Want to know what your customers are searching for on Google? Understanding the way people use search engines can give you valuable insights into your customers and your market.
The way consumers are accessing information is changing. Web search is so embedded in the daily lives of people around the world that it has become a barometer of what’s on our minds; not just what we’re excited by or gossiping about but what’s bothering us, as well as how we’re spending our free time and extra money. This means that business owners and marketing experts have tremendous insight into their customers’ thoughts at their fingertips.
At any given moment, we have the tools on hand to find answers to our questions. Do you know how your customers are searching for information? If you’re trying to attract customers to your mid-year hardware sale, would you promote ‘discount tools’ or ‘cheap tools’? Google Insights for Search is an online tool that tells us Australians search more for ‘cheap’ items than they do for ‘discount’ items. Let’s look at how one small business owner uses this tool to help reach her customers online.
Penny Parsons, joint CEO of online holiday accommodation site takeabreak.com.au, knows how important it is to stay ahead of the competition. The family-owned business is competing online with the big players so Penny has an AdWords search marketing campaign which she manages with the assistance of Google. AdWords are paid-for text link ads that appear above or beside the organic search results.
She has used Google Insights for Search extensively to help her identify and take advantage of growing consumer trends and capitalise on takeabreak’s competitive difference. For example, online searches for ‘pet friendly accommodation’ are on the rise and Parsons knows her competitors can’t offer this service so she is bidding more on that search term to take advantage of the increased interest. Another interesting observation is that the misspelling of accommodation (with one ‘m’) is common, so she includes the incorrect spelling in her AdWords search marketing campaign search terms.
Seasonality plays a big role in the travel industry. Many people think Easter holiday bookings are last minute but Insights for Search shows that people start looking for Easter accommodation straight after Christmas, which means Parsons plans her Easter promotions well before March.
She says: “We use Insights for Search all the time. It’s a crystal ball that allows you to look at your industry and focus your marketing activity. This allows us to be really responsive to trends and make sure that our communications and offers are relevant to our customers.”
According to Roy Morgan research, more than 11.9 million Australians use Google each month. The internet gets more traffic than any pavement in the country. But do you know if search engine queries in your industry are growing or shrinking, or if your sector experiences seasonal spikes? You can learn a lot about your customer and your sector by looking at what people are searching for the most.
So, how can Google Insights for Search help you improve your marketing strategy? With it, you can see consumer search engine queries from a specific period and within a particular industry, illustrated in a graph that plots the volume of online searches. On the same screen, you will be able to identify spikes in the searches, the top related searches and the growing related searches. An example of a related search is ‘chicken recipes’ when you search for ‘recipes’. You’ll also be able to see which states are more likely to conduct a particular search.
Entering new markets
If you’re starting a business, Insights for Search can help in the research phase. Many start-ups don’t have huge budgets for research so this is one way to begin.
Let’s look at an example. You might be thinking about opening a chocolate shop in Melbourne. What will you specialise in? Who are your competitors? What is the best time of the year to open the business? How popular is chocolate in Victoria? A search for the past 12 months shows that:
- The top searches include references to recipes
- The most common type of chocolate searched for is white chocolate
- The searches for chocolate peaked leading up to Christmas and Easter
- Victorians generally search more for “chocolate” than they do for “diet”, except after Christmas.
So what can you learn from this? The references to recipes may be in response to the hugely popular television show Masterchef, which is a social trend driving an interest in cooking. You might decide to run cooking with chocolate workshops if this is still a trend when you open your doors. White chocolate is a hot ticket search term so you might consider offering it as a specialty, or at least highlighting it in your marketing campaign. Peak times for searches are an indication of consumer demand so you would want to be established by Christmas or Easter to take advantage of heightened consumer activity. Searches have been building since April 2009, an indicator that chocolate is on people’s minds during tough economic times. Running global searches also gives you a taste of international trends that could be making their way to Australia.