Content Shock, Saturation and Niche Research

Content Saturation

Unless you have a existing niche service or product, you’re heading face-first into a highly competitive environment in this content arms race….and the status quo will not work. How do you differentiate yourself and your business? How do you finish the sentence, “Only we….”? For example, I regularly hear any number of small business owners tout their customer service, but, frankly, everyone does that. Unless you deliver your customers’ products to their homes via a Rolls Royce driven by a billionaire, hand carried by an A-list Hollywood star in a diamond-crusted case and installed by a sparkling robot, with an instant, full money, no questions asked returns policy after a lifetime of use, excellent customer service is what everyone expects. It’s not a differentiator, it’s a given.

The same goes for the areas of interest and relevance for your content. Content saturation has a proportion of niche to impact. To quote Marcus Sheridan, “The more content an industry/niche has written about it, the harder it is for a blog to make headway and find success in that field. And when an industry has very little online content available to the masses, it can often be gobbled up within almost no time at all.”

Christopher Penn has written about how to find out whether your particular niche is saturated or not.  He says that there is a free, somewhat inaccurate method, and the expensive, accurate method.

  • Free, somewhat inaccurate method
Open up your search engine of choice and either a spreadsheet or paper and pen to track things. Type in your industry and the word blog.  Be specific. He used Marcus Sheridan’s industry, swimming pools as an example. That search returned over 8 million results….that is a LOT of content about swimming pools. Content Shock has taken place at that level. Digging deeper, though, is there a niche to specialize in here? So next, Christopher tried “saltwater swimming pools” AND blog. This netted 8,000+ results. This is WAY better for a more defined niche…there is opportunity here. Next he repeated this process for other niche topics representing potential markets, like in-ground swimming pools, fiberglass pools, and the like. After a number of iterations, you should have a general sense of where you can get a good foothold.
  • Expensive, more accurate
This method involves subscriptions to social media and SEO tools that can do a great job of accurately assessing the content available within a specific time period….the time component can really be helpful in figuring out how close a topic is to content saturation. None of these tools is cheap, and since for most small businesses cost is a big factor, many opt for what I call “digital sweat equity” and work the free method.

So now you have some numbers and some topics, but how can you tell if an area is truly saturated?  What’s the definition here? Penn provides some rough guidelines, based on those search engine results in the first method:
  • Fewer than 10,000 pages of returned results: Lots of opportunity here.
  • Between 10,000 and 100,000 pages of returned results: Not easy but doable. Will require some investment, top-notch content and specific strategies and tactics.
  • Between 100,000 and 1 million pages of returned results: This will be extremely tough. Competing on content alone will be nearly impossible. You will need more work around launching and sharing strategies an tactics.
  • More than 1 million pages of returned results: This niche is completely saturated. Content Shock exists in this niche and is likely to bury you, regardless of the quality of your content.  What Schaefer calls Content Code strategies are likely your only possible chance for strategic leverage.
Examining the content saturation is crucial to getting to and understanding what kinds of work you have ahead of you. If you have a real opportunity in your niche you can concentrate on creating and amplifying great content. As noted, the more saturated you find a particular niche, you can research additional areas to leverage and focus your efforts there, or mitigate higher saturation with some well thought strategies and tactics.
Want to work through this great book with me? Pick up a copy of  Mark Shaefer’s “The Content Code” and join the conversation here in the comments or on my Social Sapiens Facebook page.

One thought on “Content Shock, Saturation and Niche Research

  1. Pingback: Weekly Digital Marketing, Design & E-commerce Round-Up: 4/20 to 4/24 - Tribe Interactive

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