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From 0 to MVP: Step 0 – Keywords

Picking Keywords for Fun and for Profit.

By now you probably have a halfway decent notion of some killer product that you think half the planet wants. That’s awesome news! Now let’s find out what percentage of the planet actually wants it. Remember, we haven’t done a single thing yet. No domain purchases, no prototype apps or sites, etc. Let’s get started.

Unless you’re Steve Jobs and think that customers have no clue what they want until you show it to them, we need to go see if anyone wants what you’re offering. Incidentally, if you are actually Jobs, that’s awesome, welcome back! By all means, ditch this post and go bring the world cold fusion or a brain reading earmuff.

One basic premise to determine need is to see if people are actually hitting the search engines and searching for whatever it is you want to build. By searching the engines yourself for related terms, you can try to get an estimate of what people are looking for. Most search companies that sell advertising offer free accounts which you should sign up for, and then use the integrated tools for search analysis.

So, step one is to register for a Google AdWords account (skip the guided setup the second you have the opportunity to, the link may be in a non obvious place) and then using the Tools -> Keyword Planner to get estimated traffic levels, cost to buy ads, and a rough idea of the advertising competition in the space.

Google keyword option

That takes you to:

Google keyword planner

Pick the Get search volume and data trends option to get this screen:

Screen Shot 2015 10 09 at 5 29 37 AM

Let’s say for a moment I want to design the next pair of killer running shoes. Maybe add some blinking lights or integrate GPS into the shoe and allow the stride to keep the system charged. The first things I’d probably want to search for is something to do with running shoes.

Screen Shot 2015 10 09 at 5 33 10 AM

And you’d get data like this:

Screen Shot 2015 10 09 at 5 34 18 AM

Not great but not horrible. When you get around to buying ad traffic it will cost you around $2 per click to draw customers to your landing page. I won’t go into what every column means, but at a glance, you know that about 2400 searches per month are made using those search terms.

Is that enough to make an educated decision about your super wizbang idea? No, not at all. All we’ve determined is that people are looking for keywords related to your topic. Even if the search was sub 100 queries a month I may not necessarily abandon the project. But at this point, we’ve confirmed that people are at least looking for your terms.

If you need more ideas, the last option on the keyword tool allows you to create lists of keyword permutations. When you mix things like this:

Screen Shot 2015 10 09 at 5 40 57 AM

You get results like this:

Screen Shot 2015 10 09 at 5 42 15 AM

Which shoes that no one is searching for the fastest running shoes with an integrated kinetic charger or comfortable running shoes with gps chips in them. Again, not horrible if that’s what you’re trying to build, you’re just going to have to think about how you draw traffic.

So basically, when I start a new project, this is the first thing I do before anything else. I check traffic levels, check advertising costs, check competitiveness, and use that as a very loose indicator marking for ease of customer acquisition. I use a mix of the Google Keyword Planner and a tool called Long Tail Pro. If there’s enough traffic that I think I can get enough clicks and (hopefully) conversions before I run out of my budget then I will probably move onto the next step.

That’s it for this post, thanks for reading.

-Karl

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