Your niche is out there, hiding in plain sight. They are buying products every single day, but maybe not from your business. Maybe your competitor is dangling something shiny in front of them that they can’t resist. Or maybe you’ve simply been overlooked. Either way, it’s a problem. Somewhere along the line, your connection with your niche isn’t working as well as you’d like. Maybe your sales funnel isn’t effective or maybe you’re not as engaging as you think. But the path a consumer follows from first contact to online checkout has two basic formulas: Impulse Purchase Buyer searches for something specific Buyer stumbles on sales page Buyer makes a purchase The Long Game Buyer sees something interesting, maybe signs up for a newsletter or starts following you on social media Buyer reads info, reviews, maybe compares different offers Buyer considers the available options….maybe waits for a sale Finally, after many interactions, buyer makes a purchase If you’re trying to grab impulse buyers than your SEO focuses on phrases like: “buy baby stroller” or “best baby strollers for twins”. But things get tricky when you start trying for The Long Game consumers. Large businesses have entire departments with huge budgets that determine the best way to get on your niche’s radar screen. And it’s really tough when you don’t have an entire marketing department to uncover where your niche is hiding. That’s where free SEO tools become your best ally. Here are a few that can help: #1. Get to Know Your Niche Your target market isn’t one dimensional. They are all diverse people with multiple interests. Yet, many of those interest overlap and that’s where you can help guide them to your eCommerce offer. One way to uncover that information is by using a tool like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, a free keyword suggestion and SEO optimization tool. Let’s say my business developed a meditation app. A simple search using Ubersuggest highlighted the following keyword: Anxiety relief apps are not exactly what my fictional app is about. Yet, it’s in the ballpark. People who search for anxiety relief apps are the same people that may love a meditation app. I can make some great blog and social media content using this keyword. Ubersuggest also shows how difficult it would be to outrank this keyword or outperform in a PPC campaign, and also shares info on competitors which would be essential information in a marketing campaign. A tool like this is the perfect place to start your detective work. Not only will you be able to learn what your niche searches for, but where your business can slip in and take advantage of the competition. #2. Learn How Your Niche Uses Social Media There are actually many free tools that help uncover how people use social media. Moz’s Followerwonk has a free version that allows an incredibly detailed report for any Twitter user who has under 25k followers (the paid version allows reports for larger reports). Again, I searched for something within my niche’s obvious interests: yoga. Using Followerwonk’s free version, you can search Twitter bios, compare users, and analyze certain influence data. This allows me to see what types of things yoga enthusiasts say, where they are located, what times of day they are most active, and their inferred gender and ages. A tool like this is an obvious asset for social media management, but it’s more than that. It’s a peek into your niche’s social media habits and you can create targeted content based on that information. Followerwonk shows that yoga is trending in London and Los Angeles. We could easily create SEO based content like The Top 10 Yoga Retreats in London that may attract users to our meditation app’s sales page. #3. Track What Content is Trending Google Trends is great at showing us what’s trending over time (and it’s also free!). But don’t discount other trackers that share different data like BuzzSumo’s Most Shared app. It’s more than just topics that are trending. It shows exactly what content has the most shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. This time I searched using the phrase anxiety relief. Who knew we’d get such a diverse set of results including, Donald Trump, magic mushrooms, and something called veggie caps! The idea is to see any opportunities to create similar (but better!) content that could be highly shareable. Cannabis is also a paired with anxiety relief in a number of articles, and that connection may be something our fictional meditation app developer never considered. Remember, your ideal customer is a blend of many interests. It’s sort of like playing that game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to see how things are connected. But instead of people, you’re trying to uncover the topics (translated into keywords) that the majority of your niche searches for every day. Win The Long Game Niche Using SEO Tools We all know that finding the exact pathway to our niche is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It’s trial and error, and can have mixed results even if you have a skilled marketing department to do the work for you. It can seem impossible when you’re a struggling small business owner without the budget to hire marketing experts. Yet, there are ways to leverage SEO tools to uncover a niche without spending your entire marketing budget. Boostrapping means coming up with the best alternatives that you can afford without sacrificing quality. In this case, it means gathering information from a variety of sources until you have a comprehensive view of your target market. This information can help you create a pathway for any customer to find you, whether they are an impulse buyer or take weeks to make a purchase. I used a simple example to highlight how to find new pathways to your niche. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter if they take the short or long road to your sales page. It only matters that they eventually make a purchase. And that’s how you win The Long Game.