For link building purposes, some clients are just more desirable than others. There are some sites that are exciting, because the minute you land on the homepage you can immediately think of 100 angles to attack from. The content ideas start gushing like a loose fire hose; resource lists, articles, widgets, games, quizzes, contests, you’re soaked with ‘em.
Then there are the others. The kinds of sites that account managers play hot potato with because no one wants to condemn their team to chasing down links in what seems like a dead end niche.
Sooner or later though, you’re going to deal with a client whose site makes you wish you’d gotten a degree in advanced chemical engineering, just so you’d have a clue what their products do. That’s what happened to me not too long ago. While we were discussing his online audience he said he felt like it was extremely limited in scope. Directly, he was right, indirectly however… I saw potential.
Whether you’re looking at a client’s site or dealing with your own site’s bland subject matter niche sites have some obstacles to overcome. You may be facing a minimal following, complicated concepts, advanced technology, industrial hardware, jargon, and sometimes just plain boring or disgusting subject matter. When you’re in that situation, you’re up against a wall from the beginning. For starters, there’s a finite selection of people on the web even talking about topics that are directly relevant to you. Then once you eliminate competitors, big business, porn and web garbage from that group, your link building pickings are looking pretty slim.
So what are a niche site’s options? Give it up? Accept a fate in search obscurity? Never.
I say the ways for a niche site to appeal to a larger audience are really only as limited as your ability to think outside the box. Oh no, I didn’t just say that did I? Yup, I did. While I totally hate that over-used cliché, I am actually going to talk about the box. Literally. Here is one of my favorite content brain storming techniques for finding new ways of connecting difficult niche sites to subjects with a broader demographic.
4 Degrees of Separation.
Your website is not Kevin Bacon. You don’t get 6 degrees, you only get 4. But most of the time that’s all you’re going to need. I believe that any subject which can be associated with your product or service within four logical connections is fair game for content creation, and from there, opportunities to get links.
So, now we get to the literal box. Suppose I sell card board boxes. I’ve written all of the articles I can think of about what my boxes are made of, the sizes and styles of boxes. But for some reason my article on “corrugated card board” isn’t bringing in the links the way I’d hoped. Well maybe it’s time to play 4 degrees of separation. Ready?
The First Degree:
Start with your product or service. What is it? What is it used for? What does it do?
The Second Degree:
Where, how, when, or why is your product used? Who uses it?
The Third Degree:
For once, the 3rd degree is the fun part. This is the part I call “Free Association”. Some improv games use this, psychiatrists use this and content teams and link builders can use it too. Take whatever answers you came up with in the 2nd degree, isolate one of them and begin to free associate from that idea, what words and concepts come to mind? What you come up with here will lead to…
The Fourth Degree:
This is where you wind up with a tangential concept, a broader subject that you have arrived at through logical connections from your starting point. Select one of your free associations that you feel has promise and explore the content possibilities surrounding it.
Let me demonstrate with The Box.
Degree #1 – My product is a card board box. It’s used for putting stuff in.
Degree #2 –Stuff gets put in boxes for moving, organizing, cleaning, packaging, storing and shipping. Everyone uses boxes, from individuals to big companies.