Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 04 - Why is Market Research Dreaded?

You'd think that something so fascinating would have people lining up to start it.

With the right tools, I can stay on the trail of discovery for hours and even days.

But missing adequate tools, it becomes arduous - with results that are sketchy at best.

Before we get into todays' content, let me say that this is based on Section III of The Online Sunshine Plan - which is a hint to review this as part of your studies today. (But just as there is a lot in this section, we are also not going to attempt to cover this subject in a single day's lesson.)

Let's see how we've gotten here:
  • To make extra income online, you have to provide something valuable to exchange with someone else. 
  • You need to promote solutions to people's problems. 
  • And you have to give good content so people can trust your solution and ask for more information (become "leads").
There are 3 myths that I mention in this section of that book:
  1.  "Markets are impersonal." Truth is that they are very personal and the more interaction you have with your prospective buyers, the better will be your sales and income.
  2. "Customers and Consumers." There are no customers (literally means people of habit) or consumers (people who use things up.) There are really only clients - people who you service for as long as they need your help.
  3. "Competition." Also doesn't exist in actuality. There are levels of creativity - and if you don't have enough income, you can become more creative in finding valuable solutions to offer. Nature is abundant. Only people create "competitors" so they can have a game to play, figuring that they need opponents.
I continue (pg 117 by now) to logically define marketing as an extension of the Golden Rule. The subject is summarized by the statement that you have to give in order to receive.

So what, then, is marketing research

A nutshell definition: Finding who has problems and how they talk about it so you can provide solutions in a way they can easily understand.

In that statement, you see that we are working to find out:
Who are the potential buyers.
What they are looking for.
What phrases they used to describe it.
Where they are using these phrases to find it.
Those phrases are known as "keyword phrases" or "keywords".  They define what people are looking for. 

Now, how to find these keyword phrases has free tools and paid tools. And the ones I recommend in the book aren't (now) the ones I use. KeywordResearchPro quit working when they had a major Google Algorithm change. RankTracker has an annual payment (plus add-on's which also cost you), and is mostly good for tracking your site ranking. Otherwise, the tools they offer are based on older Internet traffic theories, which have either changed or been superceded in the last 2 years.

(I favor buying a tool once, and ensuring that the company who offers it supports continued development. Continuing subscriptions need to be really worth it. (Other than my Internet provider and site hosting, I have just one service I pay for. Food, clothing, and housing and cel phone are different - we're talking about our online business activities...)

Free tools to find keywords. 

Mostly, these come from Google. Almost everything else online either uses Google as a backend, or has been bought up and now doesn't work. Not that Google has a monopoly, but rather that they are far more effective.

1st Google tool: Adwords Keyword Tool
(Go ahead and open that up in another window so you can look at it. ) This was designed around people looking for keywords to use in their advertising. But it's far more versatile than that. Enter a search term and you'll see lots of columns of data. And you can export these to a spreadsheet (CSV) and play around with the data offline.

Key columns to notice: 
Global Monthly Searches - how many searches are done for a given term. Doesn't mean people - it means how many times this phrase is looked for. If there aren't very many, then it's probably not an easy phrase to earn income with.
Approximate CPC - tells whether other people consider it worth running an ad for. If you have .05 or less, it's basically not. (You can set the filters at the top and eliminate those where no one is running ads for them.) If people are paying money to run ads, they figure that they can get that money back with sales. Means you can make income here.
Local Search Trends - shows whether its a fad, has seasonal issues, or is a regularly searched phrase. Lack of any trends usually means the volume of searches is too low to register.

The next free tool you'll need is to simply look up those top words in Google search. Unfortunately, this is a one-by-one approach. The good part of this is that you can find out who the top-linked sites are. Plug all this data into a spreadsheet and you'll have a lot of your market research right there.

What you want to find out is what Google says are how many sites exist with that keyword phrase in them - in some type or kind of combination. Remember that while others refer to this as "competition", you can also use this number to see the probability of how many sites are actually search engine optimized. (Rough rule of thumb - less than 1%. So just knock off 2 zero's to start with.)

However, it gets even wilder - those Charles Heflin links I gave you in the book (page  128) will show you how you are really only having to be interested in the first 2 or 3 pages, since the rest aren't even using your exact phrase.

Meaning that if you optimize your page well, you will pretty easily rank at the top for that phrase (well, we have some additional tools - both free and paid - which can cement your top standings.)

The thing to worry about is the SEO'd pages. And in the book, I have you Web1Marketing had a tool to check "all in title", "all in anchor" and "exact phrase", which would give you a good indicator if those pages were optimized. Unfortunately, this page now produces no results for Google. (Meaning the algorithm was changed - or that page was blocked by Google.) But you can do these searches on your own. Check out Google Guide (http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators.html) and find the operators you can prefix your searches with.

You can string these operators together with "AND" in between, but be warned that Google will shut you down after just a few searches like this. (Spammers have been there, done that ahead of you.)

All told, it's possible to do this for free, but time consuming and frustrating. You may need to wait hours between a few searches (and I have, many times.)

A word on Wordtracker. Their free tool isn't worth it, and their paid tool costs too much for what you get from it - because it is again, a subscription. IMHO. Tried it, didn't get the results I needed.

Paid Tools. 

And I finally found a replacement. (Told you I was doing this for hours and days at a time...) It's a one-time purchase and they keep improving it. It's called Market Samurai. (And it has a free intro version you can try out...) They've signed up for various professional-level/corporate API's to keep their tool running. Those API's are prohibitive for an individual or small start-up.

They have substantial pages on Keyword Research, which I recommend to you as part of the homework assignment today. Because they explain things with videos and also provide a transcript - doing this so well, that it's ridiculous for me to try to reinvent this wheel. (And did I say their training is free?!?)

Even though they discuss their tool through out, the simple points they present are very basic.

Introduction to Keyword Research
The Golden Rules of finding remunerative keywords

Now, skip to the next lesson we need - which concerns how to find pages which are already SEO'd and which are ranking for some reason with no real SEO (yes, these do exist - and I'll mention some probable reasons in later lessons)

Discovering SEO'd pages existing for your keyword

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And that's more than enough for today. This will get you started on the basics. We have some more work to do on our keywords, and our market research. But that's another day.

Do let me know what comments and questions you have. Either post them below, or send me an email.

Today's freebie: A Millionaire's Secret

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Coming up tomorrow is more about how to discover who needs your help and how to help them find your solution...