Search Marketing

Identify Your Search Marketing Niche

The realm of search marketing has grown by leaps and bounds in the past several years. Along with it, search marketers have relied on blogs, conferences and social media to stay on top of this ever-changing-without-warning industry.

The web has evolved and so has the role of the web marketer.  Only a few years ago, a web marketer could say their niche was “search marketing”, which itself was a misleading term as industry players argued over what search marketing really meant. Today, I think we’ve settled as defining “search marketing” as encompassing both paid and organic search as opposed to one or the other.

This brings me to the essence of what I’m talking about – how the role of the search marketer is broken down as the industry grows.

The simplest breakdown is between paid and organic.  But it doesn’t stop there!

Paid Search Niches

  • Landing Pages:

No pay-per-click campaign can be successful without appropriate landing pages with the intention of visitor conversion and ROI.  Landing pages are in fact so important that they break down even further:

    • Content creation

The copy that you write will make or break the visitor going further or causing them to bail immediately. If this is your niche, you should be a very good copywriter.

    • User interface

Another imperative aspect of your landing page is the design of the user interface.  Design skills are important here and you need to know where the visitor is looking and clicking. Consider heat map tracking and multivariate testing to optimize the user interface of the landing page. More on that later.

  • Campaign Optimization

If words like “AdGroups” and “campaign groups” are in your vocabulary’s Top 10, this is probably the niche for you.  Proper organization of your search engine marketing campaign allows you to minimize your CPC and maximize your ROI.  Don’t know what those terms mean?  You should probably look at hiring a PPC expert who specializes in campaign optimization.

  • Keyword Research

This goes along quite well with campaign optimization, since campaigns and AdGroups don’t function without keywords.  Did you do your keyword research and come up with 10-20 keywords?  Better look into a keyword research specialist, who will come up with anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 keywords depending on the topic.

By the way – in case you peaked further down the list – I know I repeat Keyword Research. Stay tuned.

  • Ad creation

How many parts to a paid search ad are there?  Did you say three?  Go find a PPC expert with experience in ad creation, because there are four.  Those who fall under this niche pay special attention to the terms and conditions of paid search programs, making sure that the ads are following the rules.  For example, did you know that Google now insists that your display URL and destination URL must be from the same root domain?  An ad creation specialist would know about this.

  • Bid management

Setting up your campaign and pouring money into it is a good start. However, if you’ve misplaced your bids and your clickthrough rates have fallen lower than the average conference attendee after four days in Las Vegas, you will definitely need to do some work in the bid management department.  Tweaking your bids is a delicate process and must be done with caution.

  • Testing (AB and multivariate)

While some poor misinformed lad or lass may insist that this is an add-on or optional aspect for a paid search campaign, well, that’s just wrong.  Testing your ads and your landing pages not only helps you to understand the most successful aspects of your campaign but also gives you valuable data about your visitor that you can implement into other areas of your site.  Then test that too!  Someone who knows about testing will tell you that until your conversion rate is 100%, you’re never done testing. As my good friend @scottpolk says, “If you ever stop testing then you are already losing.”

  • Analytics

This is a personal favorite as I consider it a niche of mine. Analytics should be the beginning, middle and end of every single campaign. Assuming that your web site has been live for at least a week – heck, even a few days – and that you implemented some sort of web analytics when it launched, you will have great resources to help you get started with your paid search campaign.  This includes top keywords, popular areas of your site, geolocation of your visitors and more.  Anyone who falls into this niche will know how to use this information to enhance your paid search campaign and monitor the stats throughout the campaign as well.

Organic Search Niches

  • Link building

One way I like to definite the World Wide Web (in a very general sense) is to call it “a bunch of links”. In reality, that’s how you maneuver from page to page or site to site.  Links, both internal linking and inbound links, are how people get to and navigate your site.  Link building has been a constant in organic search ranking since algorithms were introduced, though the weight given to links has changed.  How much has it changed?  Someone in this niche will know.

  • Keyword research

Aha!  Here’s keyword research again. Why am I including it again?  Because keyword research for organic search differs from keyword research for paid search.  In paid search, you can bid for whatever keywords you want, regardless of if they appear on the landing page (though I’m sure PPC experts will tell me it does factor into the Quality Score).  However, keyword research and implementation of those keywords requires that the keywords don’t just appear on the target page, but also in anchor text pointing to that page.  Research words that are not relevant will not result in any success, since you can’t bid on organic keywords.

  • Social Media

Yeah, social media should probably be its own category but I feel like it’s still in that stage between being crowded under the search engine optimization umbrella and coming full out into its own.  I identify experts in this niche by not only their knowledge of social media but more importantly, how they are using it to promote their own brand. If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk!

  • Content Generation

One of the most popular methods, “blogging”, and there are lots of people in this industry who are very well known for their blogging skills.  This is a very specific niche that is essential to all aspects of the web, but especially organic search.  (I’d give you the “content is king” line, but to be honest, I hate it and really should come up with a new cliché.)  Content is endless – reviews, documents, company information, anything you can think of. User generated content is just as important, and can be done easily by posting and commenting on blogs and forums, participating in discussions in web groups, etc. The golden rule for content is to write for the user with the search engine as a secondary audience.

  • Domains

Most people know that having keywords in your domain is important to ranking for said keywords.  What about subdomains?  Folders and directories?  File names? What kind of top level domain (TLD) should you have and how does it impact international search?  Find an SEO expert who knows a thing or two about the domain niche.

  • Server-side

I feel that in the past, the back-end issues of search engine optimization have been left behind.  But thanks to people like David Harry and Vanessa Fox, finally we see server-side issues as a required niche for search engine optimization. What’s involved in this?  301 redirects. .htaccess files. Default file names. Session and tracking IDs. I’m sure you’ve heard of those, and it’s Server Side Super Search Heroes that come to the rescue when solving those types or urgent issues.

  • Analytics

What? Analytics again?  You bet.  Paid search platforms all come with some sort of reporting (though some are certainly better than others).  With organic, it’s up to you to make sure that some sort of web analytics is installed.  While most people settle with a JavaScript solution like Google Analytics, they’re missing something big.  What is it?  You don’t know?  Okay, twist my rubber arm I’ll tell you.  An analytics specialist will remind you of the importance of your server logs.  There is tons of information available there you can’t get with your JavaScript stats, such as spider usage of your site, people hotlinking your images, stealing your bandwidth and more.

Other Search Niches

There are lots of other niches in search that can’t be broken down by paid or organic, such as in-house search marketers and affiliate marketing. Experts in these areas will tell you that these can be broken down into niches too.

Did you see a lot of yourself in some of these descriptions?  As a search marketer, what niches do you feel you best belong in? Do you think it’s possible for a search marketer to be an expert in ALL these areas?

“Self-awareness is the greatest of all virtues.” Someone very close to me would say this to me often and he was a great inspiration to me.  I think there’s a lot of value in this statement.  Know what you’re best at, where your strengths lay.  Then you can focus on growing into other niches or building relationships necessary to complete the search marketing package.

Lyndsay Blahut is the Director of Online Marketing at Canada’s Web Shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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9 thoughts on “Identify Your Search Marketing Niche

  1. Search marketing has certainly grown over the years. Although this is a rather comprehensive list, there are probably other niches out there yet to be discovered or which will crop up as things continue to evolve. There are a lot of opportunities out there to really shine in whichever area(s) you fit best.

  2. Lyndsay, this is one of the best overall search engine niche posts I’ve read in a while.

    I think I’m doing pretty well on most everything in the Organic Search Niche section. However, aside from Keyword Research – the whole Paid Search Niche section continues confound me a bit.

    I think I’m just impatient – and for some reason feel that the process of setting up some of the paid niche stuff just takes too much time.

    That said, I’m guessing that if I actually did implement some of those techniques, my impatience may be rewarded with actionable info resulting in a little bit higher success rates re: My SEO efforts.

    What are your thoughts regarding how one might best formulate a balanced attack using techniques from both camps?

  3. Lyndsay, I loved your post. Very good information. One thing I would like to suggest for your readers is to focus on sites that Google and the Search Engines really like.. for example, WordPress blogs, Squidoo lens, YouTube videos. Etc. There are so many ways to get the biggest bang for your buck when you focus your link “power” on those sites that are crawled by the SEs and which already have links built into them. Hope that added some value. Thanks again for the amazing blog post!

    I found you on Alltop by the way.. You go girl!

  4. I love that you made a point of encouraging people to find their niche within the search marketing industry. There are simply so many aspects of search marketing that finding someone with sufficient expertise in all areas of paid search and organic search is extremely challenging – if not impossible.

    Some in the search marketing world specialize in organic on-site SEO, while others specialize in paid search and still others in Social Media Marketing, and so on. The key for business owners is to marry their search marketing strategies with someone whose expertise matches the requirements of each of strategy.

    I’d also point out that these niches extend not only to specific areas of search marketing, but to industry, target market (local vs. nationwide and/or global) and business level (small business vs. big business) niches, as well. The strategies and levels of expertise in each area of search marketing vary widely based on those factors. What works for a small, local business isn’t going to work for a large, global company…

  5. This is a wonderful post that touches upon many useful topics covering SEO, PPC, and Social Media Optimization (SMO). They really whet the appetite (cliches for all!) for neophytes and offering plenty to chew on for industry practitioners due to the rapid changes that take place on an ongoing basis.

    I feel that SMO is coming into it’s own, but also being defined and redefined each and every day due to it’s all encompassing nature. It is playing a larger and larger role and should be on everyones radar.

  6. Great list but I also suggest some mobile related analysis. People is increasing searches using their mobiles…so this is getting an new niche to think about.

    Congratulations for the synthesis of the list.

  7. I loved the emphasis on keywords selection as it is the key to success for both the organic and paid searches. Thanks for the informative content!