SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is a term that has been around since search engines like Yahoo or Google were born. Not many people know, though, that it’s the driving force behind every business that wants to generate leads from their websites; it has become a complex and highly sought-after subfield of online marketing. Why? Because the top traffic source for websites still is organic search and Google has over 90% of the search engine market share.
Why SEO Matters More Than Ever
In today’s saturated digital world, visibility and discoverability are everything. With millions of websites vying for attention, the difference between being found or lost in the depths of search engine results can hinge on SEO. It’s a make-or-break element for online success. Not to say it’s the only marketing tool, but it’s by far the most important one, according to every trustworthy source you will come upon.
SEO is also multifaceted, more now than ever. It’s no longer just about cramming keywords into your web content and hoping for the best, even though including them and generating keyword-rich content is very important. However, these days, it involves a deeper understanding of search engine algorithms, which are constantly evolving, as well as working on your overall online presence.
Niche businesses must adapt their SEO strategies to align with these changes, especially with the latest advancements like A.I. or machine learning as well as understand the rise of zero-click searches, for example a Zero-clicks Study conducted by Semrush found out that 25% of searches from their study leave SERP (Search Engine Results Page) without clicking a link. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think?
Apparently, this is mostly because of:
- Local SEO: People looking for business listings and information like opening hours or contact information
- Public or celebrity information: To check the date of birth, or a featured snippet about their favourite celebrity
- Currency conversions or calculations: To convert currencies or make calculations
Google is used in a more complex manner these days, as it provides users with a variety of functions, and this will keep on advancing with Artificial Intelligence and Google’s Bard, as well as machine learning, and Google trying to better understand user-intent. They aim to deliver personalized results to every user, so not every user will get served the same content on the identical search query. The pattern analysis in their search history and the way they use language will be more advanced than ever with the rise of highly evolved artificial intelligence.
Especially niche brands and companies can benefit from these advancements because it allows them to utilise a lot of places to put their content in and in front of highly targeted and highly converting users. Special attention should be paid to featured snippets as well which can also serve as a gateway to your website content.
So, how will Search Engine Optimisation for Niche Businesses be done in 2024?
Some things in SEO haven’t changed since the birth of search engines, like creating stellar and original content; however, there are things that have evolved, and if you are a niche brand or a company, you will want to keep your SEO up to date and be on top of the game more than ever.
Niche brands are on the rise, and while in specialised markets, there is less competition, with more people following their passions, doing great SEO is ever more important, as niche has become the new trend to follow.
So let’s revisit some old classics as well as look at changes and new developments in the world of SEO:
This involves optimising individual web pages, like optimising article and page headings so it contains focus keywords, HTML tags (title and meta description that catch attention and brings user clicks), and images that contain alternative text. It’s, the content, that really stands out in On-Page SEO, placing keywords strategically, the interlinking of pages (including KWs in the link text) as well as linking to external sources, optimising page URLs and most of all, writing original and quality content.
All these things improve your SEO that can be done on your page using great copywriting skills. Remember, while SEO, as the name claims, is done for search engines, algorithms like that of Google value content that was written, by people, for people. Nevertheless, knowing what search engines use to rank your pages and applying that knowledge can turn your content into a strategic piece of marketing material.
Keyword Analysis & Optimisation
Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. The single most important aspect of your written content. If you want to write about “How to Sell a Car in 30 days” or “10 Tips on How to Maintain a Positive Mindset”, you should make sure the article is targeted at that theme, and the keywords (KWs) that people are searching for to find that information! This requires keyword research and analysis, understanding the volume of searches for a given theme and KWs, and using this information to target those searches. The better you are at this and go as far as research and targeting long-tail keywords, the more targeted and high-converting the traffic you will receive on your websites. The devil really is in the details here as well as how far and deep you are willing to go. You can use tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, Tools from Semrush or various Chrome plugins that can help you with that. If you have access to Google Ads and run campaigns, you can also use information generated from your paid campaigns.
Content Creation & Optimisation
Content creation is and has always been the king of SEO, first said by Bill Gates in 1996. He described the Internet as the future marketplace for content.
Why is it so important? It’s simply because, without content, there really is nothing to search for, it’s like a book with empty pages. In content creation and optimisation, not much has changed, except that search engines and their way of understanding semantics are highly advanced, and now with A.I., they know exactly what’s going on and what the content means compared to another piece of content.
What does it mean?
That creating truly original content that has a human soul and touch with a creative flair is more important than ever.
And you think that you will outsmart Google with A.I. generated content?
You won’t and neither people, because once people gain a better understanding, they will spot it’s AI generated, so that is to say, don’t lazy and use AI in a smart and genuine way, don’t abuse it to generate a whole article and expect to have a sustainable position in the search engines or gain trustworthiness amongst your target audience.
It reminds me of link farms and exchanges in the footer back in the day of when SEO was about keyword stuffing and link exchanges. If you want to have a sustainable strategy, use software to augment your efforts, not to do the whole work for you. That way you get ahead and keep your efforts bringing you fruits in the long run.
Link Building and Digital PR
Link building and simply building relationships is the second most important aspect of SEO. If we bring it to the physical world, you can be a great person, with a great personality, and have a lot to say, but if nobody validates that, even if you are indeed a great person, and imagine there is a governing body that shows people based on their amazingness, you might not show up, because not enough people have said so. You don’t have many friends nor collaborators that say: this guy or girl is awesome. This is more amplified in high competition areas. You will still get registered as a person in the directory, but will likely be at the bottom of the page, if you don’t get enough of these references pointing to you.
You see how this works?
Applying this to our websites, the more people point to us as the point of reference for knowledge or something of interest, search engines see us as more authoritative than others, and hence rank us higher, bring us more traffic and hence business.
So, now, how is this done? Well, there are various ways, but in all cases, it requires a stellar link building strategy:
- Creating relationships with other influencers (this is also well explained in the free SEO course by HubSpot)
- Establishing partnerships with key people, organisations and companies
- Becoming a point of reference for the industry which usually makes people link to you, because you have something unique to say
- Public relationships, establishing relationships with newspapers, media and other outlets that can spread your unique proposition and what you have to offer to the world
- Getting inventive and contributing to the community with some free product, service or knowledge that they can access
- You may also turn to paid advertising campaigns, which is an option if you have the financial resources to invest
The above mentioned steps should be at the core of your link building strategy and SEO efforts, because the more people know you, and the more authoritative you become, the more organic traffic you will get, it’s a simple formula. You should fall in love with these steps as well as creating good content, as it’s the way to succeed online.
This ensures that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines. These can include things such as:
- Core web vitals
- Page load speed
- Mobile responsiveness
- Indexing and crawl-ability
- Generating an XML sitemap to guide SEs through your pages
- Creating a robots.txt to give instructions to search engines
- Evaluating the code of your website
- Reducing image sizes and adding alt texts
Technical SEO makes sure that your website actually gets found and there is no problem with indexing it. Making sure you optimise each of the aforementioned steps can leads to increased visibility.
Design & UX
The way your website and information is designed plays a crucial rule whenever you actually get the visitors on your pages. While you might rank well, have a lot of links, but your website looks like it was made in 1996, then most people are likely going to leave and you are not going to get your message across. Visual communication and branding is very important in this regard as it helps ease your users into knowing more about you and what you offer. This applies double to niche brands and markets, where you will likely be seen as a specialist in that area and with that, your brand positioning should be on spot.
Also, you might be using some sales or marketing tactics that people have just gotten sick of and are not receptive to them, which could really ruin the user experience of your web presentations. It’s important to find a balance between a great user experience and getting your point across your target customers.
Overall Marketing Strategy & Other Areas
Doing great SEO, making a stellar website and visual design as well as generating enough digital PR and links to your website are the fundamental aspects of generating organic traffic and making sure they interact with your content, however, this should be a part of your grander marketing and business strategy.
To support SEO, you should also be looking into:
- Social media like Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn, maybe even TikTok, Twitter or Pinterest
- Email marketing and building a database of leads
- Paid advertising in the form of PPC ads through e.g. Google Ads or Facebook Ads to complement your SEO efforts
- Physical advertising in case you also have a physical point of sale
While SEO is very important, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, as search engine algorithms change, sometimes quite significantly, so you could lose your positions and organic traffic very quickly, so it’s good to have various sources of leads, in case one goes down. This prepares you for unforeseen circumstances and gives you more control over your business and marketing efforts.
Latest trends and Emerging Technologies to Take in Consideration
Knowing what the latest trends are and being aware of the technologies on the rise will help you be up to date as well as prepared for the future.
Voice Search Optimisation
In the age of WhatsApp audio messages, voice search has been turning into the fastest-growing types of searches. More people are also becoming more interested in hands-free technology. Google is also getting better at recognising voice searches. When you speak to someone and ask them to do something in your natural speaking tone, you use different words and phrases than if you do a traditional typed search. You will use conversational language, and this is what Google is trying to achieve, so it can recognise what you want and serve you the best content possible. The niche market brands should utilise this knowledge and include conversational language phrases in their content.
Tools like Chat GPT does an incredible job at understanding what you mean. If Google can utilise the full power of advanced A.I., then we could be heading into the next era of searching or more like answering and conversing, where you have a conversation with your tool of choice, rather than typing keywords in a box.
If you are interested in knowing more, read a more comprehensive article about how to optimise your content for voice search published by Search Engine Journal.
Video Content Optimisation
Video content has become an extremely popular tool to deliver content, it’s a dominating way of content delivery, so naturally search engines have been giving considerable value to videos in their algorithms. Niche businesses and brands can benefit from this by generating engaging and relevant videos, optimising their titles, creating rich descriptions and transcribing the videos. Note that doing video SEO can help increase visibility not only in search engines but also on platforms like YouTube.
Check out the following article on how to do video SEO.
Using social media is one sure way to bring organic, or more precisely said, referral traffic to your website. Emphermal content is the type that is usually short-lasting such as Insta Stories and such. Using these type of channels can help you bring extra targeted traffic to your website. For example, if you have a new blog post, share it in your stories and attach a link. Like so, you can bring visitors to your blog post.
Ephermal content is loved especially by the Millennial and Gen-Z generation, so it’s important to tap into that potential through social media. Read a more extensive article on how to immerse your brand in the world of emphermal content.
Should You Do It Yourself or Hire an SEO Agency?
Now this is the question you will likely be asking yourself by this point after having you served a crash course in search engine optimisation.
Now, while it’s possible to do SEO yourself, it’s a highly specialised and time-consuming effort, thus it could be beneficial to hire an SEO agency that focuses on niche brands.
An SEO agency already has the knowledge and experience from various industries and projects, from which you will directly benefit. It will be more cost-effective, as the SEO consultants will not need to learn how to do SEO, and will go directly to work. You, on the other hand, will have to learn from scratch and invest a lot of time into understanding the vast field of SEO and in general, online marketing.
If you have a low budget, are just starting out, or have a lot of time, then there are various resources online as well as tools that can help you learn SEO, and you can experiment and see what happens. This can be great if you have the passion for the field and want to learn it and apply it in other projects as well.
However, if you already have a business, and want SEO to elevate your efforts, so you can generate more business from search engines, you might want to hire an expert that can guide you and get you the results that you need. In the end, it’s well worth the investment.