Why Becoming an Expert in Your Niche is So Important

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This is a Guest Post by Dee Barizo, a loyal SEJ reader who sent this in and is very relevant to something I preach in terms of influence and linking, becoming an expert in your field. Enjoy.

I think one of the most untapped areas in SEO is developing expertise in your niche. Search specialists know a lot of link building and keyword research but how many of them are experts in the industries where they work?

Search marketers who do not have expert knowledge in their niche are leaving a lot of money and traffic on the table. I made this realization after reading Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated. He argues that niche expertise is essential to become a top performer and reach your highest potential.

He cites research showing that the best performers have a deep knowledge base to draw from. They are able to leverage it to outdo their peers. For example, the top doctors can interpret an X-ray reading much more accurately than new residents. Using their knowledge and experience, they see the subtle but important cues that the new residents miss. Also, the top pilots are much better at navigating through the chaos of air traffic control than the new pilots.

You can see this phenomenon in SEO. An experienced search marketer can look at keyword logs and stats and quickly see opportunities for traffic growth. On the other hand, a newbie will totally miss them.

Search Marketers and Niche Expertise

All of this emphasis on knowledge and expertise may seem elementary and obvious, but I see many competent search marketers entering niches without much knowledge of those niches. Because of their lack of knowledge, the content they produce is pretty boring and reads just like most of the other commercial content on the web.

Many of them still do well because their SEO skill compensates for their lack of niche expertise. But this strategy is not a good one for the long term.

See right now, you don’t really need niche expertise to compete. Most companies are clueless about SEO. You can easily outrank them even though your content is average. However, as more webmasters learn SEO and the search space gets more saturated with new marketers, it will become more difficult to rank. You will need expert knowledge to keep and grow your market share.

Now you might be thinking, as you work in a niche, you will learn more about it. That is true but your competitors are experiencing the same thing. Plus, after you learn the basics of an industry, it’s tempting to just rely on that knowledge instead of acquiring more information.

What Geoff Colvin advises is being intentional with the learning process. Niche expertise should not only be a by-product of your work but a major goal.

He writes on page 121 of his book:

Imagine the difference if you made domain knowledge a direct objective rather than a byproduct of work. If you set a goal of becoming an expert on your business, you would immediately start doing all kinds of things you don’t do now. You would study the history of the business, identify today’s leading experts, read everything you could find, interview people inside your organization and outside it who could provide new perspectives, track key statistics and trends. The exact steps would vary depending on your business, but it’s quickly apparent that you could make yourself impressively more knowledgeable about your business than you are today, and probably do so in short order. With time, your knowledge advantage over others would become large.

I think Sugarrae is a great example of search marketer who understands this concept. Here’s what she said in an interview last year on SEO Book regarding the telecom industry where she made her mark as a successful affiliate marketer:

I knew crap about telecom when I started – I learned, learned, learned the field.

Also, she gave this advice:

I always say you don’t need to love the topic, you need to learn TO love the topic. To make the best site, you have to be willing to either immerse yourself or pay to immerse someone ELSE in a topic.

The Benefits of Niche Expertise

Niche expertise is the gateway to many benefits. I’ll highlight a couple of them and how they relate to SEO.


Imagine if you could predict the next major trends in your industry. Wouldn’t that be helpful and give you a big competitive advantage?

The top experts have robust mental frameworks that allow them to see the future before it happens.

With expert knowledge, you can create content about the upcoming trends. As you predictions come true, you will attract links and gain authority and trust.


Geoff demonstrates that the innovative leaders from many different fields all had vast amounts of knowledge about their respective industries before they came up with their creative breakthroughs. There was always a long preparation period of learning before any major innovation.

Innovation has always been a great way to build links. Whoever comes up with something new that adds value gets rewarded with traffic and citations.

Unique Content

Search marketers have always talked about unique content as a fundamental strategy. If you want to have truly unique content, not just reworded wikipedia style content, you need to go deeper in your niche.

An expert by definition knows many things that the average person doesn’t know. Creating content based on your expertise helps you stand out from the crowd and builds your reputation.


Time is money. With a wealth of knowledge at your disposal, you can create content more efficiently and improve your site faster.


Experts can discern quality from mediocrity.

You can leverage this discernment in various ways. For example, you can hire other top performers and avoid mediocre ones. You can point your readers to the best information and warn them of misleading content. When seeking advice from others, you can distinguish good ideas from bad ones.

Action Plan

Once you have a solid grasp of the SEO fundamentals, start developing knowledge about your niche. Read books. Watch videos. Add the top blogs to your RSS reader. Have that same zeal for acquiring knowledge in your niche as you had with learning SEO.

You’ll get a much higher ROI if you combine SEO knowledge with niche expertise. SEO prowess + expertise in the niche = an unbeatable combination.

The industry knowledge you learn is an investment that will pay off in the long term. But even in the short term, you will receive benefits like new content ideas.

The process may seem like niche research. But unlike the common advice of doing the research once in the beginning, you will be learning on a regular basis to become an expert. Plus, industries don’t stay stagnant. They change with the times. With a regular learning schedule, you will be up to date with the latest changes and new issues that come up.

Over to You

How well do you know your niche?

What methods would you recommend for learning more about a niche?

Dee Barizo is an affiliate marketer and search specialist. His latest project is an online degree site called The Best Degrees. He is developing expertise in the online education industry by browsing forums and blogs, reading books and scholastic journals, watching videos, and connecting with students and college faculty and staff. Also, he plans on taking an online course soon.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • I think this is a very welcome post.

    I agree that too many affiliate marketers and SEOs think they can get by with second rate content, even spun content, and backlink the hell out of it and success will be theirs.

    I feel a rant coming on so I'll just say “Thanks” and “All The Best”


  • Absolutely true. Basic SEO principles can be learnt in relatively short time, but industry-specific knowledge is a long distance run.

    • That's been my experience. After spending most of my time learning SEO, now I spend most of my time learning more about the niches I work in. I still keep up with SEO developments since it's a fast changing field. But once you've gotten the SEO basics down, the best ROI seems to come from increase your niche knowledge.

  • websearchworkshop

    I agree that it's very important to become an expert in a niche of SEO. As the industry becomes more competitive this will become increasingly vital.

  • Interesting information. I am new to marketing period, and just learned about SEO a couple weeks ago. I am on my way to learning as much as I can in my free time to grow my home based business.

  • I think knowing your niche, and serving multiple clients within that niche benefits your efficiency, and the clients' return on investment.

    Picture this – I work solely in the travel industry, with 99% of my clients in the lodging niche. When I start a seo campaign, link acquisition campaign or something as basic and vital as keyword research, I've done it for hundreds of other clients, and I KNOW the steps to take to achieve great results.

    Not only have I saved the client money by not wasting their time, I've got a huge stable of link resources researched SPECIFICALLY for travel clients. They benefit from my knowledge, without me having to “reinvent the wheel” for a new client in a new industry/niche.

    I'm not an affiliate marketer, but I imagine the same is true. If I can make money with my affiliate website without having to learn a new industry every time I register a domain, the return on my time investment is going to increase with every thing i learn and apply across multiple sites.

    Great piece, Ann – thanks for sharing.

    • Carrie, great examples and concepts. Thanks for sharing.

  • Overall, i agree on the learning thing, but basically a niche marketer always outsource, so the actual content will be, in most cases outsourced by experts. Though, if the owner of the niche business do not have any knowledge then the quality of the content and research will be shallow with results like thin content and re-wording wiki articles as mentioned by you.

    Good to read articles like this which does not talks about promoting your low quality content and push them on top of the serps like what most people do, rather learning and adding value to the internet which is always welcome.

  • An interesting post – the “jack of all trades” will soon become an ol' folks tale. In this new world, specialists, consultants, niche marketers, and experts will be the one's taking home the money.

  • Thank you for such a useful article. The information presented will help everyone that reads it. Please continue to elaborate on this subject as I’m sure there will be more need for information on this in the future.

  • Excellent article Dee! Too many people focus on the belief that you have to wear all the hats in our business, or you can be successful just doing what everyone else does. your point about this being true only for the time being is spot on.

    Personally I have tested different niches over the years and every couple years have ended up shifting the niche. What it's led me to focus on happens to be high end SEO audits – this is probably 90% of my work these days, and I love it!

    One additional benefit of becoming an expert in a niche – you can command higher fees for your work because it's truly superior. 🙂

    • Great point, Alan. With many people not specializing, it's easy to stand out from crowd and command higher fees if you become an expert in a niche.

  • Interesting site u have here a lot of useful information! I am eager to learn more about internet , search engines , seo …. i know it is hard to succeed in any field area but i am willing to try hard! thanks for the information u provide!

  • Very nice post and informative. Many bloggers today choose the make money online niche and think it's funny because most of them can't really make a decent income.

  • Great article – and so true. Becoming the expert in your niche will really maximize your profits. Read everything you can on the topic, visit other's sites and see how it's done, and then put your own spin on it. You'll soon be the expert.

  • Great article – and so true. Becoming the expert in your niche will really maximize your profits. Read everything you can on the topic, visit other's sites and see how it's done, and then put your own spin on it. You'll soon be the expert.