Even a little market research helps your business. Knowing what your customers and potential customers are thinking helps you adjust your messaging, come up new ideas for products and services plus find new markets. This should lead to more revenue and growth.
Even if you use external marketing companies, it’s useful to be aware of some of the free tools and services available from Google that help you understand your audience better. That helps you confirm if what someone is telling you is true or explore new areas without committing too much resource too soon. We all have gut instincts about new ideas but market research using free Google tools will help introduce a little evidence to back up your ideas.
Here’s a lists of our favourite tools and services.
Keyword search on Google
The simplest and quickest way of testing keywords and what people are thinking is simply typing a search into Google and note what comes up in the autocomplete.
Also note how many results were shown and scroll down the bottom for the searches related to links.
These are suggestions that Google makes based on what people have typed into the search engine that may be related to your keyword. Depending on how you interpret results valuable information can be gleaned just from alternative suggestions.
This is quick and easy and requires very little skill. The other tool for checking keywords is the Google keyword planner.
Google Keyword planner
The Google keyword planner has undergone numerous changes over the years, but is now bundled with the Google AdWords and you need a Google account to use it.
It does provide some excellent information on search volumes for keywords, competition and other trends that will help you adjust your website content as well as its primary purpose of planning Google AdWords campaigns. We’ll do an up to date how to blog post soon, but in the meantime you can access the keyword planner at this link.
There are commercial tools beyond the scope of this blog posting.
Google Surveys is an online survey tool. It’s not free, but the pricing model is based on the number of completed responses (see https://support.google.com/360suite/surveys/answer/2447244 for more information) so is relatively good value and controllable.
The surveys are sent by two panels of respondents:
(1) internet users reading content on a network of web publisher sites using Google Opinion Rewards for Publishers, and
(2) Smartphone users who have downloaded and signed up to use an Android app called Google Opinion Rewards.
There is an element of self-selection as people only answer questions if they choose but there is no doubt that SMEs and larger brands have used the product successfully.
Get more information here: Google Surveys
Google Trends lets you search on highly specialist or broad keywords and view the trends of search volumes over time. The numbers aren’t absolute volumes, just an indication on a 100 scale of the popularity of a keywords and the trend over time.
The results show related topics, interest by region and related queries.
Get more information here: Google Trends
Google Shopping Insights
Currently only in Beta and showing data from the US, but this lets you explore the popularity of products across the US. It shows how they trend over time, compare regional preference and see how people are using mobile and desktop devices to shop:
- Measure consumer interest on products at a national, regional, and city level
- Compare demand across geographies, time, and device context
- Get ideas for local promotions, and investments between mobile and desktop
Their mission is help Google advertising customers make more informed decisions about their marketing through data and insights that Google can provide. Recent enhancements include a graphic showcasing the split between desktop and mobile searches, the ability to explore trending products for previous months and a streamlined date picker.
We very much hope Google widens this product to the UK and Europe very soon.
Get more information here: Google Shopping Insights
Google Correlate is a tool on Google Trends which enables you to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can either be a real-world trend that you provide (e.g., a data set of event counts over time) or a query that you enter.
It uses web search activity data to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The results can be viewed on the Google Correlate website or downloaded as a CSV file for further analysis.
Google Correlate contains web search activity data from January 2003 to present. This data is updated weekly.
This is a specialist tool and you need to be prepared to spend some time learning the ins-and outs of learning how to input data and what can be generated.
See a tutorial here: https://www.google.com/trends/correlate/tutorial
Visit the main website here: Google Correlate
Other Google planning tools
There are other tools including Test my site – https://testmysite.withgoogle.com/intl/en-gb – which gives feedback on site speed, compatibility with mobile devices etc.
See also Consumer Barometer – https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/ and Display Benchmarks – http://www.richmediagallery.com/tools/benchmarks to test your Google AdWords ads against other advertisers.
More information here: Google Planning Tools
Once you have assembled this data then you still have to devote some time to interpreting the data and what changes you can make to your products, services and messaging to boost your business. Market research using Google tools is something you can do for free (other than your time) or relatively cheaply.
We will cover using Google Analytics and Google Search console to discover more about your website visitors in a future blog post. See our earlier blog posts on using Google Analytics for the busiest times on your website and Understand Google Analytics in 30 minutes.
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