Not that I deserve to be grouped in the same league as Pareto or Chris Anderson, but I’ve developed a new Ã¢â‚¬Ëœrule of thumb’ to help microbusinesses grow online, called the 3/30 rule of search engine marketing, which states:
In a market with less than 30000 competitors and approximately 3000 customers, there is potential for a Google number 1 ranking.
Let me explain. Suppose you sell cashmere scarves on your website, as one of my new clients does. A quick search on Google tells me that if my you also sell a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœplaid cashmere scarf’ you will be competing against just 4930 companies for a Google number 1 ranking. And if your website is optimized efficiently, you can expect a large chunk of the 3600 people who search for and want to buy a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœplaid cashmere scarf’ each month to at least visit your website. That’s not bad for just one product.
Now imagine you could optimize each page of your website for a specific long-tail, or niche keyword like Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcashmere sweater v-neck’ (6600 searches a month with only 2650 competitors) or Ã¢â‚¬Ëœblack cashmere sweater’ (3600 searches a month with 21100 competitors). With 20 different product pages on your website all optimized effectively and ranking in Google’s top 3 results, you could expect to receive around 48000 visitors to your site each month.Ã‚Â Impressive!
How to research 3/30 niche markets
As with so many things in life, Google makes it easy to research 3/30 opportunities for niche markets.
Step 1 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Find your markets
Open a browser window and go to Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool. It looks like this:
In the ‘Enter one keyword or phrase per line’ box, enter the search term ‘plaid cashmere scarf’ (without the quotes). You may also be asked to complete a captcha box to verfiy you are a human visitor. Then click the ‘Get keyword ideas’ button.
The tool will spend a few seconds processing your request, after which you should see something like the screenshot below:
As you can see, the approximate search volume for the phrase ‘plaid cashmere scarf’ in September 2008 was 3600 searches – a figure which is within the 3/30 principle’s parameters.
Step 2 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Check your competitors
You next step is to visit Google.com and type your search term into the search box as follows Ã¢â‚¬Å“plaid cashmere scarfÃ¢â‚¬Â. Be sure to include the double-quotes around your search term. This tells Google to only search for the exact search phrase. Then click the Search button.
On the results page you’ll see a message on the top right saying: Results 1 – 10 of about 4,930 for “plaid cashmere scarf”. (0.18 seconds) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or something similar depending on which Google Data Centre your results are served up by.
So this means you effectively have 4930 people to compete against for a top 3 spot on Google. This may sound daunting, but compared to a broad search term like Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcashmere scarf’ (324 000 competing pages) it’s a breeze.
Now all you have to do is repeat this process for each of your products, but remember to focus on finding niche markets rather than generic ones.
The 3/30 principle of search engine marketing isn’t flawless, but it can be used to determine whether your online business stands a chance of success. There are a few instances where the 3/30 principle won’t work and I’ll cover those in a follow-up article next week.
On the whole though, careful consideration of your company’s website search terms and a rough indication of your competition can drive traffic to your microbusiness website, and should result in a healthy number of leads and/or sales.