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 you can use Google Trends in multiple ways to improve your strategy.
Google Trends is a super cool tool that allows you to compare search terms and trends over time.
The ability to this is especially key to marketers, who can use the tool to see the lifetime or current popularity of a search term to determine if it’s one worth targeting – and how it stack up to similar terms.
How to Use Google Trends: An Introduction
If you haven’t used Google Trends before, well, you’ve been seriously missing out.
Here’s a quick catch up for you.
Once you launch Google Trends, you’ll be taken to a dashboard where you can view the latest trending subjects or enter in your own terms and trends to track.
For example, let’s take a look at how “content marketing” has performed.
You’ll notice at the top you have the option to sort 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 – and one that tells 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 all the cool things Google Trends can do to improve your SEO, we need to get a few things straight.
First of all, Google Trends is fueled by a search term’s popularity, not necessarily its volume.
Google Trends Help breaks it down like this:
- 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, it’s not reflecting the trend in search volume for a search term, but instead the trend in popularity. In most cases, a higher search volume in a tool like Google Keyword Planner will also correlate with higher popularity in Google Trends.
But when you see this expanded in Google Trends, know that it’s a ratio (based on a 1-100 scale) of how that popular that search term was at the given time.
Now that we have that squared away, let’s take a look at how to use Google Trends to improve your SEO strategy.
How to Use Google Trends: Keyword Research and Strategy
The first and most obvious use of Google Trends 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.
Plug your keyword into the search bar, and Google Trends will tell you the top 25 related search queries, as well as the top 25 related trending searches.
Even though Google Trends won’t show you the exact volume for a particular keyword, you can still find it by using an SEO tool like SEMRush. This will show you the monthly search volume for that keyword.
You can use those related to plan future content or identify which search terms can be dually targeted in a piece of content.
The trending queries are quite possibly one of the coolest parts of Google 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.
By using the two types of queries together, you can form a strategy that includes both evergreen content (most popular over time) and trending topics (rising search queries).
How to Use Google Trends: Seasonal Marketing
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 December, with a lead up in November 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 Carribean cruise packages.
A quick look in Google Trends reveals that over the past 5 years, searches for Carribean cruise have been most popular from late December – 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 do less promoting prior to the holiday season, which may come as a surprise).
Which means that you should have your promotions planned and ready to go when search is most popular.
It also means you want to have content planned that coincides with that topic – ie X Reasons to Visit the Caribbean, etc.
You can also drill it down even further.
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.
How to Use Google Trends: Planning PPC Campaigns
In addition to helping plan any seasonal campaigns, Google Trends can also help you prepare for any paid search you’re planning.
Let’s look, again, at the “Caribbean cruise” search.
Because we know peak popularity for the search comes in January-February, in conjunction with launching a content campaign, that travel agency would also know how to prepare for PPC campaigns.
More importantly, it will help you prepare for those PPC campaigns. During peak times, any paid CPC will likely be higher – which allows you to plan and allocate budget in advance, especially if you’re working inside a more limited budget.
Google Trends also gives you access to regional data.
Below, we can see the popularity breakdown of “Caribbean cruise” by state.
You can break that down even further by selecting the menu arrow, which will give you options to view by City and Metro.
On a state level, we can clearly see that Florida is the state performing the most “Caribbean curise” searches (it has nearly double the popularity of the second state!)
Then, we can break it down further:
When planning a PPC campaign, your top geographic targets would be:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- Orlando-Daytona Beach
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
- West Palm Beach
On the other hand, if you click through the subregions you can see the states that receive the least amount of popularity.
When planning your budget, you may then want to consider excluding states that run under the 75% or 50% popularity mark.
How to Use Google Trends: Local SEO – Research Product Demand by Geography
More than likely, there’s a higher demand for your product or service in a certain area.
Using 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 you to target an audience searching for 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 – July.
Having an idea of where your target audience is most active will also help in your content efforts.
Because Google is primarily concerned with user experience and relevancy, including location information in your content could improve its relevancy in those given areas – and as a result, its rankings.
Lastly, the information gathered here can help you target any PR efforts. Knowing where your products or services are most popular can help you search for any location-specific blogs or news sources you could consider reaching out to for publicity.
How to Use Google Trends: Investigate Traffic Dips
Experience a sudden dip in 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.
How to use Google Trends: 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 one of the better ways to rank the order of importance of the keywords you’re targeting and determine which are most valuable to your business.
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.
Rather than targeting a highly competitive term, it may be more beneficial to go after the lesser popular of the two if you find it still has a relatively high search volume.
How to Use Google Trends: Creative Inspiration
When appropriate, 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.
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 (or, in some cases, ignore completely) 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.
Wrapping Up How to Use Google Trends
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.