Walkthrough: Using Google Trends

May 15th, 2018

Everybody knows that great, relevant, well-timed content is key to a content marketing and SEO success. Google Trends is a fantastic source of data from the search giant itself, presented in an easily-accessible visual format

It shows trends from web searches, images, news, Google Shopping and YouTube, which can also be refined by:

  • Country and region
  • Time period
  • Category (eg, Finance, Arts/Entertainment, Sports, Travel, etc)

Compare interest in various search terms/keywords

Type in key terms relating to your industry and you’ll get a graph showing trends over time for these phrases. This defaults to worldwide, but you can tailor your search to a specific country and even a specific region.

You can compare up to five search terms by typing them into the search bar at the top of the page, separated by comma (I’ve chosen to compare holiday terms):

google trends search bar with commas

The initial graph that’s generated gives you an instant snapshot of which terms have the most search volume:

google trends graphic showing comparative interest in search terms

This is shown as ‘interest over time’ (in this case a month, although the date range can be adjusted). The numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term, while a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means that there was not enough data for that term.

Find related queries

Helpfully, the tool also returns a list of other things people searching for your term also Googled – useful when building a keyword list:

google trends related queries

View seasonality of phrases

As you can see in the example below, there has been a very consistent interest in the search terms over the time period I selected (the past three years). The pattern is obviously very cyclical with the peak time being January for the majority of the terms:

google trends graphic showing interest in travel search terms over time

The term ‘last minute holidays’ (in purple) follows a different pattern, peaking at the height of the UK holiday season in July/August, as you would expect. This gives an indication of when the best time to target these keywords, for example, in a paid search (PPC) campaign, or when planning your content calendar for the most organic search impact.

See how trends have changed over time

All of the terms, but particularly ‘cheap holidays’ have declined in popularity since 2004 (the furthest back Google Trends allows you to go). This poses the question of whether ‘cheap holidays’ is still a viable keyword to target. This change could be down to any number of things, but potential reasons could be that user searches have shifted towards long tail, so things like “cheap holidays to France’ may have improved. It could also be down to consumers moving away from cheap holidays and looking at other areas of the travel sector.

google trends graphic showing interest in travel search terms over time - part 2

Research topics by geography

With voice and mobile search becoming increasingly popular and customer expectations of personalised results, the more data you can get about regional interest in topics and search terms, the better.

Underneath the top graph, you’ll see a map under ‘interest by sub-region’.

google trends interset by region

If you click into this, you’ll get a breakdown by city, which shows the locations your term was most popular during the specified time frame (respresented as circles that you hover over). You can view this by overall search interest, as well as a breakdown of the regional popularity of each of the individual keywords:

google trends interest by city

Compare international trends

You can compare country-by-country trends by typing in your term, then clicking the three dots on the right side of the search box and selecting ‘change filters’. You can then change the country (and the date range if you wish). Click ‘add comparison’, enter the same phrase and adjust that search to compare with the search trends in a different country.

google trends regional comparison dropdown

Here’s how the search interest for the keyword ‘luggage’ compared over the last 12 months, UK versus Australia:

google trends regional comparison

Most people won’t be surprised to see that searches for ‘luggage’ peak in the UK during the summer months (July to September), while it’s November/December in Autralia.. It’s easy to make assumptions about international trends, but using Google Trends allows you to quickly check real data sets.

Get insight into trending topics

Google trends offers minute-by-minute, real-time data from more than 100-billion searches through the engine monthly, which allows you to evaluate search trends during different times, or even at major events, such as the Oscars or the World Cup.

This allows you to pinpoint real-time marketing opportunities that you maximise the topics that are grabbing people’s attention through content creation, social media and newsjacking.

The home page shows you a list of Trending Stories, which you can then click into to dig a bit deeper into the sources that are relevant to that story, the search interest over time and related topics.

You can also explore Trending Searches, which shows you dynamically updated top 20 trending search terms for today and going back historically.

In the age of search marketing, personalisation and relationship-building are key. Added to that, the growing complexity of today’s customer journey means that understanding your audience is a vital first step towards a successful search marketing strategy, whatever your business’ size or sector. Download our free eBook to get to grips with what makes your customers tick.

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