Using Google Trends: Tips & Features

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Adam Cook

What is Google Trends? 

Google Trends gives data on search queries – for eCommerce businesses, Trends provides visual data on consumer habits, viral products, seasonal data on products, and more. You can easily track a product’s popularity and potential within Google Trends. 

Google Trends can tell you what you need to know. 

Released in 2006, Google Trends has been collecting data on every word, every phrase and every term that’s been put into Google search engine. For business owners, there’s no doubt that this tool can provide invaluable information.

What can you do with google trends?

Clever things with google trends such as:

  • Comparing your demand with a competitor
  • Finding out which questions are the most popular
  • Finding and tracking peak seasonal periods
  • Comparing demand in different countries
  • Finding out when searchers start browsing
  • Tracking behavioural change 
  • Finding niche products to explore

But bare in mind! By itself, Google Trends isn’t helpful as a discovery engine for sleeper trends that result in new industries.

It’s not going to point out everything! 

It wouldn’t have accurately predicted Netflix and Amazon Prime popularising the home streaming format and killing off Blockbuster by itself.

In order to identify hot niches, you’re going to need the help of an additional tool.

To find industries, you’ll need some sort of tool that allows you to seed ideas. You could browse through trend/hobby related websites like Trend Hunter, go over to the forums, or you could even endlessly browse Pinterest to keep finding new hobbies/industries.

But one of the best trend seeding tools is redditmetrics.com. It lets you view the fastest growing communities on reddit, and while most of the communities you’ll find are typical time-wasting subreddits and nothing all that serious, you’ll come across sleeper trends like last year’s r/magnetfishing.

This example had a huge amount of growth over the span of months and from the data grew to be an emerging hobby.

Taking a look on Google Trends reveals how it trended upwards, on the whole not erratically falling as you may see with some ‘fads’, instead it grew as it gained more of a cult following, with articles still popping up every now and again.

How does Google Trends help marketers?

Being able to accurately predict a shifting market is made that bit easier with a web tool like Google Trends. Marketers can see historical data on search queries, topics and sectors. Data is comparable and exportable so it can be used in presentations to influence marketing decisions.

If your business happens to be season-dependent, Google Trends can help you to quickly estimate its peaks and bottoms by analysing the relevant search queries.

Stockbrokers even use it to predict presidential elections, having proved to be accurate in determining winners through mere search popularity, since the Bush-Kerry election in 2004!

Consumer Habits

We can see how people buy, what queries they type to find products, and how consumer interest can grow in a product, brand, or entity. Analysing this data we can work out product life cycles and it’s also possible to attribute events and occurrences to search queries. For example, time-specific events like the world cup will receive significantly more searches the closer to the event.

Find and Use relevant topics that are trending RIGHT NOW!

With Google Trends you can find search queries that have seen a rise in attention in the last 24 hours, nearly anywhere in the world. But what use case can you find for this? Let’s assume that you run a celebrity news blog.

Cast your mind back to last March, you check Trending Searches and see this: It shows that the Oscars were trending around that time – but doesn’t the fact that this topic is already trending mean that you’re too late already to capitalise on the event?

Not necessarily…

Observing the search trends for the phrase “Oscars” over seven days from March 2nd — March 9th of last year:

On March 4th, the day the topic was trending in Google Trends, wasn’t actually the peak – March 5th was, dropping off on March 6th. So while this window of opportunity may be small, there still is an opportunity to be had.

This isn’t always the case though.

Google Trends does sometimes highlight the trending topic at its peak.

An example of this is the term “mother’s day”, in 2018 that didn’t prove to be a trending search until March 11th!

And since March 11th was Mother’s Day in the UK, interest immediately dropped the day after.

In this instance, unless you had already prepared Mother’s Day-related content prior, you would have been too late to cash in on the wave.

So how do you figure out whether a trending term has already gotten to its peak or not!?

Well, if the term likely spikes at the same time every year, look at when the term’s peak occurred last time.

Using the same example, ‘Mother’s Day’ fell down in the trending terms on March 23rd 2017. This is when the peak had just occurred.

By looking at this past data, you can make assumptions as to whether the interest in a trending topic is likely to increase or fall.

Check for popularity spikes, don’t let your data skew

If you’re pinpointing a good topic for your next content piece, don’t bother starting until you’ve checked the topic with Google Trends.

You can’t waste time creating content for falling topics.

According to the Keywords Explorer by Ahrefs, the term “fidget spinner” had an average monthly search volume of over 900K, but the term “yoyo” only averages 47K searches per month.

fidget spinner yoyo

Keeping in mind that the Keyword Difficulty (KD) for both words is similar, you’d think it would make more sense to make content around ‘fidget spinner’ tags.

Right? Wrong.

Look at how they compare in Google Trends.

fidget spinner yoyo google trends

May 2017 had a massive spike in popularity for ‘fidget spinner’, but since then interest has dropped off massively—it’s now almost nothing.

On the other hand, interest in yoyo’s still remains steady.

Looking closer at the data shows that “yoyo” is now a more popular term than “fidget spinner.”

Keep this in mind when things come out of nowhere, as the work you end up putting in can amount to nothing if you’re not careful when chasing trends.

Analyse Competitors’ performance with Google Trends’ Compare feature

With Trends, you can even see how your competitors are performing online against your brand. 

With Birds of Prey having just come out, let’s do a DC vs. Marvel Comics comparison to see how they’ve been performing over the past couple decades.

google trends compare

What’s interesting to see, is that in 2004: both brands were nearly neck-and-neck, with Marvel only having a slight advantage over DC. But looking further, you can clearly see that after 2013, interest in Marvel skyrocketed – giving them a significant lead.

This feature lets you compare up to five search terms or competitors. 

As your brand garners more consumer interest over time, you can always use the compare feature to ensure that you’re a step ahead of competitors. However, if you find that certain competitors are growing a faster rate than you, you now know how to analyse their marketing channels to understand what you can do to improve.

Keep in mind different keyword types when creating content for SEO.

When you’re typing a search term, you’re bound to see different keyword types, whether it be divided by multiple spellings, abbreviations, or plain differences in punctuation.

Just look at the example below, there are a variety of different topics for you to choose.

  1. “coronavirus (Search term)” would only include data based around that one particular keyword.
  1. “Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus” would include not only the main keyword but others that might be related to it. Like “respiratory disorder” or “do you have Coronavirus related respiratory problems?”
  1. And for “Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus”, it would only include data for searches concerning the Middle East.

Tread carefully with grouped keywords:

You may be asking “Why?”

Well to answer that, just take a look at some of the “related keywords” that popped up when searching the “plumbing category”:

 After seeing this, you’ll agree that it’s justified to not have much confidence in Google to accurately associate and group keywords, especially when wanting relevant results each time.

Use Trends For Historical data

Google Trends goes back to 2004, and as useful as that is for standard research, what if we want even more time to analyse?

… Such as data from over 200 years ago?

Well, you might think that’s impossible. There wasn’t an internet back then, right?

That’s Google’s back-catalogue of books come into play.

For this, Google created the tool ‘Google Ngram Viewer’. 

It allows you to enter one or more values in a search and will then finish up the research by plotting it on the chart for you to use in anything your heart desires, whether it be articles, presentations, etc.

Here’s a graph using Ngram Viewer for the popularity of the term “brewing beer” over the last 200 years.

Truly Remarkable!

It can also be a useful way to discover unique data for historic literature. 

So if you’re working on a research project, it can be fascinating to see the interest of novels and such fluctuate over time and see the contrast in opinions over the centuries.

Conclusion:

By this point you should be well versed in the ins and outs of Google Trends, as well as a few ways to aid in accomplishing your SEO goals with it.

It is a powerful tool that should be in every web marketer’s toolkit.

Good luck and stay away from the wild goose chases!

using google trends