Do you feel like your business is in a super competitive niche?
Are tons of people putting out helpful content and you feel like you’re always playing catch up?
Or that you’re never really the one being cutting-edge or innovative in your space?
Today I’m going to review 5 ways to stay one step ahead so that you can stand out…
… no matter how many others are creating content around the same topics!
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Do you feel like your business is in a super competitive niche? Are tons of people putting out helpful content and you’re feeling like you’re always playing catch up or that you’re never really the one being cutting edge or innovative in your space?
Today I’m going to review 5 ways to stay one step ahead in your space so you can stand out no matter how many other people are creating content around the same topics.
And just one thing I want to mention upfront – if you listen to this podcast or hang out much in my Facebook group, The Unconventional RD Community on FB, then you know that I’m actually not a huge fan of the word *competition*…
I believe that seeing others do the same thing in the same niche as you is actually a great indicator that the business idea is viable.
It’s super unrealistic to think that you should be the ONLY person showing up as an expert in any given space. It’s a great idea to reframe your thought process and embrace these other business owners in your niche as valuable peers rather than someone you’re trying to one-up or do better than.
So really, the point of this podcast is not to pit people against each other or try to always one up another brand, but rather, to think creatively to help you become a leader in your space instead of someone who tends to follow the trends that others set.
So let’s get into it!
Alright so if you listen to this podcast, you probably know that I love love love to chat all things SEO and evergreen content creation.
However… it is important to note that SEO is not the end-all be-all for everything in your business.
Sometimes there are OTHER reasons to create content, outside of just Google rankings and organic traffic, that will still benefit your business.
For example, maybe you feel that you need to create content around a certain topic even if you have no chance of ranking for it because you feel that it is a foundational piece that needs to be there in order to serve your audience and/or establish topical authority.
Or maybe there’s something happening in your niche that you’d like to write an opinion piece on to share with your email list or social platforms. Even though that content may never bring you google traffic, it could still help establish you as a thought leader in your space, build a deeper emotional connection with your audience, or get a lot of social shares which could help broaden your reach and build your audience in new ways.
Or maybe there are certain pieces of content that you can create that aren’t designed to rank in Google, but rather are designed to get backlinks. Things like original data or reports that YOU can be the source of.
These are the types of exciting things I’m going to talk about in this episode today.
Extra things you can do to stand out in your niche and stay ahead of the curve.
So let’s dive in!
#1: Keep up on the trends
If you want to be on the leading edge of your niche, it’s important to keep an eye on the trends that are happening in your space right now.
If something new and noteworthy is happening right now, don’t hesitate to create content around it, even if no one else in your niche has done so yet.
By monitoring the trends in real time, you can be a leader when a new trend emerges, rather than the 500th person to create the same type of content after it has already peaked.
So what’s the best way to pay attention to what’s trending?
There are a few strategies that I really like:
Option #1) Use Google Trends
Did you know that Google has a free tool that you can use to explore what is trending right now in Google search?
It’s pretty cool and worth poking around on! You can find it at trends.google.com
Once you’re there, you can type in the topic of your niche.
Let’s try something super broad to start, like “recipes”
If you type that into the trends search bar, you can scroll down to the bottom of the results page and see what is currently rising in search volume.
Those could be emerging topics that you could write about and perhaps capture a new audience with.
For example, we can see that in the recipe space, the term “ninja creami recipes” is currently being searched 1,000% more than usual, so perhaps that could be a good topic to create a recipe on right now that maybe other people in our space don’t have on their radar yet.
Apparently ninja creami is a brand of ice cream maker that is popular right now, and generally speaking, capitalizing on new cooking trends can be a great way to get new pops of traffic if you’re one of the first people to create content on it, cause the competition is probably pretty low.
This appliance came out about a year ago, so I guess it is still gaining in popularity over time.
So just to check, I plugged the kw “ninja creami recipes” into semrush just to see what the volume and difficulty was and they estimate that ninja creami recipes is searched 12,100 times per month and has a keyword difficulty of 22 (in case you were wondering, that is super super low competition).
I also googled the kw on my phone just to see what would come up, and it starts with some ads to buy the appliance for around $200, then a roundup post of ninja creami recipes, the recipe carousel with some recipes from bloggers, and then some more round ups and regular recipes in the search results.
It also has a section for visual stories – so that is a hint that if you create content on this topic, it is probably worth your time to also create a Google web story as well to try and nab a spot in the visual stories carousel.
Or if you already have a post about a ninja creami recipe and you have NOT yet created a web story to go along with it, that’s a great indicator that that would probably be a post to prioritize right now over other posts that aren’t on trending topics at the moment.
For a non-food example, you could type in other words in your niche, like, maybe “wellness” and see what shows up in the trending chart on the bottom right.
If you can find terms that have the label “breakout” that’s a good sign that maybe that is still a low difficulty search term because it’s popular yet new, so maybe not that many people have written about it yet.
In this example, the term “mct wellness reviews” is a breakout search term and according to semrush it is searcher 5400 times per month and only has a kw difficulty of 24. Again, another potentially really great keyword to target and an opportunity to definitely stand out if that is a relevant topic for your niche!
The key here is to mostly look for breakout search terms if you’re hoping to rank new content in google search, but if you’re interested in possibly promoting older content with a new social push with maybe a tik tok video or google web story, you could check to see what terms are popular right now to detemine which content to prioritize first.
I also recommend playing around with the date range filter at the top. By default, it will show you breakout and trending searches from the last 12 months, but if you want to find stuff that is super relevant right NOW, especially if you are planning on promoting a google web story or looking for timely content to promote to your email list, you probably want to look at ideas from the last week.
Right now it is early November, so Thanksgiving is all the rage in the recipe space. If you just look at what’s trending in the last week, it is pretty much ALL Thanksgiving recipes. There was nothing new or noteworthy about the terms that were ranking, so I wouldn’t use any of those ideas as ways to stand out in your niche, but it can help you keep a pulse on what people want right this moment so you can make sure that you’re putting out content that people want.
For example, if you see that green bean casserole is trending, you could type that into your keyword research tool and see if there are any longer tail keywords around that topic that you might have a chance to rank for.
For example, green been casserole without mushrooms is searched 480 times per month and has a difficulty of 28 in semrush, which is a realistic difficulty range for even a newer blogger.
If I type in the word nutrition and filter to see what is trending in just the last 7 days, I can see that a lot of people are searching for pomegranate nutrition right now, so that could be something to create or promote timely content on as a way to connect with my audience.
Another fun tip is to try typing “tik tok” into the trends search bar and then filtering to see what is trending over the last 30 days.
If I do that and then further hone it to see just what is trending in California, I can see that “tik tok cinnamon rolls” was trending over the last month.
Semrush says that that phrase is searched 3600 times per month and only has a kw difficulty score of 30, so perhaps reviewing trending tik tok topics on your blog could be a way to stand out as well.
Option #2) Exploding Topics
Another fun tool you can use to keep an eye on emerging trends is called Exploding Topics – and this is a freemium tool created by none other than SEO expert Brian Dean (you may recognize him as the founder of the popular seo blog, backlinko).
Basically, this tool analyzes search data and mentions across popular forums like Reddit etc. to try and find trending topics as they are just starting to become popular so that you can capitalize on that emerging trend before everyone else.
You can play around with some of their data directly on the website or you can sign up for the email list to receive weekly updates of trending topics.
The email list is free, but they only reveal the data on topics that have already reached a certain popularity level.
If you want access to the truly emerging topics, you have to sign up for their paid service, which costs anywhere from $47 to $97 per month, depending on your needs.
I’m not super focused on trying to capitalize on trends in my business, so I am not enrolled in the paid plan, but it is an option if that is an area of focus for you, like if a key component of your brand is covering emerging news or products or if you like to create products in emerging niches, for example.
Just to give you a peek into the type of trending topics you might get altered about, this week’s trending topics I received via their free email digest included silvopasture, which is a new type of sustainable agriculture, interdental brush (a new type of toothbrush that does a better job getting between your teeth), sproud milk (an up and coming brand of pea milk), and ITOps, which is some IT related term that isn’t really relevant to me and is honestly over my head.
So perhaps if you are in the sustainability niche, silvopasture could be something you could talk about or if you are in the plant-based niche or pediatric niche, talking about a new brand of pea milk could be relevant to you as well.
You can also poke around on their website and look for things that are trending over the last 3, 6 12 months, etc. in various categories.
For example, in the “food” section, you might pay attention to growing topics of interest like pumpkin seed protein, a newer low-fodmap food brand called fody foods, or even something random like sea moss gummies that have been growing in popularity.
In the fashion section, you may notice that corduroy, ear cuffs, and y2k outfits are trending, etc. etc.
I wouldn’t spend too much time procrasti-searching for ideas, but it can be a fun way to find new and emerging topics to talk about with your audience.
#2: what people are talking about
Aside from using tools to monitor trends based on search data and mentions, you can do you own kind of monitoring just by staying plugged into consumer and professional spaces in your niche.
There are 4 tips I have for keeping up with what’s being talked about in your space.
Option #1) Join Facebook groups and forums
This is probably one of the easiest ways to stay up to date on what people are discussing RIGHT NOW in your niche.
Hop over to Facebook and use the search bar to find groups that are focused on your niche. And depending on whether you are trying to speak to and reach colleagues in your niche or if you are trying to reach laypeople, you can probably find different groups targeting professionals or the general public.
I actually like to join both, so that I can see what practitioners are focused on at the moment and what may become a larger topic in the future and also what regular people interested in the topic are asking, what areas they are struggling with or seem to be extra confused about.
Sometimes I will use the topics people are asking about in these groups as keyword research ideas or sometimes just for topics that I might want to talk about on social media or in my email marketing to better serve and connect with them.
For example… if I was looking for something to write about on my functional nutrition blog, I could pop into some of the functional nutrition facebook groups I’m in and see what the hot topics of discussion are.
Right now I can see in some of my groups that people are talking about the potential inaccuracies of GI Map, so that could be something to discuss or add to any content that I might already have on that topic.
Or from a more lay-person perspective, I saw some questions about the best non-pasteurized fermented food brands – that coud be something you could create content around, maybe not for SEO purposes if no one is specifically searching for that, but maybe it could be part of an email opt-in offer where you share your favorite functional foods at the grocery store or something.
Those are just 2 quick examples of how you can pay attention to hot topics happening around you to make sure you’re aware of what’s relevant and happening now in your niche.
And of course, if Facebook is not really your jam, you can also poke around on other types of forums like Reddit or Quora and do the same thing.
Option #2) Pay attention to conference topics
Another tip you can use to stay abreast of hot topics in your niche is to pay attention to the agendas for conferences in your niche.
Conferences do typically have a longer lag time, so they might not capture SUPER breakout topics in your niche, but it might be a good way to double check that your content is comprehensive and covers the variety of topics that are relevant in your niche.
Option #3) Read publications in your niche
Another way to follow the trends is to read publications in your niche – that could be professional journals and publications or more lay people publications.
For example, if you are into pediatric nutrition, subscribe to the professional journals in your niche (you don’t have to necessarily get the paper copies, but you can subscribe to get the TOC emailed to you whenever a new issue comes out). That way you can take note of any emerging research you might want to share in your niche.
Option #4) Set up Google Scholar alerts
And finally, you can also set up Google Scholar alerts for keywords related to your niche.
If you go to Google Scholar and search for a certain term, like, let’s say, “celiac”, on the bottom of the left hand column you will see a little button that says “create alert”.
If you click that, it will create an alert for that keyword and send you a round up email every few days or so with any new research that has been published around that keyword.
This is a REALLY great way to find new research right when it comes out so you can share it with your audience.
For example, back when I was publishing content within the Functional Nutrition Library, I found some really cool emerging research about gluten protease supplements that degrade gluten in the gut and even genetically engineered wheat that contains proteases that break down gluten.
I don’t know that I would have run across that info as easily if I hadn’t been keeping up on the literature at the time. So I highly recommend this tip if your audience is interested in the latest research in your niche!
#3: Look outside your niche for inspiration
This is a really fun one..
Sometimes we can develop tunnel vision within our niche. We’re just constantly bombarded with messaging from the same large accounts and especially if you’re newer to your space, you might feel that posting that same type of content is teh only way to succeed, since those are the examples of success currently in front of you.
But there is so much value in getting creative and looking OUTSIDE of your niche for inspiration as well.
For example… if you are in the IBS space and create a lot of content around special diets, like maybe low fodmap content, and you’re feeling in a little bit of a creative rut… can you branch out to other niches for some new perspective?
Like, get out the low fodmap bubble and check out what other people are doing in other spaces. For example… maybe you got an email from a clothing company with a holiday gift guide that you found really useful.
Could you perhaps create an IBS holiday gift guide? Or… a low-fodmap gift guide? Or something along those lines?
Or… maybe you have been really enjoying reality tv meme content on your personal feed… could you start creating funny memes for your niche that might go viral and grow your audience?
Or… maybe you really like some content in the baby led weaning space that gives suggestions on how to cut or prepare foods for babies of different ages. Could you adapt that strategy to the low fodmap space too? Like, maybe great graphics that visually show the portion sizes for various foods to be considered low fodmap? Or demo some low-fodmap swaps for popular ingredients or recipes?
Or maybe you really like an app or membership site in another niche – could you create something like that to serve the needs of your audience? The sky is the limit here! Get creative!
#4: Build a BRAND, not just a website
Tip #4 is to always make sure that you are trying your best to build an actual BRAND that provides value and solves a problem in your space.
If you enter into your business thinking that you’re *just* starting a blog or an IG account or a YouTube channel, etc., it’s really easy to do one of two things:
- Accidentally create content that’s more for YOU, like a personal journal or collection of your thoughts, vs a resource that truly helps someone
- Or get too hyper-focused on a specific strategy, like, using SEO to gain website visitors, while losing track of the bigger picture of why your website exists in the first place and what would make someone think oh wow, I need to bookmark this site to come back to it again and again.
Really sit down and think about your unique selling point (USP) – what makes you unique? What value are you adding to the world? What is the point of your brands existence?
If you can’t answer those questions, there is definitely work to do. And it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right now… but make sure that you are actively working on finding those answers and not just burying your head in the sand and creating content without a clear vision on WHY you are doing so.
Wanna know if you’re doing a good job building a brand? Try typing your brand name into a keyword research tool (or even just in Google with the keywords everywhere browser extension turned on) and see if you are getting enough monthly searches to register within those tools.
For example, this brand, the unconventional rd, gets 90 searches a month.
My old membership site, the functional nutrition library, still gets 30 searches per month, even though I haven’t been running it for 2 years now, and the accompanying blog, functional nutrition answers, is searched for 20 times per month.
My name, Erica Julson, gets 90 searches per month, and my name + functional nutrition library gets another 20 searches per month.
While the overall monthly search volume is relatively low, that is still a great sign to Google that what I’m doing matters to people and that people are going out of their way to specifically find what I am creating.
If you look up your name or your brand name and nothing comes up, don’t worry, you can still get there. That’s just a signal that you need to work on your visibility. How can you get your brand in front of MORE people? (hint hint – SEO and getting in front of other people’s audiences, maybe by doing podcast interviews or media interviews, for example, are great ways to accomplish this).
And honestly, dream big! There are many dietitians who run brands that get thousands of google searches each month. It is definitely an achievable goal and something you can consciously work on improving!
Another fun thing you can try to do as part of building your brand is to try and create original data that people can cite and link back to when they are creating content.
For example, if you have a large audience of people following a vegan diet, perhaps you can survey that audience every year and compile data or a report that you can then share widely in an effort to get backlinks.
Some fun ways I have seen this done…
- Social Media Examiner publishes an annual report every year on the state of social media marketing, trying to capture data on the platforms and strategies that are currently trending or losing popularity amongst digital marketers.
- Food Blogger Pro put out an annual food blogger survey and then shared the data in a report to summarize some stats on what it’s like to be a food blogger – like what the most popular monetization streams are, how many hours people work each week, etc.
- ConvertKit similarly puts out a survey to collect information on how people are using email marketing each year.
- I’ve even seen people use Google Trends to find original data on things like which Thanksgiving recipes people search for the most in each state within the US, then they made an eye catching infographic and pitched that to the media and it got picked up by a bunch of news outlets and that person who originally created that data probably got a bunch of great backlinks from that.
So don’t be afraid to get creative and allow your brand to be known for something. Something that’s worth telling your friends about. That’s the key to growing with digital marketing tactics but also organically through word of mouth.
#5: Keep experimenting
And finally, my last tip for standing out in your niche is to keep experimenting… Resist the urge to stay safe or become stagnant.
There’s so much fun and excitement in trying new things in your business. Let go of the stress and the need for everything to be perfect. If you have an idea for a new type of content or offer or message, go for it! Test it out in the real world and see how it goes.
Sure, not everything you try will be a success, but that’s totally okay. Get comfortable with trying new things and then leaning into what works. You might be surprised at what resonates, and you never would have known if you didn’t try!
Some ways to get creative include – playing around with your email marketing tactics or list building strategies. Trying new marketing, advertising, or launch tactics, and of course, staying up to date with cutting edge SEO strategies.
And of course, I’ve gotta end this episode with a plug for my course, SEO Made Simple, because it is an AWESOME place to stay up to date with what’s working for people now with SEO.
In fact, someone in the students group this week just shared an example of how she recently started a new super niched food blog just two months ago and has already gotten over 15k visits to her site in the last 30 days. Like WHAAAT.
Being in the same room as people who are doing big and exciting things online can be super inspiring and perhaps even spark some ideas for you that you weren’t even on your radar.
I also host monthly OH calls for students in my course where we talk about SEO current events and I go into a lot of depth answering people’s questions, giving feedback on content, and demoing the latest techniques for content creation, keyword research, schema, backlink analysis, etc.
So if you’re interested in learning more about SEO as a wellness professional and are looking to join a group of over 750 professionals who are also growing their web presence through blogging, I invite you to put your name on my course waitlist at seowaitlist.com
I have a rolling enrollment set up for the course, depending on when you add your name to thlist, so you will typically get an email with an opportunity to join the course within a few weeks of adding your name to the waitlist. It’s not like you have to wait months and months for an opportunity to get in, so definitely add your name if you want to learn more! Again, that’s SEOwaitlist.com
Thta’s it for today, and I hope you have a great rest of your day!
Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.