I have seen how many great ideas fail to become profitable businesses due to a lack of market validation. Many entrepreneurs pour their hearts into building a product, only to discover that it fails to connect with target customers. This can be a devastating experience, and all too often, it leads to entrepreneurs giving up on their ideas altogether.
Why does this happen? There are several reasons why bootstrapped startups fail to become profitable businesses. For me, these are the most relevant:
- Competition is too rough.
- The product doesn’t solve a real problem.
- Things got more expensive than planned.
- Founders don’t get potential users’ intent.
The issue arises when you realize that one of these obstacles is standing in your way, and you have already invested time and money into building your product or service. This can be frustrating and may require significant additional resources to overcome.
In any situation, it is always advisable to validate your ideas before starting to build them. This will help ensure that there is a demand for your product or service and provide valuable insight into the needs and wants of your target audience.
One way to do this is by using search engine optimization (SEO) to understand the search volumes and competition for related terms, analyze intent, and evaluate if you have real value to compete in the market.
This way, you can make better decisions by having a clear background of what your potential customers want, and also increase visibility by optimizing your landings for search engines.
In this guide, we will discuss how to use SEO to validate a business idea and ensure that it has the potential to succeed. We will cover the importance of understanding the demand for your product or service, how to research search volumes and customer intent, and how to analyze the competition to create a product people will want to use.
Let’s get into it!
Step 1: Do Keyword Research
One of the first steps in using SEO to validate your business idea is to research the demand for your idea. This involves looking at the monthly search volume of terms related to your product or service to gauge the level of interest among potential customers.
In addition to using the monthly search volume of related terms to understand the demand, you can also use other data and insights from SEO tools to make more informed decisions.
For example, you can use keyword difficulty scores to see how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword or phrase, and you can use competitor analysis tools to see how your competitors are ranking for those keywords and what strategies they are using.
By combining this data with your understanding of the search volumes of related terms, you can get a complete picture of how people search for related products online, and decide if it’s worth it to build or not.
How to search for keywords related to my business idea?
To research the search volumes of related terms, you can use a variety of SEO tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. These tools allow you to enter a keyword or phrase and see the monthly search volume for that term (and related terms), as well as the competition for that keyword. This information can help you understand the demand for your product or service and identify potential opportunities or gaps in the market.
Here’s how you can come up with ideas and search for relevant terms:
- Start by making a list of terms and questions that are related to your business idea. This list should include both broad and specific terms, as well as questions that your potential customers might ask when looking for information or products related to your business.
- Use SEO tools to search for the keywords and phrases on your list. These tools will provide information on the monthly search volumes for these terms, as well as related keywords and phrases.
- Look for keywords with lots of variations that can help you target a wider range of search queries.
- Always focus on related terms: It is important to focus on keywords and phrases that are directly related to your business idea, as this will help you attract the right kind of traffic to your website.
💡 Do not force terms to fit into your idea, and run away from keyword stuffing when creating the copy for your landing page because it’s considered spam.
Looking for trends
Another advantage of using SEO tools to research the search volumes of related terms is that you can see how these volumes have changed over time. This can help you identify trends and see how the demand for your product or service is evolving.
For example, if you see that the search volumes for your related terms are increasing, this could indicate that there is growing interest in your product or service, and you may want to consider expanding your offering or increasing your marketing efforts.
On the other hand, if you see that the search volumes for your related terms are declining, this could indicate that there is less demand for your product or service, and you may want to consider pivoting your business model or exploring new markets. By understanding these trends, you can make more informed decisions about how to grow your business.
But, what to look for when researching for keywords to validate my idea? Let’s explore an example from our list of micro-SaaS ideas: “Twitter analytics tool” in the next section.
Step 2: Conduct a Competitive Analysis
So, we looked for business ideas and picked the Twitter analytics tool. First, let’s search for that term on Google to see what’s in the search results.
We can see four ads, a featured snippet, and results both from tools lists in blog posts and from the landing pages of the tools themselves. So, at first, we can assume there should be at least some interest in Twitter analytics tools, but let’s see for what terms these pages are ranking.
For this research, I recommend ordering results for positions or for traffic, so you can check from which terms are they getting most of the traffic. Here is what I found:
We can see this particular Twitter tool is ranking for queries related to profile analysis, including statistics for other accounts and follower tracking. This is amazing because we easily went from a generic idea like “twitter analytic tool” to more specific terms such as “twitter profile viewer”.
Actually, if we take a look at the first keywords in the image, we can confirm that people are looking for a tool that shows you some statistics about your Twitter profile and others’. So, to check how our competitors are doing, I searched for the term “twitter profile viewer” convinced that I was going to find a fancy tool with lots of stats. But I found this tool in the first position, which is pretty basic. Here’s what you get:
And then after sending a username:
So, here we can see there’s a lot of room here for improvement, and although the tool is really simple, it drives a decent amount of clicks (according to the data I can access to).
What to look for in competitive analysis?
When conducting competitor analysis, it is important to consider a variety of factors in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape. Some key things to look for include:
- Keywords and phrases: Identify the keywords and phrases that your competitors are ranking for, and compare them to the keywords and phrases you brainstormed. This can help you identify opportunities to differentiate your business by working on the features that your competitors missed.
- Backlinks: This can help you identify websites and influencers that you could reach out to for potential backlinks, and can also provide insights into the link-building strategies that your competitors are using. You can use the SEMrush backlink audit tool to do that.
- On-page optimization: Look at the on-page optimization of your competitors’ websites, including the title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. This can help you identify areas that your competitors are using to optimize their pages for search engines.
- Content: This can help you identify gaps in the market, and can also provide ideas for content that you could create to attract potential users.
By considering these factors and conducting a thorough competitor analysis, you can gain valuable insights that can help you improve your search engine rankings and grow your business.
Step 3: Understand User Intent
User intent refers to the reason behind why a user performs a specific search query on a search engine. In other words, it is the goal that the user has in mind when entering a particular search term. You can study user intent to understand if the user behind that query is looking for information, is ready to buy, or even want to find local places to go physically.
Why does it matter? Because user intent is key to understanding what people expect when searching for a query. It might sound obvious in some scenarios but without a deep comprehension of what people want, you can’t define which minimum features your MVP should have.
For example, a user who searches for “twitter analytic tool” may have the intent of finding information about the number of followers, likes, or RTs. I can verify this idea by taking a look at Google’s related keyword section:
In this particular case, people want to navigate through products and also search for related information about what can you do with Twitter Analytics, so it’s our chance to build something that satisfies the need behind this query. Moreover, we can see there’s a special section in SERPs for free Twitter tools, so it’s a great sign.
How to analyze keyword intent?
When researching your keywords, it’s useful to remember these four possible stages of user intent:
- Topic Ambiguity: When a search term has multiple meanings, making it difficult for search engines to determine a single topic to show in SERPs.
- Fractured Intent: This happens when a search term only has one meaning, but there are many possible reasons for someone to use it.
- Favored Intent: When a search engine has a preference for a certain type of search result for a specific term.
- Explicit Intent: This is when a search term has a clear and specific meaning, making it easy for search engines to understand the user’s intent. (Here’s where we are with “twitter analytic tool”).
And this types of user intent you might encounter on SEO tools:
- Local Intent: When a user’s search query includes a specific location, indicating a desire to find information about businesses or services in that area.
- Navigational Intent: When a user’s search query includes the name of a specific website or brand, indicating a desire to visit that website or learn more about that business.
- Transactional Intent: This is when a user’s search query includes words or phrases indicating a desire to make a purchase or complete a transaction, such as “buy” or “coupon.”
- Informational Intent: This is when a user’s search query includes words or phrases indicating a desire to find information, such as “how to”.
- Commercial: A user’s search query includes words or phrases indicating a desire to learn more before making a purchase decision, such as “compare” or “vs.”
We are not going to go much deep into all of the possibilities of user intent, but you can check out this article about user intent to check out all of the scenarios you might face.
SEO is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs looking to validate their business ideas.
By conducting keyword research and analyzing customer intent and competition, you can gain valuable insights into the potential success of your product or service. Understanding the demand for the products related to your idea is key to can make more informed decisions about which features to include in your minimum viable product (MVP) and whether you have the resources to compete in the market.
Additionally, by optimizing your landings for search engines, you can increase your visibility and attract your first early adopters to test your products.
Overall, using SEO to validate your business idea can help you make better decisions and increase the chances of success for your business.
This article was written by Sofia Terlesky.