How to use Google Trends in Your Marketing Strategy

What is Google Trends? 

If you’re not familiar with Google Trends, it’s time to get acquainted. You will be amazed at what you can learn from this valuable tool. Google Trends is a tool that Google provides that give any curious soul with a browser a glimpse behind the scenes of what people are searching for. There are several different ways to drill down and dissect the data.

This is a great tool for local businesses to find keywords and topics that you can exploit in your marketing efforts. It’s not the only tool you should be using to find keyword opportunities, but it’s a nice addition to your arsenal if you’re not already using it. 


Evaluate Keyword Popularity

You can enter keywords or phrases and see how search interest has grown or declined over time. You can also easily spot seasonal variation in search popularity for your chosen keywords. Adjust the timeframe to see how that search term has fared over a longer or shorter period of time. Add up to five different search terms to see how they compare against one another. You can use this comparison feature to gauge the popularity of your keywords to prioritize for SEO or paid search campaigns. 

In this example, you can see search popularity for boots, sandals, and socks. Boots is the most searched term from the bunch, but spikes pretty dramatically during the winter season. Sandals follows an almost exact opposite seasonality, with the dips coming in the colder months, when people are opting for boots and socks. (But hopefully not this).

Related Queries

The list of related queries that shows up at the bottom of the report is a great way to get ideas for additional search terms you may not have thought to include. You can view the 25 top queries overall, or you can also see the top 25 rising queries--which means they are experiencing a recent increase in search volume compared to other related searches. 

Competitive Analysis

Plug in the names or domain names of your competitors to see which brands are growing in popularity and which might be declining. This lets you see an up-and-coming competitor who is growing quickly, but might not be showing up on your radar yet. How is your brand name performing over the same timeframe? If your company or any of your competitors have a name that’s very common, be careful not to draw too many conclusions from the Trends data. It works best when you’re searching for a name that is unique to that business. You can try searching by website domain name, too, but sometimes there aren’t enough searches on the domain name to show up in Trends. 

Here’s an example showing how three popular sandal brands have fared since 2004. Crocs took off and really dominated searches for about a decade, but while Teva’s search volume has been steady, Birkenstock has made a resurgence and is battling Crocs a back-and-forth battle for the king of the hill in the past few years. 

Different Types of Searches

In addition to Google searches, you can also check search popularity for images, news, Google Shopping and YouTube. For some keywords, you’ll find similar search trends across all the different channels, but for other search terms, you’ll find that search popularity varies wildly in YouTube compared to web or news searches. This is helpful for knowing which channels to focus on with your marketing efforts. It can also help identify topics that have consistent or growing popularity in each channel. 

Here’s an example showing search history on YouTube for those same three search terms: sandals, boots, and socks. For some reason boots runs away with the most searches even more dramatically than web searches, and the spikes are less seasonally predictable. 

Regions and Cities to Target

The Google Trends search term comparison tool also allows you to drill down into geographic regions to see how your search term fares in a particular geographic region. The initial default is worldwide, but you can change the report to see search popularity by country, state, or city. You can see a breakdown that shows the top subregions for each search term in your report. This can give you insight into markets where your brand is getting traction. It can also show you geographic areas where you could target digital or offline campaigns to drive more business. You can also look at regions where your competitors have a stronger presence to drive your expansion strategy into new markets. 

In this example, you can see the highest indexing states are the warmer states, like you would expect. Except for New Jersey. I guess they just like their sandals on the Jersey Shore. 

Trending Searches

The daily search trends report shows you which search topics have spiked today. So it’s not necessarily the most searched keywords, but instead it shows search terms that showed a large spike in interest. You can see the most popular topics by country and if you click Load More at the bottom of the page, you can view popular searches for previous days.

Besides being an interesting, and sometimes disturbing look at what’s going on in the world around us, these daily search trends can give you ideas on possible topics for content creation or social media posts if you want to catch some of the realtime interest in these search terms. 

Year in Search

As the name implies, the Year in Search report is only compiled once a year. They used to call it Google Zeitgeist, which I kind of miss because it’s a way cooler name but nobody knew what that meant or how to pronounce it so now they simply call it Year in Search. At the time of writing this post, it’s mid-2019, so the last available report is for 2018. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the most popular searches across a variety of categories, ranging from pop culture, to food, songs, sports, travel and video games.

Once again, you can filter by country to see what’s popular in that country. You can view the top 10 search terms in each category. Although this report is only updated at the end of each year, you can look at the historical data to get ideas for content to create and topics that might be interesting to your audience.

The Year in Search tool will also let you look at data for each year going back to 2001, so you can take a trip down memory lane, or even do a comparative analysis of what people were looking for back then, or how the search term has trended in the years since being at the height of popularity. 

Create Subscriptions

Enjoying all the cool insights from Google Trends? You can bookmark the page and come back every day and check out the latest trends. But, of course, it’s not 1999, so there’s an easier way to keep up-to-date on search trends you care about.

Google, in all its googly goodness, gives you the option to set up email subscriptions, which are alerts that are sent to your email, with either search topic trends or trending searches updates. You select how often you want to receive the alerts and sit back and let them roll in.


Pair With Other Keyword Tools

Google Trends is amazingly powerful, but it does have limitations. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive keyword research tool. It is specially designed to identify trends in keyword search behavior. The way search data is normalized to a 100-point scale is great for comparing relative search popularity within a specific set of criteria, but it can lead to incorrect conclusions if it’s not used in conjunction with other keyword tools.

The Trends data doesn’t show you absolute search volume like other tools. There are also a lot of keywords that are relevant and likely have some search volume, but they don’t register enough searches to appear in Google Trends. Keyword tools to try: Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, SEMRush, and SpyFu

Go to Google Trends and start exploring. Be ready for a whole new world to open up as you peek behind Google's search curtain.

If you want to dive even deeper check out these lessons on Google Trends.

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