Posted by Lucy Langdon
When I talk about ‘niche blogs’, I mean blogs that are regularly updated and focus mainly, but not exclusively, on a certain subject area like, for example, crocheting or tea. More often than not, a blog with a specialty will be of a much higher quality than your average ‘rambling and musings of x’ site. However, with a zillion new blogs published per hour, it’s getting increasingly difficult to ferret these quality blogs out, particularly if they’re not in the business of being found. That makes it sound like I’m talking about underground crochet blogs. I’m not. I just mean blogs that aren’t particularly well optimised for the search engines and don’t know an awful lot about things like title tags or keyphrases.
Why do you want to find niche blogs?
There are a few good reasons but the main one is
There is almost certainly a blogging community around something that your site offers (granted, you might have to get a bit creative here). Building a relationship with other websites that cover the same topic is a great way to get genuine quality links from a diverse range of domains- all good things in the search engines’ eyes.
A second reason is plain old simple traffic. A good niche blogger will have a dedicated following and will probably be linked up with several other niche bloggers, each with their own respectable readership. Getting an editorial link from this kind of blog should drive well-converting visitors to your site.
Lastly, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this niche blogger knows more about their subject area than you do. If you build up a proper relationship, you could gain more than links and traffic, you could also benefit from their expertise.
Why it’s difficult to find them
They’re niche, so while they may be top of their game, they’re not necessarily going to make it any ‘top x’ lists. As mentioned above, there are also a lot of blogs and although the best will usually make themselves known in one way or another, finding and assessing their value to you can still be a frustrating and time-consuming business.
How to find them
Before you even start looking, have a creative think about which ‘niches’ your site fits into. A spot of brainstorming and keyphrase research can help with this. For example, if you have a craft site, don’t just start by looking for ‘craft blogs’- think about going both broader and more specific: sites that talk about design, creativity or children’s/kids’ activities might have a regular spot for craft; focus in on knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery, lace, patchwork, applique, quilting…. the list goes on.
Here are a few things you can do once you’ve got this long list of subject areas:
- swing by a few blog directories. Technorati‘s a good place to start, but check out this post for a fuller list of directories. Where it all gets a bit rabbit hole-esque is when you get to the niche blog directories. When you’re searching through any of these directories, be aware that they won’t necessarily categorize everything in the same way. All those blogs you found under ‘crafts’ in one directory might be in the ‘arts’ category in another. This is where that list of keyphrases comes in useful.
- it’s also worth sticking those keyphrases into WordPress tag search. I’m not really sure what ‘most relevant’ means here, but it seems like a sensible enough list!
- once you’ve found a few decent looking niche blogs, take a good look at their blogrolls. If the list isn’t too long, have a hunt through and pull out any decent looking sites. If the list is too long, pull out all the blogrolls, stick them in a spreadsheet and highlight any duplicates.
- Google’s Blog search is pretty good- particularly the ‘Related Blogs’ bit
- do a few creative searches in Google. If you’re after links, try something like "intitle:<subject> guest post". A blog that’s been open to guest posts in the past, is much more likely to be willing to engage again.
I’ve run through each of these tips with my craft example:
- blog directories: you’ll have to change the setting slightly in Technorati, but check out this page for some useful information. There’s a list of really high (Technorati) authority blogs, each closely related to my search term. The related tags box on the right is also useful for expanding that keyphrase list. I also looked through the blogs on BOTW, which has a craft category and a dedicated knitting and crocheting subcategory. It’s not easy to get listed in this particular directory so I’m confident that this list would be worth spending time exploring.
- the WordPress tag search brings up a long list of knitting blogs. The list is date-ordered and there aren’t any options to change this, so I would advise the strength of this list would be to strike while the iron is hot and contact bloggers while the post they’ve written is still at the forefront of their mind.
- blogrolls: this knitting site (listed in the top ten of the knitting blogs in Technorait) has this useful ‘Blogs I read‘ page, as does this blog, this blog and this blog. You helpful knitters you!
- Google Blog Search results. Have a look at those Related Blogs- a couple aren’t really relevant, but this knitting parlour blog looks pretty engaging.
- Creative search in Google- some great results!
How to chose your target niche blogs
There are lots of ways you could order this list of blogs, but a lot of the choosing just comes through common sense. For example, there’s no point putting a blog with three posts into the list in the first place, or one that hasn’t been updated in 6 months. If you’ve got the mozBar, it’s easy enough to rule out any blogs with no DmR (or, if they’re on a platform, no mR on any pages).
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, you need to find contact details. If this proves difficult, the bloggers probably aren’t down with being contacted like this so it might be best to take them off the list at this point.
Don’t spam them! These are quality blogs that value the area you work in- caution and respect are wise bedfellows. Here are a few ideas:
- We’ve had great successes asking for reviews of products as long as we lay our cards on the table from email numero uno. If your site sells something inexpensive and reviewable then this might be the route for you.
- Sending some linkbait round a few of your favourite niche blogs is a great way to get that first wave of interest. You can incentivise this by giving one or two blogs a headstart and letting them know about your latest linkbait a little before everyone else.
- As I mentioned briefly above, guest posting is a really good way to get featured on a niche blog, particularly if you have some clout in your industry. Again, offer something that makes the blogger feel valued- an exclusive interview with the CEO of your company or some stats from your analytics.
This post has some great advice for contacting blogs. It’s meant for artists trying to showcase work, but it’s applicable to this endeavour too.
Any other ideas about how to find, evaluate and otherwise make the most of niche blogs would be much appreciated in the comments. Thank you.
(Thanks to Chiszeo for the cute image)
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