Search First – Then Design Your Product

With a world of data at your fingertips, quickly determining if a new product idea is already on the market should be easy and fast. Unfortunately, for many companies, would-be inventors and entrepreneurs harnessing the power of Google for market information and related patent data can be just out of reach. While basic keyword searches and a quick look through Google images may provide easy low hanging data fruit, access to the high value bits takes a little more search skill knowledge.

Design 1st has developed our search acumen and business expertise helping inventors and start-ups better understand the patent and competitive landscape of their new product idea. We offer our clients a ‘Product Opportunity Investigation’ (POI) report that provides a detailed web based examination of their product idea.  When doing searches yourself, with a little web search knowledge, a more intelligent Google Search query is all that’s needed to see that your inventions market is saturated with competition and you should abandon the idea, modify the idea or move onto the next idea.

For the do it yourself crowd, to get a full understanding of whether your product idea has value beyond the napkin sketch, here are  3 Google Search tricks that will either set you on a path laughing all the way to the bank or sulking back to the drawing board.   A simple search leads to millions of results and all of us get tired of looking after page 2.   Tricks you should use, in any search using Google to bring more relevant information to the first pages:

1)      Google Search Operators:

The internet has often been called the “largest library in the world with all the books on the floor”. If this stands true than Google is the Library catalogue and Search Operators are the Dewey decimal system. To find what you want and leave out what you do not, Google has several Operators that help structure your keyword search, returning more relevant results.  Commonly used search operators include:

- “Quotes” to specify exact words and phrased that must be included in search results

-  Hypen (-) to remove certain keywords and

- Number Range (#..#) to specify specific dates and series’ of numbers

- OR: gives you a choice (cats OR dogs)

For example, if your product idea is for a new Mouse Trap Innovation that works by capturing not killing the mice and can accommodate rodents up to the size of squirrel; a Google search query that will reveal any competitors in the past three years could look like this:

-          New “mouse trap” OR “squirrel trap” product invention OR innovation OR idea 2010..2013 –kill

A review of the Google Search Results show that the game Mouse Trap is within the top search results. This is not helpful for the information we are trying to find so we remove it from the search results using the Hypen operator (ie. –game). This returns a number of relevant results including the “Big Cheese Multi-Catch Mouse Trap” for $5 and the “Mouse Trapp” which also sends a text to your Smart Phone when mouse is caught.

2)      Google Alerts:

Google Alerts is your own private army of internet searchers that go out everyday crawling the web for keywords that you specify. The best part, its free! All you have to do is sign up to Google Alerts with your Google account, enter your search query and watch the results trickle into your inbox. If you’re trying to get a better understand of your product idea’s industry Google Alerts is a perfect place to start. You can track news on competitors, product reviews and industry news. Although one tip to remember with is to setup very specific keyword phrases for Google to alert you about or you may end up with dozens of irrelevant results. To do this refer to Trick 1 and use your Google search operators.

3)      Google Trends

Google trends is another handy free tool that lets you see the popularity of search terms over time, by region, industry and type of media (ie. Text, image, video). Simply plug in a search term (ie. Mouse trap) and get a chart, map and similar keyword terms that are rising in popularity. This is a valuable tool to determine the popularity of certain brands. For example, if you’re product idea is a new golf club that you ideally want to license to either Taylormade or Callaway Golf club manufacturers – you can type both their names into Google Trends and see who is more popular. Additionally, Google Trends provides a forecast feature of future search interest along with news Headlines from companies, brands and keywords being searched.

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