Our business suffered a 60% drop in turnover the week after the UK Covid-19 lockdown was announced as some businesses obviously impacted by the virus had no option but to cease trading and in a few cases businesses took the opportunity for a breather to replan their future business strategies, not just their Online Marketing activities.

Whilst it came as a shock and we had financial reserves to cope, needless to say, this brought home the necessity to seek out growth areas in the economy so we and our clients could start to rebuild as much of our businesses as quickly as possible.

We are of course more fortunate than most as after over two decades of Online Marketing successes we have a pretty good grasp of how to leverage Internet channels, old and new, but it got us to thinking about others less fortunate. We thought “how would you cope if you know next to nothing about the Online world” perhaps as it’s been largely ignored or unnecessary until now. And even for those familiar with online not everybody knows about some of the readily available tools that might help a  business survive in the New Normal, tools that make research from home easier than ever.

As the leading advertising channel on the planet, Google is an obvious source of lots of data and whilst they keep a lot of it to themselves (and our job as SEO’s is often to read between the lines at what they are and aren’t revealing) they also share a lot of good stuff. With a 95% market share of online searches, they are also the obvious source whereas Microsoft owned Bing accounts for around 1-2%.

Google Trends at trends.google.co.uk is a great tool to try and see what’s going on in the world and you can drill down as far as you like into niche topics, when you drill too deep or if an emerging trend not yet popular obviously they’ll have little or nothing to show you. But in our view, it’s a great tool right now to be able to see in almost real-time what’s hot and what’s not, particularly if you also compare to past trends. It can be used to get a feel for where your business might want to invest going forward, perhaps as a different strategy to what’s gone before.

So as an example we’ve had a look at double glazing and solar panels – you can research individual topics or compare them. The Google graphs aren’t real numbers but are indexed towards 100 with that score being awarded to the traffic level when it was at the highest, so you can see if a market is growing or shrinking.

Wealth Warning: One thing to consider with the trends tool and any research is that the data won’t be 100% reliable so don’t bet the whole farm on it, also in the case of Google trends specifically data is often at least a week behind reality.

All Time Trend

Annual Trend

As the graphs show, the first being the trends back 16 years, the second over the last 12 months, both achieve similar search queries from prospective customers with solar enjoying a peak in the UK around the time of the best home grants being available. No surprises there then. But who would have imagined Double Glazing sales would be enjoying a huge peak mid-COVID-19 with some of the most encouraging trend figures for about 8 years?  So at a time when we might be thinking it’s an industry to avoid investing in, it could actually be a great time for a new look at the market?

Another useful tool for more timely data is the Google Adwords tools provided to Google advertisers who are booking Pay Per Click adverts with the platform. It has a wealth of free tools you can experiment with but as Google hides more and more data all the time you get the best experience if you sign up to become an advertiser even if you don’t go on and spend – it only costs money if they click on your advert.

Wealth Warning – but just because they click on your advert doesn’t mean they will buy from you! Huge costs can be accrued very quickly for no return hence why many businesses also invest in SEO as it yields larger traffic volumes once a campaign is working with no money needing to be paid to Google, so it’s less disastrous if a lead is a wrong type.

The Adwords tool, now called simply Google Ads reveals in detail all the detailed keywords being used to search for specific products or services and you can start your research by asking the tool to research a specific website, maybe a competitor or you can seed it with some phrases you feel intuitively prospective customers may be typing into search queries online.

To get you started Google often offer incentives (as once you start Pay Per Click is a bit like Crack Cocaine, hard to kick the habit!…so beware) but the incentives will let you open an account at no cost. This link will generally lead to a £75 discount – try this voucher https://tinyurl.com/y3uk6pqq

Microsoft Advertising – formerly known as Bing Adds, is a much smaller advertising platform and oddly offers deals much less often but you can often find phrases that can be bid on at lower cost and here too any deals let you experiment pulling out research data at less cost. Try out this link for deals here https://help.ads.microsoft.com/apex/index/3/en-us/50829

As we’ve said many times before, the best way to beat a recession is to market your way out of it with aggressive Marketing spend but it’s a tough call in tough times but history has shown us that those businesses which invest when others are stopping or are slow to react bounce back both faster and also generally reach much greater heights than ever before. I hope these simple tools help in your own planning process.