So you are not planning on selling anything, do you really need to worry about market research and what does that look like for an online business?
Don't kid yourself, even if you are not planning on selling any products you are still selling yourself and your knowledge on your topic. Even with an online business that does not focus on product sales (either physical or digital) you still need to know who is in the market for what you have to offer.
That means you need to do some research on your site concept to make sure that there are enough people out there searching for what you plan to offer to make your online business viable. Most of the information you will need to find to assess the market, your target customers and your competitors is available by doing some in-depth keyword research.
And there are several methods you can use to do that research. Some are free and others are paid, and as is usually the case, you will get what you pay for in terms of quality and quantity!
So What Are Keywords and What Do You Do With Them?
A keyword is a word or concept of great significance, the key topic or subject of a web page. The keywords you choose for each page on your site and the way you use them in the head section and throughout the text will signal Google and the other search engines as to what your page and your site is all about.
That is especially important if you are planning to capture free organic traffic from the search engines.
Keyword research will tell you how many people type that word or phrase into a search engine over a predetermined period of time. If a phrase is searched for thousands of times in a month it is a topic with considerable interest, if it only gets a handful of searches, it is probably not going to be a viable option for a site or a page unless you core topic has other keywords that do generate significant searches.
Choosing Keywords the Right Way
Not all of the keywords that have a high number of searches make a lot of sense. Think about it, when you are looking for something online and you use a search engine (Google, Bing etc.) do you always type in a complete phrase or sentence. Probably, if you just type in one word, you are going to get hundreds or thousands of sites in the results and not many of them will tell you what you want to know.
So you type in that one word and add a few descriptors to narrow the search field. Like "online business australia guide" if you are looking for a site that tells you how to build an online business in Australia. The more you add to the search box the smaller the number of results will be. But even for "online business australia guide" Google Australia can still come up with 232,000,000 results - not many of which are relevant though to our query though.
Bear in mind that when you choose your keyword, you will be using it verbatim in the head, header, at least one sub-header, within the first 90 words on the page and you will sprinkle it throughout the content on the page. So you will want a keyword (or phrase - most have more than one word) that you can easily weave into the content on your page. Try fitting "online business australia guide" into a sentence.
So to find good keywords you need to first find some keywords for your topic (your site concept keyword - for this site mine is online home business), you need to know something about how many people are searching for it, how many other sites you are competing against and whether or not the people who are searching for that keyword are prepared to spend any money on goods and services related to that topic.
Even if you are not selling anything yourself, you still need to know whether your potential visitors are likely to click on affiliate links and buy stuff, or click on adsense adverts because they are interested in buying other related stuff. To find out about all of this you will need to use one or more keyword tools. Please don't try to pick your keywords on your own, just because you think they are reasonable choices does not mean that anyone else will and we are talking about a business here.
Would you make any other crucial business decision without at least considering what the research or the experts are telling you?
No you wouldn't, so don't do it now, because if you go ahead without doing the research you will be shooting yourself in the foot and your business is unlikely to get off the ground.
Keyword Research Tools
The keyword research tool I use almost exclusively is Brainstorm It! which is a keyword research tool that is included in both of the products on offer from Solo Build It!
This tool uses data drawn from WordTracker and the proprietary data from Solo Build Its own database of thousands of SBI sites, to present search data for each keyword you choose to research. You get data on the frequency of searches, the number of sites that you would be competing against for that particular keyword and a measure of the profit potential. You can also click through to a list of the top ten sites for that keyword so that you can check out the competition.
This tool is available with the full Solo Build It subscription and with Solo Build It for Wordpress, and believe me even if you paid for the full version and only ever ever used this module, you would still get your moneys worth. As I have a full subcription with Solo Build It, I get access to Solo Build It for WordPress at no extra charge, and believe me I use it to full advantage. Even if I went completely nuts and cancelled the full subscriptions (I have two at the moment) I would still want Solo Build It for Wordpress and would gladly pay for access to it.
I also make regular use of the Keyword Planner Tools within Google Adwords. You will have to create an account to use it, but it won't cost you anything unless you decide to buy some Adwords adverts for your site.
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