Market Research

Before building a website it’s critical to thoroughly research the market you want to go into. With billions of websites out there it’s difficult to succeed in today’s online world. To compete you must find a sweet spot where the competition is beatable, and if you want to make money, you must be sure there is buying intention in your niche as well. These are the two factors that you must analyze before beginning your online business.

Online Transaction

So how do we go about doing this analysis?



You certainly want to know what keywords people are using in the Search Engines as they search for solutions to their problems. You want to find keywords that have enough demand to get free traffic, but also have low enough competition for that keyword to get on the first page of Google. There are several tools out there that can help you find this information. I use something called Market Samurai as my principle tool. It will give me keyword data but also goes beyond that to give me a sense of the commerciality of a given keyword.

But keyword research alone is not enough to succeed.

Note: And depending on any keyword research tool alone, is a big mistake. All research tools rely on historical data and can, at best, give you only a general idea of what has happened in the past. It will get your boat pointed in generally the right direction, but that’s all. You MUST add your own marketing instincts to the analysis.

In order to have a website that makes money, an online business, you must find a niche and a market where people have a problem they are willing to spend money online to solve.

Let me repeat that…

In order to have a website that makes money, you must find a niche and a market where people have a problem they are willing to spend money to solve online.

That all sounds simple enough but it’s often misunderstood when doing keyword research. Just because you’ve found what seems to be good keywords does not mean you’ve found a good market.

To be sure you will make money you must look deeper into those keyphrases and your niche. Unless you can find “buying intention” in that niche you may never make any real money.

And to turn a visitor into a customer, you must have content on your site that moves people through your market’s sales cycle and get them to take action to solve their problem.

This is why you must go beyond keyword research, and do Market Research before you build your website.

Beyond Keyword Research

Online transaction

Putting yourself into the shoes of your potential visitors is very important first step in Market Research. You need to thoroughly understand their problems and what would motivate them to solve that problem. Developing this empathy is critical to becoming a good marketer in whatever niche you choose. I call this understanding the Problem/Solution Profile of your niche.

Ask yourself…

If you were them, how would you go about solving your problem online?

Thinking this through completely will help you visualize the process your target market would go through online to solve their problem.

  • Where would they go to research your problem? Google? Facebook? Forums? Directory websites?
  • What type of websites would motivate them to take action and solve that problem? A well-known brand website? A small-niche website where the owner understands your problem? A site that sells solutions to the problem only (a store)?
  • What types of content would they need to get them to take action? Content explaining my problem? Testimonials? Details about the solution? Videos about the solution?
  • Would they be willing to spend money online to solve this problem? Or would they tend to go offline to a local store to solve the problem?
  • How long would they take to solve the problem? Is it something they would be willing to solve quickly, or do they want to take their time and do a lot of research before they are ready to buy? In other words, how long is the sales cycle?

Market Research Questions

Before you choose a market/niche, you need to be able to answer these questions…

  • What problems are there in my potential niche?
  • What solutions are currently being offered in my potential market?
  • What keyphrases would people use to solve their problem as it relates to my niche? Understanding all areas of their problem will give you a wealth of potential “buying” keywords to work with.
  • How can you connect those phrases to the solutions that your site offers? In other words, what keywords and content will connect their search terms to your site on Google.
  • Is this market something I know, love, and understand? Without becoming an expert in the market, and then doing what it takes to be recognized as an authority, success is doubtful. So can you “walk the walk” in this niche?
  • What is the Sales Cycle for this niche? In other words, what questions will prospects need answered before they are willing to take action to solve their problem?
  • Who is the competition in the market? Are they well-entrenched in the Search Engines and can never be beat? Do they already have authority? Can they be replaced?

Getting Your Market’s Attention

Getting Online Attention

Before you can market to anyone you have to get someone’s attention. In this day of online over-saturation and spam in all areas of advertising, this is not an easy task. The only chance you have to get your markets attention is to truly understand their problems and be able to communicate that understanding to your prospects.

If you can empathize with your potential customers you can begin to “meet them where they are now” in the SEs and Social Media, and make a connection that can move them to your site and your solutions.

When I say “meet them where they are now” I mean that both literally and figuratively.

You want to know what online locations people tend to go to solve their problem… search engines, social media, forums, etc.

And also “what is the conversation going on in their heads” as they try to solve their problem. If you can empathize with that conversation, you can begin to “talk the talk” that will get their attention. You’ll be able to connect with them using the “what’s in for them (WIIFT)” language that will convince them you are someone who might be able to help them.

Why Keywords?

One of the first things you need to know is, what keywords people are using now. Guesswork will not work. You must research exactly which keywords actually ARE being used by real people.

Of course, no research tool can predict the future, so you have to rely on historical data to get a general idea what people have used to search in the past. All research tools rely on historical data. So keep that in mind as you analyze the results of your keyword research. Always take these results with a grain of salt, and use your marketing instincts to judge them.

I use a Market/Keyword Research Tool called Market Samurai. It offers great compatibility with WordPress, the leading site-building tool out there. I also like it becasue it does a great job at helping you find “buying intention.”

Market Samurai Video

I’ve created a video that shows you how Market Samurai and the keyword research process works.


FREE Trial of Market Samurai

If you’d like to test out Market Samurai yourself go to this page. I promise you will be very excited about what you see. And you’ll have 12 days to see if it’s right for you.

Try Market Samurai now for free!

Getting On The First Page

Another critical factor is determining whether you can get on the first page of Google…or NOT. To know that you must analyze your competition and determine whether you can beat them at Search Engine Optimization. If you can’t, you may be climbing a 20,000 foot mountain when you thought you were climbing a 1,000 foot one.

Note: If all the sites on Page 1 have been around for years and have thousands of backlinks and have all the “on-page” SEO factors right, then you will have a very tough time beating them and getting onto Page 1.

And if you can’t get to Page 1 you will have no traffic. That’s the only page that counts. Fewer than 10% of searchers on a keyword ever make it to Page 2.

In fact, according to some studies, the #1 organic position on Page 1 only gets 42% of the clicks on that page. By the time you get to Position 5 you’re down to less than 5% of the clicks. And, as you can imagine, nothing happens on Page 2.

So getting the highest position you can achieve on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) is critical for getting traffic.

And this must be done on a wide range of keywords to get enough traffic to have a real business.

The Market Research Process – Finding Buying Intention

OK how do we go about going beyond just keyword research?

Start by doing a Google search on some of your suspected keywords for your niche. Look for keywords with plenty of Google Ads on the Results page (at least 10). That means someone is actually making money otherwise they wouldn’t be buying the keyword.

Next, use the Google Keyword Tool to see how much that keyword is selling for. If they are selling for $10 or more, then you’ve probably found a very competitive keyword that the experts are already fighting for (or they have high margins to work with). This may be a good thing if you can find good monetization partners, and it may mean Adsense (a way to monetize your website) has a good payout. But it could also be a sign that you are entering a very competitive market and you better know what you are getting in to.

If the keyphrase is selling for less than $2 it may still have good value and is worth continuing your research. Just be sure to check out the monetization partners in the niche closely.

While you’re on Google check to see how many other sites already are using that keyword. Type in the phrase you are researching in quotes (“keyword phrase”). That will bring back “phrase matched” sites that are using the exact phrase on their pages. If there are less that 100,000 sites you may still be in the ball game. But you’ll have to look a little deeper and actually look at the site in more detail.

Researching The Competition

If everything is looking good so far, next you’ll need to research the top 10 sites in the organic listings for that keyword. This is where the hard work begins, but it’s worth it because it could save you hundreds of hours in the long run.

Here’s what you want to know…

  • How long has the site been online? (if over 5 years they will be tough to beat)?
  • How many backlinks do they have? (if they have over 1000 they will be tough to beat)?
  • Do they use the keyword in their domain name?
  • Do they use the keyword in their title tag?
  • Is the keyword in their meta description tag?
  • Is the keyword being used in the first head tag on the page?
  • Are they listed in the Yahoo Directory or the DMOZ directory?
  • What is the Pagerank for the page (over 4 is tough to beat)?

If all 10 sites on the first page of Google are strong in these categories you have a very tall mountain to climb. It could take years (or never) to get on the first page. If you’re looking for “low hanging fruit” then you did not find it.

If on the other hand, if you feel you can beat at least 5 of the sites, you may have found a good niche keyphrase that could get you on Page 1. Congratulations!

Market Research Is Hard Work… Unless

Online purchase

As a beginner solid Market Research is not something you are probably equipped to do. Unless you already have good marketing instincts, understanding how to judge an online market will be a learning process. It will probably take years, and maybe some failures, before you will have the skills required to adequately judge a market.

But don’t despair, no one starts out as an online marketing expert. It’s a skill that’s learned the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. But the sooner you learn these skills, the sooner you will succeed online.

Or more importantly…

Good Market Research will help you avoid going into markets where success is unlikely. This can save you hundreds of hours and much stress in the long run… not to mention money.

And this market research process is still critical for success.

And yes it does take skills that not many people have — including…

  • How to judge a website in terms of design, SEO, credibility, and authority
  • Understand the psychology of why people buy something
  • How to write good marketing content and be able to judge when someone does not
  • You must understand online marketing metrics and how to use tracking tools like Google Analytics

As you can see, doing Market Research takes skills. It also takes time.

But the time it takes is nothing compared to the hundreds of hours you’ll spend building out your site and promoting your site. Once you decide your market is a go, the real work begins. You certainly want to feel your boat is pointed in the right direction at least.

And there certainly are no guarantees for success. Even some of the best market researchers sometimes guess wrong.

And yes it is a guess. There is no tool or process that guarantees success, no matter what people tell you.

But at least if you do your due diligence and do complete Market Research before you go “all in,” you are increasing the odds of success. And It sure helps to feel there’s a pot of gold at the top of that mountain when you are done.

If for no other reason, than to keep you motivated along the way.

Want To Learn About Other Market Research Tools?

My favorite is Market Samurai. Check out their free trial here.

Try Market Samurai now for free!

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