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When Being the Number 1 Blog in Your Niche is Not Enough

“I’m the number 1 blog in my niche but I’m not getting much traffic – do you have any words of advice?”

This question hit my inbox earlier today and I thought I’d repost part of my reply here as I think it could be relevant to more than the blogger concerned. Here’s most of my response (I’ve removed reference to the blog concerned as I don’t have permission from the blogger to identify it):

Congratulations on the success you’ve had with your blog. It is great that you’ve hung in there for two years now with the blog and grown it as much as you have. It sounds like you’ve worked hard to find your voice, build a core community and establish some profile and credibility in your niche.

One thought that came to mind regarding your question was that perhaps you need to widen your sites a little. While it does seem that you’re the number 1 blog in your niche (I can’t find any on your topic on Technorati with a ranking as high as yours) you are certainly not the number 1 site on the internet on your topic.

Many bloggers only see their competition as other blogs on their topic and in doing so ignore other types of websites in their niche. For example when I search on Google for your topic I find 3 forums, one social media site and a couple of other static/informational websites that not only rank higher in Google for your keywords but which seem to do significantly more traffic than your blog (according to Alexa and Compete’s stats).

I don’t say this to discourage you but in the hope that in widening your sites about your ‘competition’ that you’ll be driven on to think bigger and improve your blog.

Some practical words of advice for you are to see what opportunities there are to interact in these other websites in your niche. I know you are active in commenting on and networking with other blogs in your niche but what about getting involved in the forums, contacting the other website owners and getting active in the social networking site?

You’ve grown your blog to the point you have partly by the networking and promotion you’ve done within the blogging community – but think broader and you might just find yourself not only being the number 1 blog on your topic but being the number 1 website of all types.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. LisaNewton says:

    I’m just beginning with my blog, so hitting #1 in my niche would be great. Your suggestions are great even if you haven’t hit #1.

  2. wiswa says:

    i think blogger must concern about their originality content afterall..

  3. Nice Tips Mr. Darren.

    But I would Really Like to know what’s ” Being No.1 ” means ?
    What I mean is,

    * Is that person’s Blog No.1 in Search Results for a set of keywords
    * Is the Blog ‘the most visited blog in his niche’ ?
    * Is the Blog most loved among other Bloggers of the same niche (just like problogger) ?
    * Or does the blog earn maximum revenue in its Niche ?

    So, I would love to know What does ” Being No:1 ” means ?

    Regards,
    Debajyoti Das
    Realtrix

  4. I agree it’s time to expand. I don’t what the niche is, obviously, but if you’re not getting traffic, then few people are interested in the topic. After 2 years, it should not be difficult to target a wider audience.

  5. Very true. Sometimes, people tend to focus too much on their niche trying their best to be as much as a laser as they can be. The problem however is that if focus is too tight, traffic goes down. I think the best would be to be as laser targetted as you can be but at the same time also have enough variety to make “other” people come.

    Mike

  6. Excellent article Darren! Its really strange how comes someone first in a specific niche is asking another top niche blogger :-)

    Good Luck

    Olgi Zenullari

  7. Fantastic advice!!!

    It is easy to get sucked in and forget there is a whole wide world on the web outside of Blogs.

    Aim for number 1 on the Web not just in the blogosphere!

  8. Derek says:

    To the mystery blog and blogger:

    Just because you make 7″ screws doesn’t mean you should compete in the 7″ screw market. You should compete in the “we hang things on the wall market.”

    Or, for a more specific example. How about what Jack Welch did in General Electric.

    Instead of classifying GE’s businesses as number one, he looked for ways to classify all of GE’s businesses as the underdog. Then, he looked at the his competitors who were ahead of him and found growth opportunities.

    Hope this helps.

  9. GBGames says:

    I am not sure what you mean by “widening your sites about your competition”. Do you mean that the blogger should widen the scope of his niche blog? It is possible that his niche is just too focused. Being #1 on a topic no one cares about would explain the lack of traffic.

    Or did you mean “sights”, as in widening his field of view to keep other competition in mind?

  10. Tumblemoose says:

    Hmm. Sage advice, I think. It’s really easy to get focused and wound up in our own world, but the internet is a pretty big space.

    Quote from the movie, Contact: “Are we alone? It would an awful waste of space” or something to that effect.

    Expand your circles and you’ll be surprised what you’ll find.

    Cheers

    George

  11. I also think you need to check out how much audiences you have in your niche.

    Recently I came across a blog on “Haunted Lighthouses” .Now, I don’t think there will be many people searching for haunted light houses.

    So ,apart from broadening your niche ,my word of advice would be to also check the no. of audience the chosen niche have.

  12. Gem says:

    Definitely agree at all points. I had experienced this myself – so I learned not only to visit other blogs but I had learned how to use social networking to my advantage. I may not manage all of them, but I try to find out which one really works for me.

    Also, one of my blogs is a better fit for forums than all my other blogs, so I also find that effective to promote my own stuff too.

  13. Wesley says:

    How exactly do you know you’re the “nr 1″ blog? By being the first for a specific keyphrase? Unless that keyphrase is really general, that doesn’t say much.

    Word of mouth and other sources of traffic can be more important than google. (in some cases)

  14. Jeremy says:

    Isn’t it also an idea to make the proverbial 7″ screws more desirable, or at least seem more important?

  15. Derek says:

    @Jeremy You can only make the proverbial 7″ screws as desirable as they can be. You can’t sell them as an entertainment item, you can’t sell them as a necessity. You need to sell them as intended.

    Another great analogy that I learned… I think from Seth Godin, is: When you buy grass seed, you aren’t buying grass seed. You’re buying a greener lawn.

    So, to whoever this blogger is… just because he’s the number one blog in the screw market, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have growth opportunity. He can compete in the hardware market.

  16. TechMata says:

    Good for the Mystery Blogger he become number 1! ^_^

    What is it not enough? Earnings?

  17. V1dz says:

    How can this happen? I mean the number blog on a particular niche isn’t getting the expected amount of traffic??

    Nice advice there, so this means once I become the top notch Blog in my particular niche I would have to expertise in my Mother Niche too. Hmm.. Sounds like Human Greed won’t stop.

    Great Article. Thanks.

  18. That’s what I call “BbloggerBoldness” and I like it. Still working on the niche. Nice post {Fist Bump] to ya’

  19. Brian says:

    I was the #1 blog in my niche once and it drove me to kill my old blog and start a new one. Long story!

  20. Great insight Darren!

    I’m glad you posted this. It’s good motivation. :)

  21. Jamie Harrop says:

    Interesting advice, Darren.

    I have to admit, it’s not often I consider my competitors to be anything other than blogs, but it makes perfect sense to broaden your horizons and look beyond interactive Web sites.

    Jamie

  22. Great advice!!
    After being the no1 on you niche, think broader!

  23. Hi Darren,

    This is a very useful article. I started a blog about netbooks and netbook customization around three months ago.

    Having done some research, it seems as though I’m the only blog of my type, yet after some intial traffic things have tailed off.

    With netbooks being all the rage at the moment, the tips in this article will hopefully help me to build traffic over the next few months!

  24. Derek says:

    @Admin Istrator You might be focusing on too narrow of a niche. However, if you become the best in that niche, you may want to expand your niche into “portable net devices.”

    Netbooks is a great topic, but “portable internet devices” is much larger. Or, you can broaden your topic a little bit more and focus on “portable information devices.”

    What do you think?

  25. DB Ferguson says:

    This is a very interesting post, and deals with a question I’ve been asking myself lately. Being a fan site (for Stephen Colbert and “The Colbert Report”), my niche is my celebrity. To answer a previous commenter’s question, being #1 in my niche means being the #1 (and only) listed fan blog on the official site of my celebrity (http://community.colbertnation.com/).

    But … my stats have petered out. My RSS feed growth is glacial in speed, and other than certain stories and being linked on the official show page for my celebrity, the growth to my site’s views has also been quite slow. I’ve had 4-5 spurts of major growth, and the staff and I continue to produce quality content.

    But as far as taking it to the next level, audience-wise, I’m not sure how to grow any more than I already have. And I’ve been doing the site for over 2 1/2 years and over 4000 posts. As far as expanding the content subject, it’s something I’ve considered. But we’re already posting 5-10 times a day, and I fear that growing the content to include, for example, “The Daily Show”, would grow the content to the point where the excess content would be a detriment rather than a strength. I think we already push the level of content that our readers can comfortably keep up with.

    I think I’d rather expand regular features and try to strengthen the community rather than feature a new subset of content. But even that could be taxing to my current staff. I’m in the process of building a Special Forces staff to take care of certain ongoing site features, which should free up the main staffers a bit to do new projects.

    At any rate, I’m going to reread your post a few times and share it with my staff, and see if any of us can think of new creative directions to take the site. Thanks for addressing this issue.

  26. Kayla says:

    Very good point. Niches are important, but so is variety. Well said.

  27. AlexG says:

    Good job Darren. Maybe the person who asked the question could continue to strengthen his position as #1 as new competition will arise

  28. I, for one, want people who don’t normally read my niche content to become readers and commenters. It would be great to inspire more people to travel and be adventerous. It a big part of the reason for the blog

  29. KyNam Doan says:

    Thanks for the tips Darren. I’m in a small enough niche (Cause Marketing) that I may be in a position to think about these issues within the coming year. At least I hope!

  30. Smart Boy says:

    Thank you for sharing this Darren. Although this said person is now the number one blog in his niche, you state that he isn’t THE largest site. It’s the perfect time for the blogger to start expanding his blog’s features – and start to develop an even larger community based off of his blog.

    He can proceed by developing a forum, invite other bloggers to blog on his space, and even start offering free resources and/or features that visitors in his specific niche would enjoy.

    The excellent advantage this particular blogger has, is traffic apparently. He can most definately use his traffic – and begin expanding even further.

  31. Much nicer way of explaining my gut response to the question: Want bigger results, play in a bigger game.

    Your answer laid out the path and explained what that bigger game would look like. What does number one really mean and what’s winning? Sometimes getting wrapped up in making your blog number one means losing sight of the bigger market — where a blog is one of many channels for reaching a market.

  32. Ness says:

    Hey I was looking to ask someone a similar question, glad I found your post.

  33. Robby G says:

    Nice concise short answer. Another informal post.

  34. Trevor says:

    Absolutely terribly advice. If you are the number one in your niche, your blog is successful. Don’t try and make it something else by broadening it beyond your target. Ask yourself who is your audience. If you are hitting them, and it appears you are, why are you worried about bigger numbers. Generating traffic for trafic’s sake is a fools errand. Do you know what advertising agencies sell? Ads not your niche product or services. Don’t listent to the marketers telling you to expand your scope unless you see a logical connection between the new space and your product or services. In other words, if you are the king of 7″ screws and that is what you want to be, then what’s your beef?

  35. David King says:

    Thanks for the post Darren!

    It’s always good to expand your horizons!

    There is always “another level”

    I hope you are having an awesome new year!

    Life is GREAT! and it keeps getting Greater!

    cheers!

    David Be King

  36. jamblemag says:

    Great tips Darren. My website has always been one of the top blogs in my niche of green travel – but mainly because there were so few in that niche. Recently several major organizations have launched sites in this niche, so my challenge now is to compete with sites that have much larger marketing budgets.

    Getting to number one is one challenge, staying there is another.

  37. Xurxo Vidal says:

    Drives home the point that blogging shouldn’t be treated as a silo strategy, but rather heavily integrated with other social network interaction.

    In the end a blog shouldn’t be a platform to “talk at” readers, but rather one where the author and readers can interact and dialog openly. That said, it makes a lot of sense to entice people to visit your blog by being active on other venues like forums, other blogs and various social networks.

    “To blog is to be social” some would say.

  38. Good points to think about! It is always wise to look at our approach to blogging from different angles, and the questions people pose gives us insights on new ideas of how to do this as well.

    It is interesting to learn what some peoples ideas of #1 really means… (^_^)

  39. Shirley says:

    Good answer.. As for me, I doubt that I’ll ever have to worry about be #1 in my niche… The competition is too fierce, which is good, i suppose. It keeps me motivated. :-)

  40. Linda says:

    Thinking outside of the box is always important these days with the downturn in the economy

  41. Darren Rowse says:

    Trevor – I think you’re not quite reading what I’m saying. I’m not saying broaden your niche – but broaden your outlook in terms of competition. The blogger I was talking to had the biggest blog on their topic – but not the biggest website. In comparison to the forums and other types of sites they were medium sized – I was just encouraging them to keep growing and not stop working on their blog just because their site was the biggest blog.

    I think many bloggers are so focused upon blogs and blogging that they forget that blogs are just one medium – one type of website.

  42. Jeff says:

    If traffic growth is important, make sure your niche is large enough.

  43. David K. says:

    My niche is a bit saturated but, still it was something I wanted to do for a while. I am confident that I will reach at least…#3

  44. Seems like if the bloggers wanted more traffic they would have authorized you to include the address in this post. :)

  45. Shawn Jooste says:

    I think that’s often the mistake bloggers make, in that they don’t look beyond the blogosphere to compare their competition. You may be the number 1 blog, but you’re only the 100th site. It’s in understanding the difference where you get the real leverage in becoming the number 1 of anything.

  46. Edward Brown says:

    I think you’re doing fine, lol…much better than my blog!! :).

    I just only hope to be this successful with a blog by 2010…

    Have a great day! -Edward Brown

    PS- I’d appreciate it if you’d give some advice to me on my blog about making money, internet marketing, and hyips. Check it out at http://www.edwardsmoneyblog.tk

  47. Fabietto says:

    Thank you very much for suggestions!

    Fabietto, set designer and blogger

  48. Scott says:

    Nice post.

    We bloggers do need to look beyond our niche to the fringe areas and also the static websites and social media that offer great advise. We need to stay up on our subject and read and write articles to support our opinions. There are endless ideas and we need to think about new ideas and stay current.

    Good advise!

  49. If the niche one chooses is not capable of attracting people than its not worth the effort. One should choose niche according to his knowledge as well as the requirement of the people
    Good reply given by you Darren. I am waiting for my favourite money making online posts. :)

    Regards
    Laksh
    http://makemoneyonline-withme.blogspot.com/

  50. we should always be watchful of our closest competitor too..they may catch up with you in no time..but to get far ahead, always look at other websites..there’s alway something new that you could offer to compete with them..