The Power of Data: How to Use Google Trends

How to Use Google Trends
How to Use Google Trends
Kendall Brennan
By Kendall Brennan

Google Trends is a tool that shows the search trends of people using Google’s search engine around the world. As you may be aware, Google is the most popular search engine in the world, so by analyzing the data offered by this free service you have what is essentially a synthesis of market research and SEO data. Whether you are a content marketer, a small business owner, or a project lead for a PR firm – whatever your business is really – Google trends gives you the ability to intelligently and meaningfully communicate with customers base on what they are already thinking about.

This article will give you, in broad strokes, a primer for how to use Trends and simple suggestions for using its data in creating your SEO structure and conducting market research.

Getting Started With Trends

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The landing page of Trends will show featured trending searches. In the example above the three featured stories are the Golden Globes, winter storms, and the Super Bowl. The colored maps indicate where these topics are trending the most, darker areas of color indicating the highest volume of search terms relating to the trending topics. You can see the upper Midwest is very interested in the Super Bowl this year and predictably the two areas most interested in the Golden Globes are New York and LA.

At the top of the page you’ll find the “Explore topics” search bar where you can enter keywords and see how and where they are trending. We will return to the Explore topics bar later, but for now we will focus on the Featured insights to get an overview of the types of information you can get from Trends.

If you’re a content marketer looking for trending topics to on which to base a piece, this page should be one of your brainstorming go-to’s. We’ll click through the Super Bowl 2018 portal to see what else Trends can tell us about this trending topic.

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Clicking on the Super Bowl link takes you to a further breakdown of hot topics related to the initial keywords. The first set of data shows the most searched teams involved in the play offs and a county by county breakdown of who’s searching for which team. You can see between January 19th and 20th The Eagles and Patriots had movement in the public discourse.

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Further down the page you can see data from around the world showing who is thinking about American football globally.

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Additionally, Trends takes a closer look at some of the search activity in the Minneapolis area, the site of the Big Game.

All this pointed information about the real activity of people globally and how they are interacting with a specific topic can be incredibly powerful. Think of these first examples as a prime and extrapolate how you can use this sort of targeted information in your SEO research and optimization or your content creation. We got this far into understanding the national conversation and atmosphere surrounding the Super Bowl in two clicks.

If you’re in the business of blogging, taking a dive into the featured trends will offer nearly limitless potential for new content intended to meet your potential leads where they already are.

This example only scratches the surface. Remember we haven’t quite left the front page yet. Kind of crazy isn’t it?

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Below the featured trends is a list of 25 additional trending topics that is continually updated in real-time. If you want to get a handle on what’s happening on the web and in the zeitgeist and the current news cycle this will be as much as you need. Just as the featured trends were clickable to access even more data points, so too are the trending topics. Since we’re on the topic of football, let’s click on the fifth item on the list.

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Again, clicking through will give you more insights into that topic: where people are searching for it, how often, and what specifically they are interested related to the initial keyword. Bear in mind that each additional data point is clickable, so you can further refine and compare trends related to trends and get as granular as you want.

Ultimately, simply clicking around the first couple splash pages of Trends can glean a wealth of information, but to get the most out of trends for your business or your marketing you will want to move beyond the featured content and trends and customize your results.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the basics will look at how you can use Trends for marketing and SEO research. Back to the “Explore topics” bar!

Targeted Marketing And SEO

A standout strength of using Trends to improve your SEO is in keyword research. While the industry standard remains AdWords and its Keyword Planner, Trends offers insights that other research software can’t match, or, put another way, it wonderfully complements the tools you may already be using. A rising tide lifts all ships, so to speak.

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Sticking with our sports theme, let’s imagine one of your keywords is “soccer cleats”. Enter that keyword in the “Explore topics” search bar and fire away. Trends will take you to a page that gives recent history of the searches for soccer cleats. Take note of the pull-down menus over the top left of the line graph in the screenshot above. These allow you to tailor your search to specific regions and specific times, and to specific web traffic. So, if you happen to be a distributor of sports equipment in California looking to drive traffic and increase sales of soccer cleats you can tailor your search to take that into account.

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By limiting the search to California Google Shopping inquiries you can see where in California marketing your soccer cleats may be the most effective (hint, it’s the dark blue area).

If your company is looking to drive traffic to your blog by enticing soccer cleat enthusiasts, perhaps you’re in the footwear industry and want to track the development of new soccer related products. The related topics mentioned above will allow you to intelligently expand your keyword list.

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At the bottom of the search results two boxes show related topics. On the right are the most searched keywords related to yours. Be sure to include these in your SEO focus. The left has perhaps the more potentially interesting data with what keywords are rising in popularity or frequency over the time period you indicated in your search. By watching trends like these you can attempt to anticipate or eve influence trends with your content. If you can incorporate a rising keyword before it reaches its peak you will see less competition and more traffic. It’s an exciting way to keep your company on the pulse of what your potential leads are looking for.

What Trends really means for SEO and market research is that it has brought on the age of semantic keywords. It’s not enough to compile a list of keywords exactly relevant to your company anymore. To be successful you need to incorporate the full spectrum of what your customer persona is interested in, drawn to, and looking for online.

As you can see the potential for gathering useful data from Google Trends is huge. No matter the space your company is in, you find a use for it. So, start clicking around, you’re certain to find something interesting. Who knows, you might discover something essential about the human condition.

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Kendall is a Senior SEO Strategist at Power Digital. She specializes in SEO, but also has a passion for the holistic view of digital marketing and seeing how all channels work together to create a strong digital presence.