How does single-minded persuasion of a niche topic help in the long run? To get the answer let me turn to this interview of Fraser Cain of Universe Today.
Fraser Cain’s website is focused on space and astronomy news, and receives more than 3 million visitors each month. Now, that’s something every blog owner dreams, but alas, very few achieve.
Fraser bares his secrets in the interview, a few of which run contrary to popular belief. Take for example the following nugget:
The problem is that people immediately try to focus on rankings; and that’s where the massive link building campaigns come in. But if you focus only on increasing your overall search traffic, and not battle for any specific keyword, your traffic just grows and grows. Over time, your increasing social network takes over and multiplies the impact of your writing.
This is interesting. Fraser apparently did not focus on specific keywords to target the search traffic, but presumably used a basket of keywords that are close to the search terms actually used by the people.
Does an SEO strategy based on not pursuing what I call the ‘trophy’ keywords help? Well it does, as can be seen in Fraser’s success.
So what gives? What is it that worked for Fraser’s website that otherwise look impossible to achieve?
I feel it emerges loud and clear that no matter how much you are into content curation to help your website, it doesn’t help unless the website has a clear niche to pursue, and pursue it vigorously.
In other words, for any website to be known for what it is, what it stands for, both quality and quantity of contents are important. It is a question of identity of the website which should be unambiguously clear to both the crawlers and the human visitors.
Let us look at some disparate but important factors that can influence your website’s business in terms of content curation.
What Is Your Content Strategy?
There are 2 contrary views on the success of a content-based web business. One school of thought believes that anyone can start a content business even if he has learnt the subject only recently. That means I can start a content website on gardening by simply brushing up my knowledge in 10-15 days even though I never did gardening in my life. All I need is a flow of contents to my website that are about gardening.
The question is how can there be a ‘flow of contents’ if my knowledge is limited to studying the subject for only 10-15 days. And here comes the second school of thought.
According to them, the content business will not succeed unless there is a passion working for it. For, the flow of contents will dry up in the absence of a strong passion willing to go the extra length.
Both are true on their merits, and therefore the right approach has to lie in the middle that satisfies both schools of thought. It is about devising the right content strategy based on 3 important factors.
- 1. Your Domain Knowledge
- 2. Your Customers’ Wants
- 3. Your Ability To Fulfill Those Wants
To take the example of Fraser Cain’s website Universe Today, it is a clear expression of very strong domain knowledge. What is more important is that there is sizable customer wants in the form of people who want to know about the universe, and this is the real clincher if you ask me.
And finally comes the ability of Fraser’s team to fulfil those wants. Look at the frequency of posts which is an average of 3-4 every day. Isn’t it remarkable that the website consistently provides a load of high quality niche contents every single day?
Of the 3 factors (watch the tutorial video) above just take away one and it will be clear that the content business will not succeed.
What Are Your Rules?
Every content writer has his/her own set of doable steps to add value, and own beliefs of what creates compelling web contents. One may not prefer the steps and beliefs, but if they deliver for her needs, who is to complain!
Recently I have made a schedule of writing posts on different topics, and I try to stick to that sequence. It is as below:
SEO > WordPress > Making Video > WordPress > Business Tips > WordPress
Considering that I write on a wide variety of subjects, I find this sequence helpful. It allows me to plan my posts in advance, and that in turn cuts down the gap between 2 posts.
You’ll notice that I write on WordPress every second post, which according to me is understandable since it is the most popular CMS for many web startups. Not surprisingly I have in this website 2 sections for WordPress – for beginners and advanced WordPress tutorials.
Niche, Niche, Everywhere
For all that you do for content curation in your website, at the end of the day all the labor goes waste if it is not clear what your website is about. This may seem a big challenge. But if you pause awhile and think about it deeply, you’ll be able to identify your niche to pursue.
There is no dearth of online business niches. Look around and you’ll notice that online businesses are essentially extensions of their offline counterparts, but more refined and fulfilling in scope. Some of the evergreen businesses online are:
- 1. How to make money
- 2. How to invest money
- 3. How to learn something
- 4. Where to travel and planning
- 5. How to buy/rent house
- 6. How to buy new/used car
- 7. How to find job
- 8. How to get bargains
- 9. How to socialize
- 10. How to entertain
- 11. How to find resources
Surely there are many more. More importantly, each of the above businesses can have a number of niches restricted only by imagination and ability to give shape.
Some years’ back, Google’s Matt Cutts gave a list of niches while saying that there are a lot of them that just take sweat equity. He is a technology person, so his suggestions were more about web technology. But they just go to show the immenseness of possibilities.
Here let me quote a portion of his suggestions:
You could be the SEO that does interviews. Or the SEO that transcribes Matt’s videos. Or the SEO that makes funny lists. Or the SEO company that provides webmaster radio. Or the SEO that makes podcasting easy. Or the SEO that specializes in a certain content management system or shopping cart. Or the SEO company that specializes in Yahoo! stores. Or the SEO that specializes in accessibility. Or the company that mocks Silicon Valley and its companies. Or the SEO that specializes in AdWords API ROI tracking. Or you could be the SEOs that write-up a summary of every panel at every search engine conference. Or the company that does cartoons.
And the list continues…
Future of Content Marketing
Whatever the causes – Panda, Penguin, et al – there is no denying a vigorous campaign underway on the web for content marketing. A study last year (2011) by BlueGlass Interactive has found 60% of B2B marketers would have spent more on content marketing in 2012 (infographic below).
The same picture emerges in the survey by Elance where the second and the third most sought-after hires belong to multimedia professionals (61%) and content writers (38%).
The following infographic gives a vivid picture of the future of content marketing as it continues to unfold. Of special significance is the fact that content marketing has finally broken the glass ceiling and is now viewed as pivotal for achieving the 4 top business goals – brand awareness (69%), customer acquisition (68%), lead generation (67%), and customer retention/loyalty (62%).
Working from home (WfH) during these June, 2020 Covid-19 days, I take a re-look at this article including the infographic above, and realize that a lot of work in the content creation space are still the same as they were when I wrote this post in November, 2012.