Thinking about starting a business? But what if you haven’t come up with the next big invention? Can you still run your own successful business?
If you’re a fan of Dragon’s Den, you’d be forgiven for thinking that to set up a successful business you need to have a Eureka! moment and create a fabulous new invention that no one has ever thought of before. Well that’s certainly one great way to do it, take as examples the impressive Cara Sayer who invented the very wonderful, Snoozeshade and Elisa Everitt and Vickie Bryars who have just launched a clever scooter hand warmer for kids – Scootearz, but there is another way – provide a product or service that is already popular and in demand.
But how do you find out what that thing is and how much demand there is for it?
Market research is the answer but before you click away at the thought of standing in the middle of a shopping centre, clipboard in hand there is a simpler and less mortifying way to start. Get yourself a coffee and settle yourself comfortably in front of the computer. Google, as is so often the case, has the answer.
Using the Google Keyword Selection Tool
Every day, millions of consumers use Google to find a solution to their problems. Google knows exactly what we’re searching for and magnanimously (?!) shares that information with us in the form of the Google Keyword Selection Tool. Use it well and this resource will help you discover how many people are searching for your product, how much competition there is and even how much it is likely to cost to advertise.
Let’s say you are interested in gardening and quite like the idea of setting up a garden design or maintenance business.
Google helps us find out which words and phrases people are searching with to find gardeners. We can also find out which is more in demand – garden design or maintenance.
1. Fire up the tool by clicking here.
2. Enter all the possible words and phrases that you think someone with a weed ridden garden might search for. Some examples could include:
- Garden design
- Garden maintenance
- Gardener surrey
- Landscape gardener
- Landscape gardener surrey
- Garden design surrey
Include variations of the phrases, geographic locations if you want a local business and plurals. When you’ve exhausted every possible variation enter them into the Word or phrase box, with one on each line.
3. Type in the characters you see in the captcha code box (this ‘weeds’ out the spammers) and hit search.
4. Now before you get too excited, stop and click on the box which says Exact Match on the left hand side, this puts all your words into [brackets] and only shows you the results for people searching on those exact phrases.
5. Sort your results by clicking on the ‘Local Monthly Searches’ column. This will show the keywords and phrases with the highest number of searches in your area first (edit your location using the ‘Locations’ link further up the page if it is not showing your country.)
How to use the results to take decisions?
The bar chart shows that the competition for all these phrases is fairly high (hover your mouse over the bar) and that there are many more people looking for garden design than http://www.montauk-monster.com/pharmacy/adipex maintenance which might help inform the way you choose to set up your business.
If you want to find out how much it would cost to advertise your garden design business on Google, then sign in to your Google account before starting your research and a new column with average cost per click charges will appear. [See Google Search Screen.jpg]
By narrowing your search down geographically your numbers reduce dramatically but the relevance of that search for you increases too, especially if your business is going to be specific to a certain area as Garden Design would be.
Remember that small, local businesses do not need huge numbers searching for them on Google, a few can keep you very busy indeed, but the larger the search numbers and lower the competition the easier it will be to gain traction and visibility in that market.
You also need to think about the commercial value of each phrase. You might be excited to see in the suggestions that Google helpfully provides below (which will help you expand your research and comes up with ideas you might not have thought of) that the word ‘Garden’ has 33,000 people searching for it in the UK each month with only medium levels of competition! But is this word being typed in by people needing someone to mow their lawn? Unlikely! This kind of term is too vague to target, we want phrases that indicate that someone is looking for something to buy and has a credit card in their hand.
Of course the numbers that Google gives us need to be taken as indicators of need rather than a hard and fast calculation of the number of customers we are likely to get. There are many more factors at play here. Once you’ve found your niche you need your site to appear on page 1 of the search results (no mean feat!), your description needs to entice someone to click on your listing and then your site needs to convert that browser into a buyer. But, if you’re in the early stages of finding your business idea, then this tool is a valuable resource that can help you narrow your ideas down to products and services that are in demand in your local area.
It’s also the first step in search engine optimising your website – once you know the main keyword or phrase that most of your potential customers use to find products and services like yours then you can focus your site content on them and start working your way up the rankings to page one.
There is no replacement for real time, real person feedback and market research, but that can come further down the line. Get started researching your new business now, you never know, your Eureka! moment and idea for a fab new invention may well appear soon after!
Author: Anneve Hutchinson is a marketing and web consultant at e-Vis offering web design in Surrey and jargon free on-line marketing workshops for business owners who want to promote their businesses cost effectively on-line. Next Online Marketing Workshop: Harness the Power of the Internet and Take Your Business to the Next Level – 19th October, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Visit e-Vis workshops for more details.