Product sourcing is something that every online seller needs to get used to, no matter how successfully your stock is selling at the moment, at some point you’ll need to find something new to source and to sell. One of the questions that I’m asked the most frequently with regard to online selling is how to do I know which products are hot? What tools do I use in order to discover the next best thing to sell within my niche markets? You get the idea.
Although there are a range of different tools that I use, today I want to introduce you to one in detail. This is a tool that I use every day, and one that is really useful when it comes to sourcing products to sell. It’s called Google Trends.
Google has revolutionised the way that we search online today, to the point that the name of the company has become a verb. If we’re looking for a piece of information, we ‘Google’ it. Millions of searches are handled by this search engine giant every day, and the great news is that Google gives us access to information regarding exactly how many searches are made for any particular search term. Google Trends allows us to access that information.
The Google Trends website looks very simple at a first glance, but its direct link to the Google search engine makes it incredibly powerful for product research. Within the website you have the ability to search for any term to see how many people have searched for that word or phrase during the last few years. You can even narrow the data down to a specific period of time, for example the last year or the last couple of months, and reduce the results to display a certain geographical area or a certain region within the UK, or any other country.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool, and if you’re not already using it then now is the time to start! Let’s run through the step by step process of using Google Trends for your own product research.
Step 1 – Open Google Trends
Your first step is to find the Google Trends website, which you can do by going here
The two things to draw your attention to here are the search bar at the top of the page, which is where you can enter your specific search phrases, and the Hot Searches area, which displays those searches that people within the specified location are currently looking for within Google.
Step 2 – Use the Search Bar
Your next step is to start searching within your niche market area to look for particular products or product groups. Although you can enter as many keywords or phrases as you want here by separating them with a comma, I’d suggest starting with one or two and adding more as you go, so that you can get to grips with the way the website works. Let’s say in our online shop we’re thinking of selling Yoga DVDs; our first search may consist of something along the lines of ‘Yoga DVD, Fitness DVD’. Clicking the Search button will return results relating to that term.
At a glance we can see both search terms displayed on the graph, showing exactly how many searches the terms have received over the last few years.
Step 3 – Refining Your Search
The information presented immediately from Google Trends may not be too useful to you; knowing how the search term performed ten years ago might not help you to know how well searched for it is today, and so your next step should be to narrow down the search to show the most useful information to you. To do this, take a look at the four drop down menus at the top of the page.
Let’s run through them now:
- The ‘Worldwide’ drop down allows you to specify a particular area, for example United Kingdom. This can be useful if you’re looking to target a particular country, as your results could otherwise be skewed by searches conducted elsewhere in the world.
- ‘2004 – present’ may be the default setting, but chances are you’re more interested in searches from the last year, or the last couple of months. Opening this drop down allows you to specify a date range.
- The Categories drop down option allows you to jump straight into a specific category that could relate to your niche market. For our Yoga DVDs we may choose to focus on Beauty & Fitness, or perhaps on DVDs & Media. Drill down into categories and subcategories to see where most of the searches for the term fit.
- Finally you can choose to view searches specifically for web, for images, for news, or, perhaps most interestingly, for shopping.
After narrowing down your search a bit the graph can become more meaningful.
Step 4 – Analyse the Results
It’s all well and good making pretty multi-coloured graphs, but the real power of Google Trends comes from being able to successfully analyse the results that you receive. In our example of Yoga DVDs it seems that there was a big surge in searches at the start of the year; perhaps this could be because of a demand for exercise after the Christmas indulgence? It could make January the best time to source these products. A bit of additional research and adjusting the drop down menus could help you to identify if this is a trend that happens every year.
You may also wish to try out some different searches around the same search term, for example, in sticking with this example, you could try adding the search ‘Pilates DVD’, or ‘Yoga BluRay’ to see how those terms compare and to discover what your prospective buyers are really looking for right at this moment in time.
By comparing the results that you take from Google Trends with other tools, such as the Amazon bestseller lists and eBay’s recently completed listings, you’ll soon start to see if what’s being searched for on Google is really selling well. By using this to drill down into your own niche market you could soon start spotting some great product ideas, and start to realise exactly when and where to target your stock.