From Keyword to Business Idea in 8 Steps Learn the language of people's problems, and you'll discover untapped markets.

By Allen Moon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Keyword research is incredibly effective for market research because the main reason people use search engines is to find solutions to their problems. And people with problems might be willing to pay money to solve them.

But there are so many ways of expressing the same problem. "Cat food" could also be "cat treats," "food for kitty," "organic cat food." Someone who needs to feed a cat could use any of those terms in their search, or hundreds of others--and search engines record every one of them. That means there's a mountain of data about what people are searching for--and it's all waiting to be analyzed. That's why initial keyword research is a crucial first step if you're just starting an online business.

Low-cost research tools, like Keyword Discovery , Wordtracker , and BeBiz , make sense of all the data the search engines provide. With that knowledge, you can uncover untapped niche markets by finding problems a lot of people are seeking answers to--and not getting many results. If you find a hungry market first, and develop a product to serve that market, you've already won half the battle.

Keyword research in a nutshell

  1. Use one word to describe a passion or interest, e.g., dog.
  2. Combine your interest word with "how" to generate problem statements in your keyword research tool, e.g., "how dog." We use Google's free AdWords Keyword Tool for this brainstorming process.
  3. Record the "action words" that come up, e.g., "how wash dog," "how housetrain dog.". These are terms that people are using to search the internet to solve a problem they have.
  4. From that list, choose some problems that you have the interest, knowledge, or skill to solve, e.g., "train dog."
  5. Find as many ways as possible to express your interest word and your action word, e.g., training, educate, teach, show, obedience, commands, stop. To find similar terms quickly and easily, try entering each term into or the new Google Sets .
  6. Enter your interest-plus-action phrases into your paid keyword tool--you'll get a long list of real searches that people are doing in the area you're focusing on, e.g., "stop Pomeranian yapping," "teach dog cute tricks," "paper train puppy."
  7. Organize the top keywords into groups according to the action being performed, e.g., barking, basic obedience, tricks, housetraining, professional dog training, puppy training, etc.--now you have some pretty specific problems you can investigate.
  8. Look for the largest clusters and add up the number of actual searches--a large cluster with lots of searches is worth exploring further because it indicates that a large number of people are trying to solve the same problem.

You might not find a serious money-making niche the first few times you go through the process, but keep going. You'll find one eventually, and you'll get faster and better at it the more you do it.

Once your business is established, you'll continue to use keyword research. You'll look for the keywords that will attract the people who are most likely to buy your products, and you'll use those keywords throughout your web pages.

You'll use those same keywords in your advertising, and every time you reach out to new audiences via social networks or article distribution. You'll build special landing pages based on keywords to attract targeted traffic to your opt-in offer or products.

When you've mastered the keyword research process, you've unlocked the door to online success.

Allen Moon is the founder of On Deck Marketing, an internet marketing agency that specializes in product marketing strategies, e-commerce and online marketing.

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