Monday, October 25, 2010

Sleep Better with Google Tools

This post was originally created as class assignment #5 for MSU's New Media Driver's License course, and posted to the course website on October 25, 2010.

I was awake half the night last night thinking about Google Tools. Actually, that’s not exactly true. I was awake because my husband was snoring. But since sleep wasn’t likely, I got up, logged on, and explored Google Tools.

Are there Google Tools that could help me get a good night’s sleep? That might be asking too much, even of Google, so here’s a different question: If I came up with a way to stop snoring or help people sleep better, are there Google Tools that could help me build a successful business around it?

Insights for Search: Am I the only one who can’t sleep?
I suspect that lots of folks are challenged by a snoring partner, but to see if indeed there is a market for a non-snoring business, I turned first to Insights for Search, a tool that helps you learn more about what people are searching for.

It’s quite simple to query Insights for Search. I began by selecting a “Search terms” comparison, and arbitrarily trying a few snoring-related terms. Within the Filter category, I first selected a Web Search, focused on the U.S. (again, arbitrarily – it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the sleepless in Singapore), and looked at searches that took place in 2010. I also focused the search on the Health category. Here’s how that query looked:

Turns out, snoring is just a subset of the larger category of “sleep.” Sounds obvious, but that insight could prove important when determining the focus of my sleep-related business, and developing ad messaging, choosing keywords, and even planning blogposts (assuming this new business will employ all three). Focusing on sleep as a health concern, rather than just snoring, might be a smarter marketing strategy for this hypothetical business.

The top searches and rising searches associated with Sleep, another analytic tool available through Insights for Search, provide still more insight into what sleep-related issues are hot on consumers’ minds right now.

Google Analytics: Is my business putting people to sleep?
If I were to start an online business related to sleeping better (and why not? I have plenty of time, since I’m not SLEEPING), Google Analytics could tell me all about visitors to my site:

* Who’s new to the site and who’s returning (assuming those returning visitors are really sleep-deprived)
* Are they sticking around or leaving quickly (“bouncing”)?
* What sites and searches drove them to the site? This info can help me identify the keywords I should be choosing, and Google Adwords can be easily incorporated into Google Analytics to track the performance of paid search efforts too.

Without having an actual site to analyze, I couldn’t play with Analytics, but I’m anxious to. There’s SO much data to crunch here, it could help any business work smarter (and any insomniac sleep better!) Seriously, the sophistication of the data you can include on your dashboard is impressive.

I’m just beginning to explore the benefits of these and other Google Tools. I could use Google Blogs to see what sleep-related topics are being discussed in the blogosphere, using either Google Alerts, a Google blogsearch gadget on my homepage, or a blog search feed through Google Reader. And I haven’t even explored how I might use Google TV advertising to target people when they can’t sleep – that’s another great option!

I’ll be spending much more time working with Google Tools down the road. But right now, I think it’s time to try and get some sleep!

photo credit:  sign by dmjarvey

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