Not all industries inherently have plentiful search volume around their keywords. But that doesn’t mean that niche industries don’t have any organic search opportunities despite limited scope. It’s quite the opposite.

Most brands in niche industries only rank for their branded terms and a few head keywords with incredibly low monthly search volume. What they fail to realize is that their niche keywords are like the smallest doll in a set of nesting dolls. They may be small in MSV but they wrap up as a perfect fit into much higher MSV keywords that reach a larger audience. Here are four steps to take to create an effective content strategy that drives traffic and revenue for a business in a niche industry.

Niche Keyword Research: How to Thoughtfully Expand Your Reach

The small & medium nesting dolls: niche long tail keywords & your head keywords

Step 1: Use your niche keywords to discover the head keywords where your brand could have a voice

When working in a niche industry, it’s often easy to forget that you are, in fact, part of, a niche industry.

Niche industries are often characterized by language that only people familiar with your business and industry will understand. The average person likely does not understand what your business does, how your business does it, and how your business articulates what it does.

So what does that mean for SEO? You need to bridge that gap by targeting head keywords.

Head keywords in SEO (also called short-tail keywords) are words or phrases that serve as the base for other keywords. Head keywords can help your brand expand its reach by capturing a larger audience with a more common term.  

Here’s an example of a transition to a scaled organic strategy in a niche industry:

Let’s say that there’s a company that sells software to segments of the construction engineering industry. Of course, this company ranks high for their branded terms and niche terms like “commercial construction software” (30 MSV). However, for higher volume head keywords like “construction software” (MSV 3,600), the company does not rank.

The SERP for the keyword “construction software” is filled with articles comparing top construction softwares. Therefore, one strategy to target this keyword could be to create a similar blog post about the best types of construction software that can also highlight your company’s product. By creating this kind of content, you achieve greater industry awareness in a way that is still aligned to your personas & core keywords.

Niche Keyword Research: How to Thoughtfully Expand Your Reach

The big nesting doll: your potential audience

Step 2: Understand who’s searching for you and what they need

Who are your customers? Who are your potential customers?

Let’s return to our hypothetical the construction engineering software company. Some of their customers and users of their software include construction site managers, construction engineers, and architects. It is important to think about their responsibilities, which include:

Architects: collaborating with construction site staff, designing safe buildings, and prepare building specifications

Construction Site Managers: supervising construction workers, maintaining quality control procedures, and selecting appropriate construction tools

Construction Engineer: testing elevation levels, inspecting sites, and adhering to federal codes

To make an impact in organic search, it is imperative for the construction engineering software company to understand these customers and their responsibilities. These insights will dictate which keywords you should be targeting to connect with them.

Step 4: Measure your results & iterate

The whole nesting doll family: make sure they fit

Step 3: Map your customer needs to your keyword strategy

Imagine your current and potential customers are googling what your company sells. What keywords are they using to get to your website?

This question is at the crux of keyword strategy. Once you understand what your customers need, you need to change how your talk about yourself target the keywords that your customers are actually searching for.

To find these keywords, map customer needs to your keyword strategy. For example:

ArchitectConstruction Site ManagersConstruction Engineer
ResponsibilityCollaborating with construction staffManaging construction work progressAdhering to federal codes
Long-tail keywordarchitecture and construction management (10 MSV)construction project management software (1,300 msv)construction engineering software (10 msv)
Head keywordConstruction Software (3600 msv)Construction Software (3600 msv)Construction Software (3600 msv)

When you do this mapping, it becomes clear what keywords to target to reach segments of your audience. For example, to target the Architect, the construction engineering software company should use a keyword like, “architecture and construction management” when describing their construction software.

The new copy may be different than how your company has previously described itself, since your company likely uses industry-specific jargon that is unfamiliar to outsiders. But if it feels uncomfortable initially, remember that you’re targeting a greater number of people by making the change.

Niche Keyword Research: How to Thoughtfully Expand Your Reach

An expanding family of nesting dolls: discovering new audiences with SEO data

Step 4: Measure your results & iterate

Measurement is key to any strategy. Not all content strategies are perfect in every way. Some content strategies work and others do not. That’s OK. Just make sure you are able to measure your KPIs. These could be keyword rankings, traffic increases, increases in sales, etc.

With niche industries, it can be particularly important to ensure you can measure your results and set up your tracking for success. Here are a few tracking tips for niche industries:

  • Monitor your Google Search Console for keywords that may be ultra relevant to your customers that you do not already track
  • Begin to look for new head keywords from groups of those untracked keywords
  • Group your keywords according to personas so you can understand where you rank for each customer type
  • Iterate iterate iterate!

The Bottom Line: Own Your Niche but Expand Your Reach

Being in a niche industry typically comes with a highly specialized language that only a few people understand. Yes, this can pose an SEO marketing challenge, but you’re now aware of several steps you can take to meet this challenge. Understand your industry, understand your customers, create a keyword strategy, and measure!

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