Using Search Data for Better Market Insights
It’s easy to dismiss the data that’s gathered by your search engine optimization (SEO) team as having little value outside of developing your search strategy. However, search data can provide a treasure trove of insights to help retailers understand their market.
During the height of the pandemic restrictions, for example, search behavior revealed a spike in Google queries for jigsaw puzzles, suggesting that families were looking for interesting ways to spend their time while sheltering at home. Drilling deeper into the data revealed that search interest around puzzles for adults was actually higher than puzzles for kids — and queries for 2,000-word puzzles was even higher than 1,000-word puzzles.
For toys and games retailers, insights such as these deliver important clues that can be harnessed to fine-tune their production, inventory and marketing strategies. In fact, Google processes around 3.5 billion searches a day, providing a huge, scalable research dataset that's relatively easy to access and less expensive than other market research methods such as surveys and focus groups. Furthermore, search data is always up-to-date, as you don’t have to wait for market researchers to publish their reports.
Understanding your market often starts with identifying your customers. In search, your SEO teams do that through the keywords and searches people make. By aggregating the metrics around this and the resulting search results, you can extract a variety of insights and learnings to underpin business decisions.
Assessing Potential Market Size
In many industry sectors, more than 60 percent of purchases happen after an online search. Therefore, search is an important precursor to purchasing activity. By analyzing the search volumes for all the different keyword queries that people use for products or services in your industry, you can get a good indication of total market size.
How is this helpful? If you’re launching a new product or expanding into a new region or country, search data can be a reliable proxy for the potential demand. Is it growing or falling?
Tracking Shifting Customer Purchase Behavior
Search data can unearth shifts in purchase behavior, sometimes revealing untapped opportunities. For example, sports brands have typically prioritized marketing for ski clothing in Q4 to reflect traditional seasonal purchasing patterns. But data reveals that searches for these products now often continue strongly into Q1, highlighting opportunities for selling more over a longer period by continuing to hold inventory and extending marketing schedules.
In the same way, search activity and interest in the run-up to a major launch, such as the introduction of a new iPhone, can help retailers assess the likely spike in demand even before the product hits shelves.
Better Understanding Competitor Market Share
Analyzing search results can help you get a measure of your competitors. After all, rankings are a reflection of what consumers are looking for. If I google “sneakers” and see a brand I really like, I’ll click on it. If lots of other people do the same, that brand will likely climb up the rankings. Therefore, rankings are a good indicator of who your main competitors are and which ones consumers are most drawn to.
Market share data is often the hardest to get because few companies will share their sales numbers openly. Search expertise can add value here because it’s possible to combine data on rankings and search volumes to calculate your competitors’ share of search traffic — a good estimate of their market share.
Informing Media Strategies
Search results don’t just help you analyze your direct competitors, but also other sites that rank highly for the same topics. For example, by revealing which media sites, blogs and influencers rank highly for content related to your products, search can provide valuable insights for PR, advertising and influencer marketing campaigns. Similarly, if the data shows Google tends to rank video content highly in searches, it’s a clue that your content marketing might need to shift from text-based material to more video.
Search data gives you a real-time window into how consumers are behaving online, providing an in-depth picture that can help you transform your marketing strategy and drive greater sales.
Lisann Kohnke is director of software engineering at Searchmetrics, where she and her team work on leveraging the potential of search engine data for decision-making processes besides online marketing.
Lisann Kohnke is Director Software Engineering at Searchmetrics where she and her team work on leveraging the potential of search engine data for decision-making processes besides online marketing. Her background in automating analytics processes enables her to support clients in integrating data in a flexible and cost-effective way.