Google Trends (GT) is a valuable tool for any successful marketer. Because of its power, it is essential to understand how to use it correctly and not “discover trends” where there aren’t any. This article will tell you everything you need to know about Google Trends and give you 12 ways to use it for SEO.
What are Google Trends?
This is a completely free tool that provides data and graphs about the popularity of certain search queries asked on Google and YouTube.
It was first introduced in 2006, and the latest version was released in May 2018.
With this tool, you can:
- Find out what recently trended.
- Discover trending topics or subtopics within an industry or general topic.
- Identify geographic search trends specific to your region.
Here, for example, the first U.S. presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump began at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 29, 2020.
And somehow, it was “coincidental” in the U.S. that the seven-day Google trend for the query “move to Canada” peaked at 10 p.m. on the same day.
Get Started with Google Trends
GT is used to find trending topics. By clicking on the “trending topics” link on the left sidebar of your Google search results, you can see a list of topics that have been talked about recently. You can then use this information to paint a picture of what people are thinking and how they feel about a certain topic.
Want to dig into Google Trends?
Here are 12 tips on how to use GT to improve SEO. Tips to help you get the most out of the tool and uncover interesting ideas.
1. Keyword research
Free keyword research can be done in GT by entering a specific search query into the search box on the home page. By default, Google’s most popular keywords are searched for, but you can change it to get YouTube search data instead. GT will display a 12-month graph of the search query’s popularity. You can also customize the time frame by expanding the date range. Studying data from the past two or three years, not just the past year, will help you differentiate between fantasy and real trends. Keyword research helps you identify keywords that are growing in popularity and avoid keywords that are losing ground over time.
And while GT is not the first step in keyword selection, it is very helpful in choosing the right keywords! Once you have a good idea of the topic or what you are looking for, GT can help you find the exact way to formulate it. It can help you discover regional differences in phrase preference, as well as identify keywords that are just starting to become popular. As a rule, you should first find the keyword that first comes to mind and look at the “Keywords” section. After that, we check the popularity of various related phrases at the same time to see how they correlate.
A distinctive feature of GT is its ability to suggest related keywords, which are becoming increasingly popular. With this feature, you can find more relevant and appropriate keywords based on your main search query. When you type in a search query on the homepage, the site returns a list of keywords that it thinks are closely related to your query. GT shows these keywords in order of popularity and even gives you an exact % increase in search volume for each one. At times, he replaces % of search volume with the term “Breakthrough,” which shows that the keyword has grown by more than 5,000%.
These trends are some of the most important and are worth paying attention to because they have not yet become competitive. By noticing this trend, you can rank #1 on the Google search page before the keyword becomes widely used. One drawback to building a strategy based on “breakout” keywords is that they can occasionally turn out to be fads rather than true trends. In contrast to evergreen content, the content you create based on these trending keyword search terms can end up being stale.
By understanding what keywords people are searching for online, you can improve your prospecting process by targeting different content or advertising. In addition, by tracking keyword trends for your product or service, you can learn about changes in demand and make adjustments accordingly.
What does the fad look like in Google Trends?
Then you should take a look at the data on fidget spinners.
Data Source: Google Trends
The query “fidget spinners” had practically zero searches until February 2017. Three months later, in May, searches for the product reached their peak. It is quite obvious that the first few months saw a surge in popularity. However, the sharp decline that followed the peak shows that this is no longer a business idea worth pursuing.
At the end of the page, you’ll find another useful feature, similar searches and topics. Here you can find out what users are searching for along with the queries you specify.
Pay attention to the “Rising searches” tab, which displays searches that are gaining in popularity. Using this feature, you can add the most relevant keywords to your advertising campaign and be one step ahead of your competitors.
A little trick. In addition, GT query analysis can suggest topics for blog posts.
With GT, you can not only discover related search queries but also find topics for future content. To the left of the Related Queries table is another table called Related Topics. Instead of specific search queries, it shows the broader topics that people are searching for.
However, you still have to pick specific keywords for each topic you decide to write about, but these prompts will help you find new and relevant ideas for your future content. There are myriad ways to use GT to your advantage, but as a content marketer, you should be aware of these most important ones. Let’s take a closer look at some specific tips for using GT to improve your SEO strategy.
Choose topics: When you launch GT, you get the option to search by “term” or “topic”. We suggest choosing a “topic” if at all possible. Topics are language-independent and allow you to account for spelling variations (and mistakes!) as well as different names for the same subject.
Let’s say you’ve created a niche store specializing in children’s clothing. Once you’ve occupied your niche, you may want to explore other verticals. So instead of only selling children’s clothing in your store, you might sell other product categories that people might also be interested in (toys, maternity products).
By typing the word “baby clothes” into GT, scroll to the bottom of the page to find “Related Topics.”
Remember that as you flip through some related topics, you may find that some of them do not make sense for your business. But you can always write a blog post with those keywords in mind.
4. Start big and cut back
So how do you start big? Write an important keyword for your topic and press Enter. Immediately after that, GT will offer you the following optimization options:
With the “Whole World” feature, you can select a specific geographic market. To give you an example, the word “umbrella” peaks very logically and predictably at different times in different hemispheres.
The time range varies from “2004-present” to “last 4 hours”.
Pro tip: Use different time choices to get an idea of long-term and short-term trends. More on this later.
Sampling by category is important. At any rate, if you want to find the movie “Celtic Thunder” but do not want to read about weather conditions in Ireland.
The “Web search type” category (including Web, images, news, Google Shopping, and YouTube) is another important category (more on that in item #3).
With 6.3 billion searches a day and about 2.3 trillion global searches a year, the main takeaway here is to start big and then filter to gather the most relevant information.
5. Context is very important
The GT system functions in a very conventional manner. The comparison of today’s results is not with the overall popularity of all trends but with the previous achievements of the keywords you entered. As an example, take the phrase “Caribbean cruise,” a very popular search query before COVID-19 came along. Here is what you will see in the default setting, which includes “Last 12 months”.
Data Source: Google Trends
The popularity of Caribbean cruises has plummeted, which, as you can imagine, is not surprising given all the restrictions associated with covid. And what happens if we change the interval to “2004-present”?
Data Source: Google Trends
The trend as a whole looks much more stable. The familiar “heartbeat” line is typical for seasonal requests, such as vacations in Thailand or ski resorts.
Conclusion: Don’t forget to take context into account.
You need to get rid of your own blind spots to make sure you actually discover something that no one else has.
Other ways to add context include:
- Using the +Compare tool to enter new keywords.
- Filtering by different countries or categories.
- Internet searches.
6. Additional search parameters
Use “related queries” and other important search parameters to find new keyword ideas and even outbid your competitors. Here’s how to do it.
Here you’ll see five options that even regular Google Trend users do not always use:
- Web search (default).
- Image search.
- News search.
- Google Shopping.
- YouTube Search.
Each individual click will return results based on different segments of your potential markets. In addition, you’ll notice even more options here for sorting popular topics and queries. Notice that there are some default settings here: they show upward trends. If you click on Rising, you will also have the option to look at common keywords. In most cases, if you want to identify hot trends, it is better to choose the Rising option. Such suggestions are very useful for SEO because they can inspire new content that showcases new trends.
That said, don’t be afraid to dig into the queries – there’s a good chance that you can grab hold of some new trend before it becomes a “breakthrough” and secure a top position for your newest material.
7. Targeting by geographic location
The most cursory work with GT will focus solely on keywords. The location should also be taken into account to get optimal results. With local keyword trends, you can see exactly which regions and sub-regions your products or services are needed, making your SEO strategy targeted.
Filtering by geographic location allows you to focus on those areas with the highest demand for your products or services. If you look at the example we gave above, you can find that the people who are most interested in a Caribbean cruise are Florida residents – or at least people who are already in Florida:
Data Source: Google Trends
If you go one step further by clicking on Florida, you will find that the Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne region has the most significant rate, followed by Miami and, finally, Naples.
Defining niche topics by region is an interesting element of GT. In advertising, we often target audiences by their location.
8. Forecasting trends
Usually, to track trends and try to predict their future behavior, people go into GT and look for trends that have already left a trail of breadcrumbs behind them. But there’s a problem here. All other marketing professionals use the same data. If you want more insights, try using existing data to predict trends.
To catch the latest trends in time before anyone else does, you need to keep a constant finger on the pulse of seasonal and local trends. With GT, you can find current topics that are trending right now and create content on those topics ahead of others. Recently, the practice of “news hijacking” has been a surefire way to capitalize on current hot stories. The GT service is able to show you exactly which news trends of the day are the hottest.
There are two ways to do this:
- Detect trends by sorting by specific categories or countries. Today’s top health story may not be the top news headline in GT, but it can tell you which topics are worth following.
- Combine two keyword phrases in the same trend. For example, both “Vote for Trump” (in red) and “Vote for Biden” (in blue) seemed to trend up over the past 30 days, which means that it is a great question to get the conversation going (i.e., to boost engagement).
Data Source: Google Trends
9. Use long tail keyword phrases to create content
Getting to the top of SERPs is no easy task, but there’s no reason you can’t get to the top of Google search results with an extended tail version of a keyword phrase. Suppose you’re writing a music blog and want to talk about an upcoming event, the Grammy Awards. Follow the trending link, and you’ll find the most popular questions asked on Google, the most in-demand new performers, and even questions related to the Grammy host – such as “age of James Corden.”
However, you need to go deeper and find truly in-depth content. Use tip #3 to find related queries in GT – but do not limit yourself to that. Compare these queries with each other (as in tip #2) to determine the proper context and find out what’s driving customer curiosity.
10. Applying data for video optimization purposes
Analyzing related topics – not just related queries – can help you better optimize video content for search. Let’s say you’ve posted a video about how to get discounts on Caribbean cruises.
- Type in your search query.
- Switch your web search to YouTube search.
- Check out “Related Queries” and “Related Topics.”
- Do a top-down or bottom-up sorting as you see fit.
- You’ll then see that people are searching for cruises by ship class, not just by the ships themselves.
With this knowledge, you’ll be able to write appropriate headlines and descriptions. This will allow you to get traffic from YouTube when the cruise season arrives. You may even decide to create a series of videos (or blog posts) about the different classes of ships available on your cruise line.
11. Cyclical trends for brand positioning
Let’s imagine you’re doing optimization for a bridal boutique. Has COVID-19 had an impact on interest in weddings? If you do a simple search on the word “wedding” over the past 5 years, you’ll find that interest in weddings dropped in mid-2020 but then recovered. Traditionally, interest in weddings has been pretty even all year round.
Data Source: Google Trends
It follows from this graph that wedding celebrations are back on track, despite the pandemic that has erupted, and there is little competition with the holidays. This does not mean that weddings themselves have remained the same as they were a year ago. More research will be needed here.
12. Identifying blind spots and preventing misunderstandings of trends
Expanding your use of GT means that you have to step beyond what you think is your current vision to see if you have blind spots.
Here’s an example:
Don’t believe one snapshot. Be sure to look at the timeline more broadly to see what else is going on.
Perhaps the trend amplification on one key phrase still overshadows more important phrases? Be sure to look at the context.
Doing research on weddings for item #8, we saw a dramatic increase in YouTube trends for weddings in summer 2017 – much more than in previous summers – exceeding previous interest by nearly four times. Further research never identified a specific keyword other than to show a dramatic increase in interest in weddings in South Asia. This trend, driven by geography, is an excellent example of the particular insight that comes from a never-ending search to understand the context.
Now, with the knowledge you have, you can use GT to plan your content calendar.
Knowing your blind spots (while your competitors may not) will give you the ability to delve deeper into search results to gather more sophisticated data to inform your SEO strategy.
And some more:
- Find out what’s trending right now: Real-time search trends are great for seeing exactly what’s happening right now and in the context of news coverage.
- Always compare: To understand the magnitude of a trend, compare it to relative popularity figures. Weather is one telling subject for comparison. The topic is one of the biggest and most viewed in daily searches.
Data Source: Google Trends
- See how different countries search for the same thing: This is one of the very interesting hidden features of Trends. You can easily compare up to five topics or search queries, and for each one, you determine the geography. You can, for example, see how COVID-19 search queries have changed in different parts of the world over the last year and a half.
- Trends are not surveys: GT is not a tool for creating scientific surveys, and they should not be confused with survey data. They merely reflect search interest in specific topics over a period of time. But they have a lot to tell: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses Trends weekly to track GDP between quarterly publications, giving a more detailed picture of what’s going on in the global economy.
- Download the data: Just click on the download button next to each chart. For a larger data set, check out the new daily data set of trending search queries from the Google BigQuery team.
- Use GT to find niches. GT is a great tool for finding a booming niche. When searching for a new niche, change the range from “last 12 months” to “2004-present. That way, you can see if your search volume is increasing or decreasing. It will also give you the ability to see seasonal trends on one screen.
13. Seasonal trends in promoting your store
Seasonal trends are very important for the success of your business. There will be peaks and troughs throughout the year that will affect your monthly sales. During the peak season, competition and sales will increase in full force. During downturns, you may start selling seasonal items. Having analyzed off-season trends, you’re probably now wondering what to sell in the off-season. Think about items that naturally complement your store’s offerings but would be well suited for the off-season.
14. Using Google Trends to determine the freshness of content
Content marketing helps the biggest online retailers get more traffic to build brand awareness and attract more customers than ever before. Consequently, creating content for a blog site can help grow your business. In order to generate a spike in search traffic, you need to use “fresh content.” What is this? It is removing outdated content, adding fresh new details, and republishing content on the blog.
How does GT treat this? Consider seasonality again, but for a different purpose. Let’s say you own a bike store, you might have an article on your blog with the keyword “how to fix a bike.” Throw those keywords into GT, and it looks like this.
As you can see from this graph, the peak season for this search query is usually June and July each year. Of course, you need to update your content every time you start to lose your position in Google. That is pretty obvious. But if you want to up your game, you can also align the freshness of your content with the peak search query season. If you own a bike store, you can update your “How to Fix a Bike” article at the end of May. By doing so, you’ll skyrocket to the top of search results for that keyword. Use this strategy for your most effective SEO articles, and you’ll quickly increase traffic to your site.
15. Make content about current trends
On the front page of GT, you’ll find a section containing trending search queries. Trending search queries are the most relevant topics at the moment. Here you can view daily trending searches, real-time search trends, and country searches.
Although trending searches are mostly about celebrity news, you can find some interesting stories related to specific areas. For example, on February 27, 2019, the most popular daily trend was the “Momo Challenge,” which garnered more than 5 million searches. In the “Related News” section, you can see keywords such as “children” and “parents.” If you own an online store geared toward parents of toddlers, you might want to publish a blog post on this topic worthy of attention.
By covering news stories on your store’s blog from time to time, you’ll generate a lot of traffic to your site. In addition, you can use trending hashtags on Twitter to share your newsworthy article and get more Twitter followers and social media engagement.
16. Google Trends Google Shopping
With GT, you can also choose the best time to create ads in Google Shopping. Let’s say you’re an apparel retailer and you want to promote a new holiday dress in your online store. By taking a look at the GT feature in Google Shopping, you’ll determine the best months to place ads.
17. There is some confusion about Google Trends data
Many people think that the trend curve is a direct representation of query search volume over time (like the one you see in the Google Keyword Planner tool).
That is not entirely true. While Google Keyword Planner shows absolute search volume data, GT shows the relative prevalence of a search query.
Below is an explanation from the GT Help Center:
Trends adjust search data to facilitate comparisons between terms. Each data point is divided by the total number of searches in the geographic and chronological range it represents to compare relative popularity.
In other words, relative popularity is the ratio of the search volume for a query to the sum of the search volumes for all possible queries.
The resulting numbers are then scaled from 0 to 100 based on the proportion of topics in all queries.
Trends eliminate repetitive search queries from the same person over a short period of time to give you a more accurate picture. It is important to note, however, that Trends only shows data for common terms (low volume is given as 0).
To build a graph the way GT does, take the following steps:
- Calculate relative popularity as the ratio of the volume of search queries to the total number of search queries.
- Scale these values in proportion so that the largest value is 100.
- Plot the points on the graph.
So we can draw two important conclusions:
- The popularity of queries changes when the search volume for a query changes. This is pretty obvious, right?
- Also, the popularity of a search term changes if the total number of search queries changes, even if the search volume for the query is constant.
As you can see, the popularity used in GT does not correlate with the search volume of the query in all cases. But in the vast majority of cases, it does.
How do we look at the numbers in this context? Since GT data is presented as an index, it is not clear how important it is at all. So this can be evaluated in several ways. The first is to understand the relative search interest in a topic compared to the topic itself – or what we would call a “spike.”
Figuring out the percentage increase in search topics can be a useful way to understand how much interest in a topic has expanded. A percentage increase is based on an upswing in search interest in a topic over a period of time compared to the previous period.
These “spikes” represent a sudden acceleration of search interest in a topic compared to normal search volume. We know that such spikes are interesting because they often reflect what is happening in the real world – for example, the number of Irish passport applications increased after the UK vote.
To get a sense of the relative scale, you can add additional terms that help put search interest in perspective.
Looking at related search queries can also help you understand the conditions that may be causing spikes in GT. During its annual Man of the Year special, TIME examined search interest in each of the candidates. To understand the context of each spike, TIME highlighted related searches for each topic when it spiked in searches to better understand what was driving people’s curiosity at the time.
18. Brand Awareness Activity
Marketers will tell you that one of the most difficult tasks is tracking and monitoring the results of brand-building activities. Every business needs to invest in this, but it’s often difficult to justify it to company decision makers because it’s not in the “money in, money out” nature as in the case of sales activation activity.
There are several metrics that can be measured, such as vote share and brand penetration, but one of the easiest and most effective ways is through GT analysis.
As you study the data, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your competitor’s brand growing or shrinking?
- Has your brand been stagnant for years?
- What place do you occupy in your competitor’s ecosystem?
- Are they more popular in certain regions of the world?
- Have they become more popular in Google Shopping and Image Search?
- Has your competitor’s content gone viral on Google News?
There’s a lot to understand and learn from this data, and it’s completely free! Very importantly, it’s data like this that will be the deciding factor the next time you’re trying to find sources for important brand activation events.
How is trending information from Google News Lab different from GT?
The Google News Lab may tweet or post trending information about important events that cannot be found on the publicly available GT service. We check such information for signs of inappropriate activity, but like regular Google Trends data, it is not scientific and may not fully match trends in Google Search.
What’s the difference between Google Trends and Google Ads search data?
Google Ads report on search queries allows advertisers to get data about the number of queries on average and per month. GT provides more detailed information in real time.
How to build graphs?
If not enough queries are registered for the phrase in Google Search, no graphs will be built in Trends. Try the following steps:
- Use a shorter query.
- Check if the words are spelled correctly.
- Expand the date range.
How to use the search operators in Trends?
GT has special sets of operators for effective keyword searches.
1 If you enter a query without operators, you will see all variants which contain the entered search query in any order, as well as similar search terms.
2 If you enter a query in quotation marks, we do not allow the inclusion of similar queries and change the word order. But the statistics will involve queries with additional words.
- Using the “-” operator before the text, we shall remove from statistics queries including a certain keyword, for example, “free”.
4 With the operator “+” you can include synonyms or typos in the statistics.
COVID-19 and GT
Given that traditional search volumes derived from third-party tools rely on a 12-month average, during this pandemic, we can throw many of them out the window. The isolation of people, the shift in interests, and the shift to digital have caused marketers to adapt their strategies.
So GT is becoming an even more useful tool. Let’s take the fitness industry as an example. Let’s take “exercise bike” as a search query.
The number of searches you see in a third-party tool may indicate outdated data. In contrast, GT shows an increase in interest during 2021 and a gradual decline in 2022.
Relying solely on search volume data can lag behind in figuring out which of your products are the most popular, which of them should be invested in developing their pages, and which should be promoted through advertising.
If you haven’t already done so, you need to integrate GT data into your keyword research and content creation plans to remain flexible, and adjust to your audience.
In early fall 2020, Google self-released data on search trends related to COVID-19 symptoms. This data mainly consisted of the volume of search queries for more than 400 symptoms, signs, and medical conditions. The goal was to track the spread of disease through user searches effectively.
Critics argue that GT data should not be relied upon because it does not always match actual data. However, GT data is another source of information and a tool that can be used for pandemic awareness.
If you’re interested in reading more and keeping up with GT search data, check out their collection of articles here.
You can use GT for a little fun or just to confirm your suspicions about trends in your industry.
During the first lockdown, there was an insane demand for toilet paper, and many people stocked up unnecessarily. So it’s no surprise that if you look at the interest in “bidets,” you’ll see a tremendous surge in late March!
How to export, embed, and quote data from GT
You can add charts to your site with data from GT on topics that interest you. You can also export these statistics.
How to export a chart
If you need to do a more detailed analysis of the data from our service, you can export it in CSV format. Here’s how to do it:
- Open GT.
- Search for what you want.
- In the chart window on the top right, click the Download Download icon.
- Open the file in a spreadsheet application, such as Google Spreadsheet.
Instructions on how to link to your search results
- Open GT.
- Search for what you’re looking for.
- Click on the Share icon at the top right.
- Choose where you want to share your Trends data.
Instructions for your chart
- Open GT.
- Search for your desired query.
- Click on the Share icon (at the top right corner).
- Select where you want to share the chart.
How to embed a chart
- Launch GT.
- Search for your searches.
- At the top right, click on the Embed icon.
- Add the generated HTML snippet to your webpage.
- Click Done.
Note. This feature is not available for all charts.
How to use and quote data from Google Trends
When using data from Google Trends, you’ll need to adhere to the Terms of Service. When sharing your findings, make sure you acknowledge that Google is the source.
Example. If you’re using a screenshot from their service, put a line next to it reading “Data Source: Google Trends”.
Note. Google Trends and Google Ads are different data sources. Keep this in mind when referring to them.
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The competition is very high (as with any tool you can use to improve the effectiveness of your SEO efforts), and making sure your campaigns achieve their goals is often very difficult.
Given the fact that the same tools are available to almost everyone, you’re going to have to get a little creative when using Google Trends.
Try to come up with fancy search terms, learn the finer details of time-sensitive search queries, and look for geographic regions you may not have considered before.
With this and these tips, you’ll hopefully be able to make the most of Google Trends’ potential.
Google Trends was not designed specifically for content marketers and SEOs. But despite that, it can be very useful for keyword research. (And other marketing-related tasks).
There’s no other tool that will give you the most up-to-date information about what’s in vogue in search engine rankings right now.
Use Google Trends to explore general trends and interests specifically in your field. Then, analyze the data you get. To begin with, take the most common vital queries, gradually descending to a lower level, and then you will get the most objective picture of customer demand on your topic. Use specific search operators to get the most accurate results.
Service Google Trends allows you to compare statistics on:
- Search queries;
- Time periods.
With Google Trends’ various features, you can find out what your potential audience lives on and when users need your product the most. We recommend supplementing your media plan with analytics based on Google Trends data.
Do you use Google Trends in your marketing efforts?