Posted by Olga Sapach
on 11/20/20 10:17 AM

Case study: Product launch strategy based on a study of search demand

You won’t find a happy end or another impressive success story here. Instead, we prepared an instructive story about how to prepare a new product launch strategy, conduct niche analysis, get the necessary data, and interpret it to make the right decision. 

Background

In 2019, a client from the IT sector asked us to promote their new online security product. The solution the company created was first intended for internal corporate purposes, but then the marketing department decided to bring it to market as an independent product. This was a good idea, given that the product had already passed a test drive in the company.

To bring the new product to market, a website was created with several landing pages. The main users and decision-makers for the purchase were supposed to be security consultants and IT company directors. The main triggers of the purchase: various incidents related to server, site and internal portal security. Four typical user portraits were created, and various situations in which the product might be needed were described.

Client’s Request: “Develop a new product launch strategy focusing on building reputation”

The client requested SEO. To focus the website’s optimization, the client stated its main goal as the need to "create the reputation of a reliable and experienced cybersecurity vendor using content on the site and third-party resources."

What does this mean for SEO professionals? In this case, our task wasn’t just to insert a couple keywords on each page and somehow make them appear in a search. No, the task of creating an “expert reputation” is much more complex. It might entail, for example, the site’s presence in different search engines for all major information requests, a clear description of the structure of the offer for the consumer on the site, a large number of auxiliary thematic content that answers user questions (and also attracts information traffic), etc.

Therefore, our main challenge was a question of strategy: based on what queries and in which countries should we promote the solution? In fact, it is also a matter of content marketing seo strategy. The only way to answer it was with niche analysis and competitor analysis, and to assemble a semantic core building our complete online marketing strategy for a new product. We happily got to work, but we ultimately ended up with something neither us nor the client was expecting.

Niche Analysis And Market Research

The main questions we tried to answer:

  • How strong are the client’s existing pages and how can they be made better?

  • What are the optimal keywords?

  • What can we take from competitor strategies to promote the client’s site?

  • How can we bypass certain competitors in a Google search for basic thematic requests?

  • How strong is the external activity of competitors (links, references)?

  • Are the competitors the client listed really the main competitors in different regions?

To answer these questions, we:

  1. Analyzed the text relevance of the existing pages on the client’s site.

  2. Compared 7 main groups of keywords defined by the client.

  3. Found and rated 15 additional keyword groups.

  4. Examined the user's portrait and compared it with the real intentions of users based on the collected pool of requests.

  5. Created a visual search demand tree for all queries.

  6. Compared selected queries in English for 6 countries (USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany).

  7. Analyzed the intersection of requests from 3 competitor sites.

  8. Defined "fake" requests of competitors.

  9. Found competitors with intersecting semantic cores.

  10. Completed a comprehensive analysis of the search promotion strategy of three competitors.

Niche Analysis And Search Demand Check

A study of search demand showed that the client’s assumptions about targeted queries didn’t coincide with reality by 80%. And that was just the beginning.

To be more precise, out of the proposed 7 thematic groups, 1 didn’t exist at all (users don’t search that way), and 3 were poorly developed or didn’t exist in certain regions. Accordingly, we had 3 main queries left with the following indicators for the selected regions:

Total frequency

8,520

Longtail length 

~14,000

Longtail frequency 

~60,000 for the USA  

+70% for all other regions

Estimated website traffic when 3 main (categorical) queries get in the Google Top 10

400 - 3,500

Estimated website traffic when all tails hit the Google Top 10

5,800 - 46,000

 

This seemed like a good start, albeit with certain nuances. For example, requests evolve differently in different countries. Also, for the USA, all main keywords had a longtail with a lot of one-time “zero” requests (which complicates optimization). Quite a large portion of the groups was relevant to the subject of the site.

The unambiguous conclusion: despite their “similarity,” the promotion of one or even several pages of the site in all relevant groups is impossible. However, this is exactly how the content was created on the client’s current pages: "here, now and about everything."

Also, to cover the demand in all regions, it was necessary to combine semantic cores for several regions (i.e. save all requests for the desired regions, combine them into a single file, clear them of duplicates and create a tree), or create a site tree based on the total search demand in English (this will take into account the requests of users from other countries, including non-native English speakers). It also needed to be taken into account that search demand in English in other (non-native English) countries exists, but is limited to only two of the most popular areas. Therefore, it turns out that the client’s main message that was supposed to position their product and describe it on the main page wasn’t the most appropriate. Therefore, the marketing strategy for launching a new product must be changed.

After these not very positive conclusions, we decided to check the synonyms, their tails and user intentions associated with them. As it turned out, there were a lot of synonyms, and most of them suited the client for promotion well.

In total, we managed to form several dozen new common query groups with a common frequency several times larger than what was indicated in the table.

Thus, it turned out that there is a search demand for synonyms, there are a lot of synonyms and they have a lot of query groups. So the next step was obviously to understand what competitors are doing. Perhaps they just aren’t using what we found, and this is a great chance for our client to enter the market with a new solution?

What Did Competitor Analysis Show?

Here is how the traffic of the main competitors (indicated by the client) was allocated:

 

Site 1

Site 2

Site 3

Attendance, month

1 mln

315k

1.1 mln

Collected the main domain from them

30%

12%

37%

Direct traffic

30%

51%

20%

Search traffic (6 months)

53% (in different periods from 50 to 60%)

17% (in different periods from 11 to 19%)

58% (in different periods from 57 to 62%)

Google in search traffic

99%

98%

98% (1.16% DuckDuckGo)

Mobile traffic share

60%

15%

13%

USA share

42%

77%

52%

 

As you can see, these sites had traffic from 15 to 30k people a day, and two of them had half their traffic from searches. How were they developing a SEO strategy? How were they achieving such impressive results in a seemingly narrow corporate niche?

Traffic quality

Site 1

Site 2

Site 3

Bounce

70%

50%

58%

Pageviews

2.2

3.6

3.6

Duration, minutes

3

2.1

5.5

 

The most interesting thing was that the analyzed sites were very weakly intersected by the generated traffic! We assumed that this could happen for several reasons, for example:

  1. Different technical solutions when working with subdomains and client projects

  2. Different approaches to the localization of proposals

  3. Different categories on which projects are positioned and, as a result, different semantic cores

We decided to check all these assumptions and carry out a very detailed niche analysis of each site, including its overlapping, fake and lost requests, requests with strong and weak competition, requests for individual types of pages, etc.; text corps, and dynamics of positions.

The findings were unexpected and quite different for each site.

Conclusions About a Niche And Competitors After Researching Their Requests

The promotion strategy of Site 1 was to create as many pages as possible with users, even if the pages were low-relevant to requests. Also, a very large portion of traffic generating pages was collecting the smallest possible amount of traffic. The main page was generally not optimized, and category pages were also missing.

But the site had a huge number of indexed pages. And even if 80% of them didn’t work to drive traffic, but are still present in the index, they continue to exert link pressure on a number of main pages.

In fact, the site “winds up” traffic through user-generated content and technical information on pages about different user domains and their security checks. In addition, much to the shock of our client, most of these pages were related to pornography themes!

Site 2, which collected twice as less traffic in the table and had worse quality indicators, used a different strategy. It collected traffic from the search thanks to a wide variety of weakly relevant pages across many different subdomains, but the pages on the site were clearly not optimized enough. At the same time, a third of traffic was attracted by the site on the UK domain!

In general, the number of indexed pages on subdomains was large, although it was best referred to as “technical content” rather than informational, expert, sales, or something else. We were far from confident in this promotion strategy.

The main page of Site 3 collected traffic exclusively for brand requests. In other words, it wasn’t actually optimized either. However, further study showed that the site possessed a large semantic core of low-frequency thematic queries and, accordingly, a set of relevant pages for these queries. Also, 53% of traffic yielded only 39 pages of the site, and the remaining half was brought by another 1,663 thematic pages. At first glance this seems like a lot, but if you compare it with the millions of pages of Site 1 (with the same numbers) yet with absolutely fake intentions, then the strategy of Site 3 is actually the best of the bunch.

The issue was that the nature of the requests wasn’t quite the same as “ours.” In fact, the largest amount of traffic to Site 3 turned out to be connected with... hacker themes! And this wasn’t at all what the client imagined when it drew its portraits of target users.

Product Launch Strategy After Examining Competitors Sites and Keywords

As two of the three competitors indicated by the client turned out to actually be weak competitors in terms of SEO, we decided to find stronger ones to see what they do.

From a list of ten new competitors, it was obvious that overlapping requests on their sites are largely informational, with their transactional intention serving as only a small part of the search demand. This is how they create their expert status. It would be impossible to avoid the use of information queries in promotion strategy.

Our promotion strategy would have to take into account the presence of strong competitors and the need to build up content related to the theme. In fact, selling online products in this niche is multi-step, not direct.

The new competitor analysis showed a large search demand with many niches, while each individual niche is not very developed. There are many variations and synonyms of the same concepts (for example, users use different verbs (prevent, detect, protect, etc.) to find solutions to different issues; even for a single topic, concepts can develop in different ways, for example, “detect malicious traffic” yes, “prevent malicious traffic” no, etc.). The issue is further complicated by the presence of a large number of requests conditionally related to the topic, yet inappropriate for our case, namely requests from people trying to find solutions not for protection, but for hacking.

In addition to landing page text optimization for selected queries, competitors also employ a broad approach to increasing the internal link mass using several solutions:

  1. Mass generation of "technical" pages by templates, for example, site profile pages with parameters.

  2. Stimulating the generation of content by users on individual content projects, most often Q&A.

  3. The publication of a large number of informational blog articles about the thematic semantic core on the site, a subdomain or a formally unrelated thematic domain, but with a link to the main site.

Thus, our client’s current site with 20 indexed pages competes in basic queries against competitor sites with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pages indexed on similar topics!

As a reminder, the client’s ultimate goal was to position itself as an expert and solidify this reputation in the eyes of users.

However, with our strategy we can’t venture into regionality and create regional sets of pages because there are no localized queries, yet the difference in search results by region is not much different.

Also, while focusing on getting queries in the Top 10 and having a semantic core of several thousand queries, you need a tool to track the positions of all these queries to understand the presence or absence of page optimization dynamics. Accordingly, a portion of the resources must be planned for a similar tool and for the monthly analysis of the situation as a whole with its individual positions.

What Did The Client Decide?

And what decision would you have made in this situation?

After calculating the budget for all these efforts, our client decided it would be easier to pivot their online product and enter the market with a completely different solution!

In the end, there’s no example of a successful launch of the new product. We could’ve started by taking a number of simple steps to create expert content, automatically generate content, and also stimulate the creation of user-generated content. And if we were a company that only offered page optimization or content localization services, we would’ve probably tried to persuade the client to jump in and pay a lot of money for search promotion.

But we’re focused instead on marketing solutions and real expertise in evaluating search demand. If you want to explore new niches and bring new products to market, contact us! We’ll do a real marketing audit for you based on niche and competitor analysis.

Dmitry Razakhatsky,

leading SEO specialist in Alconost

Order a study of search demand