Have you ever been looking for a company that does X, but you are not sure who all the players are in the space? Well boy do I have a trick for you! A little research trick – Googling using “vs”
For the sake of example, we will act as if we are looking for a new VOIP phone provider.
Pick a starting place
You probably know something. Perhaps you have heard of “such a thing”, or saw a commercial on TV for a provider, or heard something from a friend. In this case, let’s say that you heard of a company called RingCentral.
Visit their site
Google them and go to their site to read what they claim to do. Perhaps you will quickly determine if this is the type of thing you are looking for or not. If you are “ready to sign up”, assuming there is nothing better, move on to the validation steps.
Google keeps track of what people SEARCH for, not just pages they have in their index. In order to help you find what you are looking for, Google will begin to “auto complete” when you type a search. For instance, if you type “when” without hitting enter you will see results like “When is daylight savings” or “When is labor day”. The auto complete results shown are somewhat real time so they are based on actual recent searches.
So, type your target word, in this case “RingCentral”, and wait to see the autocomplete options.
You can see already that one of the popular searches is “ringcentral vs vonage”. I also see “ringcentral reviews, which I think is also a good idea to search as well, at least if I narrow down my selection to include RingCentral.
Here is where I really think the magic is. Google “ringcentral vs”. This is going to get us a list of all of the most popular searches where people started their search with this term. Here is what you get.
Look at all those competitors to RingCentral!
Look for comparison charts
I usually go ahead and select one of these choices to get search results. Then I look for a page where a few, or several results are compared in a table. I clicked the ringcenral vs 8×8 option, went through a few of the results, and found the first comparison chart.
This page was very long, so this is just a screen shot of the top. This only compares a few competitors, and with some further searching I’m sure a more comprehensive list can be found.
Keep at it
Go back to Google and do “ringcentral vs” again.
Go to Google and do “8×8 vs”, “vonage vs”, “nextiva vs”, etc. Click through the search and look for charts. Go to the sites of the providers you find. Look for comparison charts on their sites as well.
When you have narrowed it down to a few contenders, Google “ringcentral reviews”, “8×8 reviews”, etc. You can tell a lot by what people have to say. Pay attention to the dates of the reviews. You want to see recent ones. If there are no recent ones you have to wonder why. If they are old, they may no longer be relevant as companies are constantly changing.
Lightening Bonus Round
If you really want to be fancy, you can look for providers or systems that have the most favorable integrations. You can assume that if other people have chosen to integrate with them, they have a high likelihood of being of some quality or demand.
For instance, if I search “ringcentral integrations” the first organic link that comes up is a page on the RIngCentral site that shows the integrations they have. They have integrations with Salesforce, Office365, and about a bazillion other common and popular cloud based services.
Now, if one of these services are ones you USE now (or think you might use in the future), go search for “XXXX integrations” (“Salesforce integrations” for instance). Look through their integrations to see what VOIP providers they integrate with. This may be telling. If someone you trust is integrating with three or four providers you may want to start there. Also, with Salesforce they have a class of integrations called “Lightening Ready”. It may also be a good indication of how popular that particular provider is if they are in the “top tier” of integration types with another 3rd party.
I hope you have enjoyed some of the nutty methods I use to get at info. There is obviously more research to be done after you get your list of contenders, but getting a good objective list is a great starting place.