Most website owners in the know recognise that keyword research, and staying ahead of online trends can be crucial to their success, and overall impact. Knowing what your audience are demanding can help you create content and information that fills a gap, and provides more targetted visitors to your site.
But what if you are actually selling online, rather than just providing content?
Online retailers and affiliates are often perfectly placed to turn this kind of information directly into profit as and when it happens. However, thankfully, it’s the few and far between that tend to really monitor what’s happening out there to maximise sales – so here’s some of the places I personally recommend online retailers keep an eye on.
Google Insights for Search
Unsurprisingly, my first turn is to Google to find trends, but it does take a bit of poking around to find the data you want. Instead of comparing two terms (side by side) – the secret with find what products are currently going ‘hot’ online is to completely ignore the keyword selections, and just select from the locations radio button. The results are interesting to say the least, and allow you to specify alternative categories – giving access to different niche information. For example selecting ‘Technology’ showed that searches for ‘Windows 7’ were currently shit hot, and that demand exists out there for this at the minute.
The other obvious advantage to this tool, is that you can specify regions, so if you only do business for certain products in certain parts of the world, you can drill down to find the popular products there and then.
Ciao started as a product review engine and was purchased by Microsoft in 2008. The currently use it in the UK to power their Shopping results for Bing Europe. The most notable useful section is Ciao Charts, which provide a breakdown of historic sales data in a variety of categories (which can be accessed via the archives). This is extremely useful data for retrospectively viewing what has been a popular and easy sale – all without lifting a finger.
Amazon is probably one of the best websites for spotting trends on, not least because of the breakdown that it provides. You can find bestsellers in all of Amazon’s 25 category breakdowns. It’s not only retailers who may find this information useful. Bloggers who are writing inside a particular niche (e.g. music) could do worse than spotting which artists are making waves as regards sales data goes, and it’s also not a bad indicator of who could potentially be going in at number 1 in the Charts – stacking the odds in your favour if you fancy a flutter on such trivial matters. Mover’s and Shaker’s also let you see what is getting hott(er) over a period of time in each category, and Amazon publish annual press releases containing the previous years sales data, and historic Bestseller information.
With Amazon exposing a number of API’s to its data, and having the proprietory algorithm ‘SalesRank’ – there is a whole world of data for retailers to tap into. Unsurprisingly third party websites have cropped up that use these API to work out historical sales data, and to give indicators of product verses product comparisons. RankForest is one such site. One of the most useful elements of the service allows you to compare two products alongside each other, and view which one has trended more positively over time. Retailers can take much more calculated risks on product lines as a result, choosing to stock a safer bet, and affiliates can use the information to maximise returns if unsure between two potential products.
Ebay Popular Keywords
Ebay provide a complete A-Z glossary of the most popular search terms used on their engine. You can use this to see what its currently popular within the auction site, and with Ebay’s size, this will commonly translate into general demand for consumer goods online. The service provides every product you can think of, with everything from Abba to Zziplex in the index.
Kelkoo is one of the highest traffic comparison engines on the net, and they too supply a wide range of ‘popular’ insights for their search. Like Ebay, we can obtain an A-Z breakdown of popular keywords, which incidently seems to correlate with some of the Ebay data quite nicely. They also however provide Top Categories, Brands and Stores – which provides a certain amount of insight in its own right.
Whilst instinct, attending tradeshows and personal taste are great ways of working out what to buy for next season, it also makes sense to supplement these decisions with the data from the wider internet community as well. Algorithms that exist on your competitors websites to maximise sales, can just as easily be turned around to your advantage and help you understand what is hot and what is not.
We noticed several retailers and affiliates getting in quickly, and out quickly – and making an absolute killing on ‘Vuvuzela’s’ during this World Cup, riding the demand trend, and building content around them. What ways do you guys best keep your finger on what products are making an impact?