowed as part of an initial comment from a newly engaged blog owner who was interested to know the best ways about getting buzz to his site. The big issue with blogging in the beginning is the question of how do I generate traffic to my site?

That in itself is a very valid question. Since starting Blog Prefect I know that the best way is through hard graft, making connections via networking and helping others.

I cut some way further into this debate, after the big man (Pat), has made comment.

Allen Underwood begins:

“… I find SEO to be one of the toughest nuts to crack, period. I’m sure it yields great results but it is tiring stuff. Social also kills me – there are so many channels to and to keep up with [;] Facebook [,] Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn.. It seems like the list keeps getting longer!”

 

The SEO debate

 

SEO has been dealt a harsh blow from Google in recent times although the makers of Market Samurai (all the way from Australia) are quick to point out that this was happening 2 years ago. The problem with SEO now is that Google has started encrypting the results. Hiding how well keywords are doing is done to prevent the unnatural, forced posts, swimming to the top. It has also angered a lot of people.

There are two schools of thought to this crackdown:

The first school is that Google are right. By giving that information away freely, people who make profit are bound to go about things the wrong way eventually. The big guns and those who want to be big guns are not below dirty tricks. The supposed Black Hats rule the roost. Eventually if left unchecked Google’s results would return crappy, low value returns with biased agendas towards snake oil rich money traps*. Already, most of the short tail keywords are over saturated, meaning that the marketers have to dig ever deeper into long tail keywords to return lower competition.

*Technically Google perpetuate this to some degree for paid clients of Google. We are forced to see 3 advertised links at page 1 of every search result. This is partly why I turn to DuckDuckGo to return a non-biased search return if I am feeling cheesed off with Google. Google are playing with 5 aces in their hand.

The second school is that without this data the little guys don’t even get a fighting chance to succeed. Those who started earlier have already benefitted from an unfair historical competitive advantage not provided to those who come later. A lack of keyword information penalises those who start later in the game. It doesn’t present any notion of fairness. Those already established can preserve what’s left of their data, those who come beyond start off with a significant barrier to entry.

I started Blog Prefect in June of 2013, since that time the percentage of unknown search terms has increased substantially. Eventually all search terms will be unknown. All encrypted. We will be back to a proverbial stone age.

A third alternative view on this is that Google have been profiling keywords for years with their “free” analytics tool. They’ve been reaping the benefits of free info for their paid clients with “gay abandon” (that is to say the old school meaning). Google are now closing the loop. They can do this because they offered their service for free. They only want those big paying cheeses to profit. They don’t want a sniff of you little guys but they do want your keyword data, thank you very much.

 

The Social Media debate

I agree with an observation of an ever-expanding list of channels. It seems that the amount of social channels has expanded to a ridiculous level. Yet each one is unique in its own way and sports its own unique group of interested parties.

This is just a small list of the much bigger list of channels. I’ve partitioned them into categories where they fair particularly well.

Image driven

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • StumbleUpon
  • Pinterest
  • Flicker
  • Tumblr

Text driven

  • Twitter
  • Reddit

Video friendly

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr

Emeroy follows up on the same vein:

“Definitely Allen! I was on the same boat in trying to keep up with all the social media platforms but I just found myself more exhausted than anything.

I’ve decided to adopt the idea of “Being Everywhere” to being everywhere I’m happy, so I decided to stop certain social media platforms and am focusing [on] the ones I actually enjoy using.”

That’s kind of a nice saying right there:

“Being everywhere I’m happy”

We can learn something from that. Currently I am over extended on social media platforms not working for me. Twitter is not driving any value for me. LinkedIn is a non-starter. I don’t produce enough value images to be worthy of Pinterest, Instagram or Flickr.

Sweet Jars AnalogyIt’s a bit like a kid at the candy store. There are all those jars of candy to choose from so the kid has a mixed bag of everything. The problem starts when the kid gets home because he/she realises that all of the sweets have melted into a sticky mass. Some of the sweets still taste okay but the others are just a runny mess. The next time the kid goes to the store they buy just a few of their favourite candies and the result is far better.

 

Don’t place all your eggs in one basket

 

It is wise not placing all your eggs in one basket. You will miss out on side traffic outside of Facebook, for example, the same is true for Google+ and Twitter. There is nothing wrong with dedicating yourself entirely to one platform but you could miss out on the potential of alternative and differentiated streams of traffic. You might get totally different viewers engaging with your articles from Pinterest or Instagram to those coming from Facebook or Google+. Therefore just picking a few complimentary feeders is better and making your best efforts to service them will provide the best coverage.

 

Questions to you, the reader:

  • What do you make of Allen Underwood and Emeroy’s conversation?
  • What are your views on startup strategy?
  • How do you view Google’s encryption of keyword results to unknown keywords?
  • Do you wade neck-deep in social media channels or cling to the special few?

 

Image Credit

Sweet Jars – The oldest Sweet Shop in England http://www.oldestsweetshop.co.uk/