Early stage market validation for startups – using search query data

Keyword Research For Market Validation

Early-stage startups often struggle with the idea validation phase. Even if you have a great product in mind, how do you make sure that your potential customers actually need it, and will pay for it? That’s why devising the right market research framework is a necessary first step in building the best marketing strategy for your startup.

What is market research?

Market research refers to validating initial assumptions about a product or feature based on your target audience’s feedback. Previously, market research was completed by showcasing the product to a number of people and amassing customer feedback to further improve it. However, in recent days, it’s easier to obtain market validation through data-driven processes, moving past the “room filled with potential customers” concept.

Why is market research important?

An idea can sound great, and often founders get caught up in “founder bias” — basing their future success on self-affirmed beliefs. But that is not always the case, as a great idea coupled with poor execution can lead to an unprofitable business and result in a huge time sink. That’s why it’s highly important to dedicate the right amount of time and resources to the market validation phase.

How keyword research in SEO can help with idea validation

One of the more commonly used processes in SEO is keyword research, which refers to using Google’s own “Keyword Planner” tool, or external third-party tools (such as SEMRush or Ahrefs) to obtain the volume of different search queries that potential customers use. Utilizing these tools can help shorten the process of gauging demand, as well as establish the right framework for a solid marketing strategy.

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Let’s start with some practical steps on conducting keyword research. 

  1. Devise a list of keywords that describe your product or a specific feature that you’re looking to implement.

TIP: Keywords can either be short phrases or long-tail keywords such as a whole sentence. You can start by utilizing a list of “seed keywords”, then expanding the list with generic terms that might relate to the specific intent of your target audience. Read the full list of types of keywords to determine how to build an efficient keyword strategy.

  1. Utilize keyword research tools to expand your list

We mentioned above the top 3 choices for keyword research, so let’s take a deeper look at how each one of these tools work and why they’re a must have for devising a proper SEO strategy.

  1. Google Keyword Planner

The most mainstream keyword research tool that utilizes Google’s own internal data to display search volume information and provide suggestions that are similar to your list of keywords. It’s usually highly recommended because it’s free, easy-to-use and more reliable than third-party tools. 

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On the left side is the keyword suggestions tool, which provides an easy way to expand your existing list with related choices from Google’s internal database. On the right side, you can analyze your current list to obtain accurate data regarding the search volume for each term/phrase.

  1. SEMRush

Another favorite of SEO professionals, SEMRush is probably one of the best keyword research tools out there. There are several features that make the tool a must-have for professionals, such as data accuracy, reliable suggestions and detailed statistics. 

Let’s take a look at the keyword overview example below:

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On the left side, we have the search volume for our target country (US), the keyword difficulty (as estimated by SEMRush internal database). Center-left column is the Global Volume for this keyword throughout different geographic areas. Center-right contains a generalized overview of the number of SERP results for this term, as well as Search Features (rich snippets), which are specialized search result sections that show up when targeting this specific keyword.

The next section details 3 columns of suggestions for expanding your current keyword list. Please note that search volume and keyword difficulty % are only estimates and might not paint an accurate picture.

  1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another one of the most highly suggested keyword research tools on the market, in part because of its internal database accuracy as well as multiple features (though at first glance the dashboard can look quite difficult to get used to). From personal experience, the Ahrefs keyword suggestions database comes secondary to SEMRush, but it obviously depends on a case-by-case basis.

Some other notable mentions of keyword research tools that you can utilize to expand your list are:

  1. Soovle

Soovle pulls keyword suggestions from several databases, such as Google, Amazon, Bing, Youtube and Wikipedia. This helps to create a better in-depth picture for a specific keyword and how it’s utilized throughout multiple platforms by your target audience.

  1. KWFinder

Another personal favorite here at Outrank.Website, this tool enables you to instantly uncover related keywords, often showing highly lucrative low difficulty ones that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Interested in learning more about SEO and how it can help your startup achieve more visibility from search results? Read up on our detailed guide 5 Key SEO Tips For Startups To Increase Search Visibility.

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