Step 2 - Researching Your Online Business Options

Before you spend any money on a new business, you need to research the marketplace to make sure there will be buyers for it, at the price at which you can make a profit.

  • Will your product, service, blog or information be in demand?
  • Who else is already doing it?
  • Do you have a competitive advantage over them?

These are the questions you need to ask early in the process.  Now let's look at how to answer them.

Develop a List of Keywords, Buzzwords, Search terms and Phrases that are used in your niche

Before you do anything, you first need to be able to describe your web business in simple phrases and keywords.  Put another way, if you were to go to Google and look for a website like the one you want to build, what would you enter?

Instead of believing that most people think the way you do (definitely unlikely), just go to the following tools, enter some keywords, and see what are popular words and phrases associated with the terms you are using:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool: This free tool is intended to help Google advertisers know what terms to target but you can use it to see which terms our popular.

Search for and Examine Competitor's Websites

Now that you have a list of good, relevant, popular keywords, it is time to search and view the competition.  Search in Google for some of the phases from above and look at websites that look as close to what you want to build.

Look at competitor's and potential competitor's websites, if there are any, and see what they're doing and how they are doing it. Can you compete with them?  What will differentiate your website, make it better, unique, or otherwise add value?  Maybe you will have better pricing (not very common).  Perhaps, you have a unique product or service. Or maybe you plan to build a website that is easier to use and understand.

What's Popular?

 Now, you need to look at the other side of the coin.  As a check that your choosing the right foundation for your business, why not see what is popular on the internet.  Maybe what you had originally choose is good, but there is something better that you had overlooked?

These sites will tell you what are the current most popular searches in varsious search engines.

  • AOL Hot Searches: Has top current queries, and those in the last hour, last day and within particular categories. 
  • Ask IQ: Shows top searches at 
  • Dogpile SearchSpy: Seea filtered or raw sample of top, real-time search termsSister site
  • Google Trends: Allows you to see Google's database of searches, and determine what's popular. You can see the volume of queries over time, by city, regions, languages, etc.  
  • Google Zeitgeist: Shows what people are searching for at Google and its specialty services for a variety of categories. There are also versions for various countries, as well. 
  • Lycos Top 50 searches: Shows top weekly searches at Lycos.
  • MetaCrawler MetaSpy service. 
  • MSN Search Insider: Microsoft's search engine's top 200 queries.  Not well organized, though
  • Yahoo Buzz: Shows you hot (and cold) search topics at Yahoo.

Supply Questions and Research

Finally, in doing your research, you need to ask yourself:

  1. Can I get the information, products or services I need?
  2. At what cost?
  3. How quickly and easily?
  4. Are there any legal issues, like copyrights?

Like any business, you need to understand your supply chain; from the sources and costs of products and services that  you will resell, to alternative products and suppliers should something change or a supplier goes out of business.

Other research tools

Current most popular search terms and live search displays:

Shopping searches

Top Keyword Lists & Keyword Databases

Wordtracker - The WordTracker service offers the ability to research what people are searching for via the popular meta search services of MetaCrawler and Dogpile. It provides access to query logs stretching back for two months, which amounts to 350 million queries or 40 million unique search terms. The database is also kept constantly updated, with new data added each week.

Overture (GoTo) Search Term Suggestion Tool - The link takes you to the Overture (formerly GoTo) sign-up page. On the right-hand side of the page, in the "Tools" area, click on the "Search Term Suggestion Tool" link. A new window will open. Enter a term you wish to research, and you'll be shown how many searches were done for that term and other terms that include it, for the previous month. If the link fails to work (Overture moves it around), then you may need to open an account to access the tool.

UK - Espotting Keyword Generator - Allows you research term popularity over the past 30 days across Espotting's UK paid listings network. To reach the generator, look for the "Keyword Generator" link just about the sign-up form.

Google Zeitgeist

This provides a look at what people are searching for at Google.

Disturbing Search Requests

Designed to allow people to share the strange, unusual or disturbing ways that visitors came to their web sites via searches at search engines. Be aware that some of the examples shared may contain sexually-graphic terms.