Have you used Google Trends?
Even if you have, you may not be familiar with all the ways it can help your marketing – and trust me, it’s a lot.
In this article, I’ll go over how to use Google Trends to improve your marketing strategy.
What You’ll Learn:
- What Google Trends is and what you can do with it
- How to use Google Trends for SEO:
Google Trends is a super useful tool that compares search terms and trends over time.
This is a key capability for marketers. You can find out the lifetime or current popularity of a search term to determine if it’s one worth targeting – and how it compares to similar terms. It makes your SEO strategies and ad targeting more focused, more current, and more effective.
How Does Google Trends Work?
Here’s a quick catch up for you.
Once you launch Google Trends, you’ll be taken to the dashboard where you can view the latest trending subjects or enter in your own terms and trends to track. You don’t need to log in or pay to use the service, which makes it a brilliant resource for businesses on a tight budget.
For example, let’s take a look at how the term “content marketing” has performed.
You’ll notice at the top you have the option to sort the results by location, date range, category, and type of search.
We’re starting with a look at the past 12 months, and unsurprisingly, search volume has remained pretty consistent (hint: this is one way to determine if a term is worthy of evergreen content).
Change that date range to 2004-present, though, and you’ll see a different story. That chart shows you exactly when content marketing became a major factor in marketing (notice the continuous upward trend beginning in 2011).
Kinda cool, right?
And that’s not even close to all it can do.
But before we dive into what, exactly, Google trends is and the cool things it can do to improve your SEO, we need to get a few things straight.
First of all, it’s fueled by a search term’s popularity, not necessarily its volume.
Google Trends Help breaks it down like this:
«Trends adjusts search data to make comparisons between terms easier. Search results are proportionate to the time and location of a query by the following process:
Each data point is divided by the total searches of the geography and time range it represents to compare relative popularity. Otherwise, places with the most search volume would always be ranked highest.
The resulting numbers are then scaled on a range of 0 to 100 based on a topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.
Different regions that show the same search interest for a term don’t always have the same total search volumes.»
In other words, Google Trends doesn’t just reflect the raw search volume, although a higher search volume is often linked to higher popularity. In most cases, a higher search volume in a tool like Google Keyword Planner will also correlate with higher popularity in Google Trends.
Think about it this way: if popularity was just based on volume, then the top search trends would always come from New York, Beijing, and London. But just because those locations have more people, doesn’t mean that they reflect what everyone thinks.
So Google divides up search volume based on a bunch of factors like location and search frequency, to make sure that you’re getting an accurate picture of trends.
The final search popularity stats you see are a ratio (based on a 1-100 scale) of how that popular that search term was at a specific time.
How to Use Google Trends:
Keyword Research and Strategy
The first and most obvious use is for keyword research.
In particular, it’s a great tool not only for finding the popularity of a given search term, but for finding long-tail keywords to help inform your content strategy.
And right now, longtail keywords are becoming essential for SEO, as more people use voice and mobile to search. These formats encourage people to search long, conversational queries, instead of just typing a few keywords.
So let’s get started finding Google keyword trends.
Plug your keyword into the search bar, and it will return up to 25 related search queries, as well as up to 25 related trending searches. (If you search for a niche or industry-specific term, then Google might not have so many results to show you.)
Even though Google keyword trends won’t show you the exact volume for a particular keyword, you can use a secondary SEO tool like SEMRush. This will show you the monthly search volume for that keyword, to make your data even more informative.
You can use the related search terms to plan future content or identify which search terms can be dually targeted in a piece of content. So, you can make your content serve several keywords at once – or expand your site with new topics that your audience wants to hear about.
The trending queries are quite possibly the most useful part of finding Google keyword trends. Monitoring the trends related to any of your niche topics will help you identify new opportunities for content, and keep on top of how your audience’s preferences change over time. That’s especially important for seasonal marketing or any fast-changing industry.
Seasonality plays a big part in marketing, and knowing when your audience is most likely in the market for a particular product or service you sell is some pretty prized information.
And luckily, it’s exactly the kind of information Google Trends can provide you with.
For example, take a term like “snow boots.”
No surprise here: peak search season for snow boots in the US is consistently November and December, with a lead up in October and continuing into January.
Of course, switch the location to New Zealand, and peak season is in June.
Or, say you operate a travel business and want to know when to start advertising your Caribbean cruise packages.
A quick look in Trends reveals that over the past 5 years, searches for “Caribbean cruise” have been most popular from late December to early February.
Now, with this information on hand, you know that you should be launching campaigns at the tail-end of the holiday season. And you want to dial down your marketing campaign just prior to the holiday season. That idea might come as a surprise – and that’s exactly why it’s worth using Google Trends. Remember that your customers won’t always think or behave in the ways that you, as a business, expect them to.
So you can use the tool to plan not just what to talk about, but when to talk about it, too. And you can get even more detailed…
Say you have a brand that could benefit from a Comic-Con-related push. This, clearly, is a once a year deal, which means marketing at the right time is crucial.
Using Google Trends, you can see that popularity was highest during the week of July 15-July 21.
But to use an even more granular approach, you can set a custom time range to include just that week.
This allows you to see that popularity steadily increased throughout the week, peaking on the 21st (right in the middle of 2018 Comic Con weekend). With that information, you know to push your best content during the event rather than in the lead-up time.
Planning PPC Campaigns
In addition to helping plan any seasonal campaigns, Google Trends can also help you get the most out of paid search ads.
Let’s take another look at the “Caribbean cruise” search.
We already know peak popularity for the search comes in January-February. So our hypothetical travel agency would know to launch a content campaign during those late winter months, as well as prepare and budget for a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.
During peak times, any paid cost per click will likely be higher – which allows you to plan and allocate budget in advance, especially if you’re working inside a more limited budget. Instead of spreading your spend across the year, you can target PPC campaigns for just a couple of times a year, when they’ll be most effective.
Google Trends also gives you access to regional data, which means you can use it for market research.
Below, we can see the popularity breakdown of “Caribbean cruise” by state.
We can break that down even further by selecting the menu arrow, with options to view by City or Metro regions.
On a state level, we can clearly see that Florida is the state performing the most “Caribbean cruise” searches. Floridians are more than twice as interested in cruises than any other state!
Then, we can break it down further:
So we know that when planning a PPC campaign, our top geographic targets would be:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- Orlando-Daytona Beach
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
- West Palm Beach
On the other hand, if we click through the subregions, we can see the states that receive the least amount of popularity. So we wouldn’t waste any paid advertising there.
Local SEO – Research Product Demand by Geography
We’ve already touched on how different regions might respond to seasonal marketing in different ways. But geography also affects search trends in general, all year round. More than likely, there’s a higher demand for your product or service in a certain area.
Google Trends will help you narrow down your strategy to focus on those specific areas where your time and energy will be best spent.
For example, if you sell sports equipment and wanted to know where to find the best place to sell tents, you could do so by plugging the keyword into Google Trends.
Here, you can again view data based on state, city, and metro to get as narrow an audience as possible.
Then, when you’ve uncovered the areas where searches for that keyword or most popular, you can run local campaigns during peak popularity.
So, based on data from the past 5 years, you’d know to concentrate the brunt of your efforts in regions like Fairbains, AK and Anchorage, AK from April to July.
Having an idea of where your target audience is most active will also help your content to rank highly in organic search results.
Because Google is primarily concerned with user experience and relevancy. When you add location information to your content, you could improve its relevance for your target areas. So Google will potentially show your content to more people in those areas.
Lastly, the information gathered from geographical trends can help you target your PR strategy. Knowing where your products or services are most popular can help you search for any location-specific blogs, news sources, events, or influencers you could consider reaching out to.
Investigate Traffic Dips
Have you ever experienced a sudden traffic dip to an otherwise steady blog post?
As marketers, it’s always wise to investigate the root cause. Google Trends can help you do that and determine whether or not the post is worth saving.
This will be especially true of trending topics or keywords, where you may find that a search term that once experienced a super surge in volume simply isn’t popular anymore.
Case in point: a fidget spinner.
Notice a very clear dropoff point where the keyword seems to drop off entirely – with no recovery in sight.
In that case, it’s probably a post not worth wasting a refresh on. However, if you are using seasonal keywords or expect traffic to pick up again later, make sure you continue to monitor Trends. Think about using related keywords to give the post a boost during its off-season.
Compare and Contrast Keywords
Google Trends also gives you the ability to compare the popularity of two or more keywords alongside each other.
For research, this is a great ways to rank your target keywords in order of importance. You can pick out the most valuable keywords for your business, decide which phrases to prioritize, and evaluate whether different keywords deserve their own content.
For example, you could look up the difference in popularity between related terms like “digital marketing” and “Internet marketing.”
From there, you would want to do further research into overall search volume and competition level. You may very well find that because digital marketing is more popular, it also comes with much steeper competition. Remember that popularity can hinder almost as much as it helps!
Including a trending topic in your content, ad copy, or headlines can be a genius way to catch the eye of a much larger audience. But you need to get your timing and your tone right.
If you scroll down towards the bottom of the homepage, you’ll come across a Trending Searches section.
This will tell you the top searches each day.
From them, you can pick and choose any that could be manipulated into some promotional copy.
Take a topic like Star Wars. With the series reboot, every two years you can bet a Star Wars theme will be trending come December.
And you know what else you’ll be seeing a lot of? The Jedi Mind Tricks of (insert keyword), or How to Launch Your (keyword) Into Hyperspace.
But effective? Absolutely. Just make sure you spend a few minutes researching your chosen related terms so that you don’t accidentally associate your brand with any inappropriate topics. If you don’t feel familiar with the term – find out more about it!
Google Trends is an incredibly powerful tool that can help marketers in many ways.
From keyword research and content planning to campaign timing and PPC, adding it to your list of marketing tools will give you a leg up in marketing planning. Stay up to date with search trends, geographic variations, and seasonal changes so that you can offer up content your audience will love.