Episode Overview: Gaining market insight requires taking a lens to your dense search data, but knowing what to look for isn’t always clear. Join host Ben as he kicks off Market Insights Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton to discuss what search data is relevant to mining market insights.
- The key to understanding market demand for a given group of keywords or products is to determine people’s overall interest in a particular product.
- Take a keyword data set to find related terms within a given category and cluster them to identify what the given demand is on a particular day or identify trends.
- Combining a search volume dataset with ranking data and how Google interprets the intent of those keywords provides insight on how to compete within given market groups or categories.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
- Tyson Stockton: Website // LinkedIn
- The Voices of Search Podcast: Email // LinkedIn // Twitter
- Benjamin Shapiro: Website // LinkedIn // Twitter
Ben: Welcome to Market Insights Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. And this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, covering how you can use search data to impact your business, outside of SEO. Joining us for Market Insights Week is Tyson Stockton, who is the vice president of client services at Searchmetrics. Tyson manages Searchmetrics SEO content and client success organizations. And outside of shepherding their largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, he’s joining us today to talk about what search data is relevant for mining market insights.
Ben: Okay. Here is the first installment of Market Insights Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ vice president of client services. Tyson, welcome to Market Insights Week on the Voices of Search podcast.
Tyson: Thank you, Ben, look forward to diving into this topic.
Ben: So Tyson, you’re one of my go-to SEOs. Jordan has graduated from an operator to a strategist. You’re the guy who I talk to the most about the blocking and tackling of getting Google to get your website noticed. We’re going to throw all that stuff out the window this week. Talk to me about some of the ways that you think about using search data to gain insights about the other parts of your business. When you think about market insights and search data, what comes to your mind?
Tyson: Yeah, and I think historically, search data has been looked at as a very tactical lens of where do we need to compete on these given keywords, and it’s lived within the SEO and PPC community, but it hasn’t really infiltrated across an organization. And obviously working very closely with search data, you see the power and the capabilities that it has. And really, you’re using it as a window into your consumers. And by understanding how people are searching, how they’re querying, how the search demand’s evolving on different terms, you’re understanding really valuable insights into an industry that may be more immediate, and also a lot of times, a lot cheaper than some of the traditional mediums and ways to get about that general market research that we have at our fingertips as SEOs.
Ben: I think as a digital marketer, more broadly than an SEO, a lot of what I think about is understanding consumer intent, understanding the why behind someone making an action, and figuring out how you can influence that with your products and services. Search data is really valuable in terms of understanding the mindset of the consumer, if you understand how to use it. Talk to me about some of the data sets that you think about that make great signals to understand the mindset of the consumer and the competitive landscape.
Tyson: Yeah. And I think just within search data, you have a few different buckets. And I’d say the first and most obvious one is understanding of market demand for a given group of keywords or a category of products. And so by understanding how many people are searching or seeking that information, it’s a great proxy into the overall interest into that product.
Ben: Okay. So we have demand, understanding the volume of interest in your products or services or the class that you’re doing your research on. So outside of understanding the total market size, what are some of the other data sets that you think about that are relevant?
Tyson: Yeah. And so you have on one hand, how many people are searching what and within which category, but then you also have a little bit of how Google’s serving up that content, in terms of who’s winning, who owns what of the market, what competitors are doing, who owns what within that category. And then also understanding how is Google interpreting that intent? What does that tell me about that category or that group of keywords that we’re looking at?
Ben: Yeah, so I think that there’s two important things to think about there. One, you can use your keyword data, and that’s valuable in itself, but two, using Google’s interaction and interpretation of a given keyword is something that’s also a good signal. Google does tons of consumer research and obviously has more data than pretty much anybody. And so understanding the experience that they’re presenting to the users is incredibly valuable in understanding intent, understanding, demand functionality. What are some of the other data sets that you think are relevant, outside of figuring out demand and understanding intent?
Tyson: Yeah. And well, I’d say a little bit of the approach that we’re taking with defining a market from that is first, we’re using our search metrics, research cloud data in the sense of we have this keyword set of a billion keywords across it. And then by querying through that and finding all the related terms within a given category, we’re able to define what the overarching demand is. And I think that is a key differentiating piece because a lot of times, people will look at individual keywords and use that as a proxy for it, but you’re ignoring all the different variants and clusters to it. So one thing that we do is, we’ll look at clustering all the keywords within a given category, like running shoes or running apparel, whatever it is in that sense. And then we’re able to say, okay, what is the given demand today? And then we’re also able to say, what is the trends of this? How has this evolved over the last five years?
Tyson: And an example, we could get into things like skiing versus snowboarding and how, although at one time snowboarding had a higher demand in skiing in the US, skiing has been growing at a faster rate. So it’s actually surpassed it and is on this trajectory that’s growing a lot quicker than snowboarding.
Tyson: The other thing that we’re able to do is, with our set … So if you’re just using something like a keyword planner that provides search volume data on a list of keywords or an individual keyword, one, you’re not getting that cluster, but then also, what you’re not getting is how that’s evolved over time, and then also who owns what within that. So by combining the search demand aspect or that dataset with also our ranking data of who owns what within that. And then a third piece of also how Google is interpreting that, the intent of those keywords, what SERP integrations are present, is another window into how Google is interpreting it, by saying, okay, video elements are more relevant to this, or FAQ content is more relevant to this. And that gives you a little bit of a clue also in how to compete within those given groups or those given categories of a market.
Ben: So you raise a lot of good points, in the sense that you’re able to use search data, to not only understand your consumers but understand the demand. And you’re using your keywords and using Google SERP experience to try to figure out what your consumers are thinking and how to market to them.
Ben: I think there’s also a larger trend that you’re getting to, where you’re looking at historical data, and you’re clustering keyword groups together to look at macro trends. When you’re doing some industry analysis, skiing versus snowboarding, that’s your example of understanding what’s happening across the greater landscape in trends. There’s also the idea of understanding what’s happening within your industry, who are the competitors that you need to work with, who is taking up market share. Talk to me a little bit about how you think of competitive analysis and what data sets are you looking at to understand where you sit in the pecking order of your industry?
Tyson: Yeah, as far as the first point on data set, largely looking at our research cloud data, just because of the broad nature of it. And sure, you could be into a project and a given group and apply the same logic, but I think whenever you’re embarking in a new area or looking for the most macro lens, using that broad data set is going to be the most valuable. So then once we have that piece, the next one is we want to look at who’s ranking on what terms, and then applying things like our SEO visibility, our market share, so then we can understand, given respect to the search demand, as well as the position, to understand kind of who owns what of that market.
Tyson: But this is a great way to, one, identify maybe competitors that you didn’t think of as much. So if you take a category within eCommerce, the obvious ones are going to be your Amazons, eBays, Walmarts, Home Depot, et cetera. But then you’re also going to have an array of informational queries relevant to that category, that you might have more informational blogs, news sites that are ranking for that. So you get a little bit of a mix, and it depends where you are in the buying cycle, as far as is it more of an informational intent? Is it more of a transactional intent? And by understanding which domains own those different parts and those different keyword clusters, you’re able to kind of break down what key elements you need to compete and succeed in that segment.
Ben: So I think the big takeaway here is that there’s a variety of ways that you can use search data that we’re all thinking about, how do I just get my content to rank, to have value for your business outside of the traditional SEO metrics. You’re able to think about how much demand there is for your product, what are the historical trends, understanding where you fit in the competitive landscape? And also, you’re able to understand your consumer. Tyson, as you think about the people that should be using search data to improve their business performance, what are the types of businesses, or who are the people in those businesses that should be using search data that are not?
Tyson: Yeah. And I guess to start that, I think this data can actually be used at all levels within an organization, because it’s such, like I said earlier, it’s such a window into the mind of the consumer of how they’re interacting, how they’re digesting information, how they’re seeking out that information. And the most common is always on the hands on grassroots kind of level. So those are probably the teams that are already working on it, but I think this is something that can go all the way up to the C-level group. How you’re using that data is what changes at the different levels. So on a more tactical level, you might be looking at it in the sense of, “Okay, what content recommendations do I need within this specific topic for this individual URL?” Or, “How much opportunity do I have, so I can use it as a forecast for my SEO roadmap?” But then when you get some more of the C-level and the leadership group, they can use this data, I would say, just as valuable as that more hands on level. It’s just the how and the application changes.
Tyson: So it’s more of looking into that outward and upward viewpoint. So you’re thinking, okay, if I’m putting together more of a strategic plan for the next five years, how do I look at the historical trends, see where the market’s going, and then place my bets of where I want to compete as a business, but then also in a sense of you could use it outside of search. So say you’re a brick and mortar retail store that also has an online store, by understanding the seasonality of how people are searching for different categories, it could influence how you want to have your merchandise on the floor. So if you see that, they, I’ve been removing my merchandise too early for that given season, but actually the search demand carries on into the following quarter, it can give you a great line of sight of, hey, as a regional store manager, maybe I should actually keep this category or this group of products on the store for a longer period of time, because I know that people are still seeking that.
Ben: So I think it’s worth talking to our audience in two separate passages. So everybody stick with me. For the SEO operators listening to this podcast, for the rest of the week, what we’re going to talk about are ways that you can provide value to your executive team, taking advantage of the data that you’re looking at on a daily basis. For the operators boss, for the CMOs, listening to this podcast who are trying to understand and learn search, we’re going to talk to you about some of the different ways that you can use your search data to better understand the macro picture of what’s happening in your business and in your industry. We’re going to uncover a couple of different topics about understanding demand, finding historical trends, how to outperform your competitor, and how to understand your consumer’s intent for the rest of the week.
Ben: So, that wraps up this episode of the voices of search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, vice president of client services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, where his handle is Tyson_Stockton, or you could visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com.
Ben: Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to the voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is voices of search on Twitter, and my personal handle is Ben J Shap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and check back with us tomorrow morning, when we talk about how you can understand demand using search volume. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.