The days of launching a new product strategy without a full data analysis are over. Whether you manufacture shoes, publish books or offer local landscaping services, as a business owner you are able to make much more informed decisions in the 21st century thanks to some free tools from Google. Business owners, product managers and executives alike should take note, as these tools will give you confidence in your new product launches…if researched correctly.
Be “Future-Focused” in Your Product Vision & Strategy
Wayne Gretzky once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” This quote has often been applied to business, and is critical to remember when making product strategy and development decisions. If you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, and you understand your customers (their likes, dislikes, problems and needs), you can make educated forecasts of what they might want in a new product. Coupling this intimate industry/customer knowledge with factual data about trends via online search can help you stay ahead of the curve and identify budding new markets supported by growing consumer interest.
Using SEO Tools for Product Research & Strategy
So how do you use this factual data? Google provides a number of tools to help you conduct keyword research and advertise your business with their AdWords program. Luckily, these tools are free. They can help with industry/consumer research, support innovative business strategies and then help to prioritize your new product development process. Here’s a few simple tools that will help you plan out a cutting edge and thoroughly-researched product development strategy.
1. Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to Understand the Customer
This tool is provided by Google to allow businesses to discover and bid on keywords for which they want to target potential customers via sponsored ads in Google’s search results. However, you don’t need to spend money with Google to use it. Simply enter some general “seed keywords” that describe your potential product(s) in order to get an idea of what customers are looking for in search engines, and how highly searched those terms are.
Pro Tip: Click the checkboxes for “Exact Match” (deselect “Broad Match”) and “Only show search queries closely related…” and then sort Google’s “Keyword Ideas” that Google gives you by “Local Monthly Searches” to get ensure you’re looking at the most exact data possible.
If, for example, you manufacture survival gear and are investigating new product launches or perhaps a website redesign, you could conduct some searches like I”ve outlined in this image. Did you know that food and knives would be the most searched? How would this affect your product strategy? Perhaps you’d want to invest in developing products such as freeze-dried foods, powdered energy drinks and the like? Make a list of the most highly searched, different types of keywords that relate to your business, and then categorize them to understand your potential product categories and website taxonomy.
2. Use Google Trends/Insights to Understand the Market
Google Trends/Insights is an incredibly useful tool for forecasting general trends in consumer interest. This will help you understand if the potential market for your product is growing or declining. That’s rather important to know, don’t you think?
Enter your list of keywords discovered via the AdWords Keyword Tool and look at the graphs for the past decade. Are Google queries for those keywords going up or down? What are the related terms that Google also suggests are highly searched? How do they each trend overtime? Here’s a sample query I did for “survival food.” Other related keywords like “food storage,” and “emergency food” can give you new ideas for your product strategy and product naming conventions. Not only could you create survival foods, but you could create storage products for them as well. The possibilities are endless…although your capital may not be 🙂
3. Conduct Market Audits to Determine Competition
Every good product development strategy includes a market analysis. It’s important to understand who your online competitors are. Go ahead and actually search for your keywords that you’ve chosen and see who ranks (organically) on page 1 of Google. This is who you’re up against…but actually how stiff is the competition? There’s an easy way to find out.
SEOmoz provides a tool called Open Site Explorer which allows you to research the domain authority and link profile of any website. This is perfect for investigating how authoritative your competition is…and eventually, where they’re getting their links from. In a nutshell, Domain Authority is scored by Open Site Explorer using a proprietary calculation including both quantity and quality of inbound links. It’s also on a scale of 1-100, which is much more useful than Google’s outdated PageRank score (scaled from 0-10).
So, once you’ve searched for your keywords in Google like a consumer would, and made note of every domain that ranks on page 1 of Google, type those domains into Open Site Explorer and make note of the various domains’ Authority scores. Which niches are most competitive? Take this into account when planning out your product development, online marketing, optimization, and link building schedule. Why not go after the low-hanging fruit, starting first with the less competitive niches?
Pro Tip: When your products are launched, and live on your website, use Open Site Explorer to investigate the inbound links to your competitors and see if you can get links from the various websites linking to them. While a bit time-consuming, this can be a very effective link building strategy.
Product Research & Development can be much easier and fun with today’s online tools. Using them wisely can provide an effective roadmap for your new product development process. Keep in mind, however, that spending too much time on planning, and not enough on product design and quality, can be just as much of an inhibitor to successful product sales as poor planning.