A look at some fantastic Google Trends Tips to help you get more from this massively underutilised tool.
Google Trends is a free tool that provides search data for keywords and topics. Unlike the Keyword Planner in Google Ads, this tool allows you to view search volumes by location and view how they’ve changed over time.
So, if you want to see how search volumes for Bitcoin and other crypto currencies compare over the past five years, Google Trends is the tool for you.
That’s the most obvious way to go about using Google Trends but you can get much deeper insights if you know how to find them.
Here’s what we’ll be covering today:
Google Trends is a completely
free tool that shows what people are searching for. Aside from looking at
search volumes for specific keywords and topics, you can compare search volumes
over time, look at geographical volumes, explore related keywords/topics and see
what the most popular search topics are at any given time.
Naturally, this makes it a handy keyword research tool but it’s important to understand the key difference between Google Trends and the Keyword Planner in Google Ads. Google Trends only shows you data for search volumes but the Keyword Planner tells you how much traffic those search terms are actually generating. That’s a crucial difference.
This doesn’t mean the data
available via Google Trends isn’t useful, though. There are multiple ways you
can use this tool to improve your SEO strategy without any technical
understanding of how it works.
The first thing you’ll probably
use Google Trends for is keyword research and the obvious place to start with
the “related queries” tab. Type in your list of keywords and see if anything
new crops up here that could be valuable – couldn’t be much easier.
Next, you can go back to your
list of keywords in Keyword Planner and type them into Google Trends.
This will give you historical
search volumes for each keyword (as far back as 2004) which helps you predict
how much life your keywords have in them. For example, you may have just
started a new campaign and found some great keywords generating loads of
traffic but Google Trends reveals there’s been a sudden spike in interest
recently – a warning sign that interest could also suddenly disappear.
This is very common with
seasonal trends or searches related to major news events.
One of Google Trends’ biggest
strengths is that it gives you real-time data on what people are searching for right now. From a content marketing
perspective, this is an invaluable tool for generating new content ideas
because it shows you what people are actually looking for. It also keeps you in
the loop on the most current talking points and interests in your industry –
all for free.
Taking things further, you can
compare search volumes to results pages to pinpoint popular searches lacking
relevant or quality content. These are major content opportunities you can
capitalise on. For sudden spikes in interest, you can aim to be the first brand
to provide this content and introduce yourself to new audiences. Likewise, you
can look at historical data to pinpoint evergreen content opportunities that
haven’t been snapped up yet.
If you’re looking to start an eCommerce venture, expand your range of products or discover new affiliate opportunities, Google Trends can help once again. You can type in specific product types to get historical search data and distinguish between products that will be steady sellers and hot new products that’ll bring in a lot of profit over a shorter period of time.
For a lot of retailers, staying
on top of the latest trends is crucial for maintaining sales and you can also
use this data to determine which products should feature most prominently on
your homepage, landing pages and email newsletters.
Aside from discovering new products, keeping on top of search trends may also help you pinpoint when interest in certain products is fading so you can reduce future orders or drop products altogether.
Now let’s take a look at some of the more advanced ways you can use Google Trends to get advanced SEO insights.
This graph shows the decline in
UK search demand for the phrase cheap flights. This may reflect falling overall
demand, but it could also mean the audience now has ways of finding cheap
flights other than organic search.
Remember, the trend graph is not
an exact match for search volume. It is a score out of 100, showing demand
relative to a peak.
This graph clearly shows that
the demand level for ‘cheap flights’ has declined rapidly. Thinking about it,
this makes sense. We now have access to smartphone apps from airlines and other
travel companies, so we are less likely to search for cheap flights.
Also, since Google launched its Flights service, and with people
using more long-tail questions, we no longer need to search for cheap flights
on Google. We can just select the airports and hit go.
This graph shows the search
demand over time for yoga versus aerobics. Probably no surprise that aerobics,
which was big in the 80s, has low demand compared with yoga, whose popularity
is still growing.
Think about how many movies and
TV programmes feature someone going to or talking about yoga. How often do
people talk about doing aerobics these days?
There is a clear upward demand
for brand searches for Slimming World, compared with a general decline for
Weight Watchers – suggesting contrasting fortunes for each of the brands.
You can do the same thing, comparing your brand name with the brand names of your competitor. See whose name has the highest demand. Bear in mind though that any brand name that is also a generic phrase is likely to have a false graph.
By querying Google Trends for
single question words, you can get an idea for which words appear more frequently
As the graph below shows (for UK traffic), ‘how’ questions out-rank all others, with ‘what’ coming a clear second.
This kind of information can
help you with your content planning. Users are more likely to search ‘how to
change a lightbulb’ than ‘why to change a lightbulb’.
Google Trends is great for
spotting seasonal trends. For example, in the graph below, we can see the
seasonal peaks over five years for the phrase ‘Christmas party venues London’.
A few years ago, the peak demand
was in November, but this has now come forward to October, which means all the
good London venues are likely to be booked by then.
In this second example, I have compared
the queries ‘wedding venues’ and ‘wedding dresses’.
Now, all year round, people are
planning weddings and there is a wedding fayre taking place once a week
somewhere in the UK. However, this trend graph clearly shows that there is a
Demand drops considerably over
the Christmas period, before hitting the annual peak in the beginning of the
new year. Despite weddings taking place all the time, January seems to be the
time when the majority of people go looking for information.
This kind of information can be
useful in planning a PPC bidding strategy. The same is true in this next
example, which shows demand for Glastonbury Festival.
Each year, when the tickets for
the next year go on sale, people start searching. There are then spikes again
when the line-up is announced, with the peak being when the event takes place.
English language search
behaviour is not universal. In this example, you can see how US and UK
searchers behave in contrasting ways.
The graph on the left is for
US-based search traffic. The graph on the right is UK data. This shows that, in
the UK, hotels should be targeting people looking for dog friendly hotels,
rather than using the phrase ‘pet friendly’.
Using an exact phrase, with
years attached, we can see when demands starts and ends each year. I was
unsurprised to find that people search for a Spanish villa in January, but I
was surprised to find that demand is heavy during the previous August.
This could be people who have
just finished their summer holiday, looking to re-book, or it could be people
who are still on holiday, browsing for next year while they are in the mood to
think about more of the same.
Retailers take note – customers
no longer want fast delivery, they want same day delivery. Where will it go
Yes there is which means you can pull Google Trends data into your own applications. This is precisely what we’ve done with our software, Apollo Insights.
We can integrate Google Trends data into our own analytics suite, compare it with other data sources and feed it into our own machine learning algorithms to deliver a much richer dataset and reach new insights our users won’t be able to find elsewhere – all from a single dashboard.
If you’re not making the most of Google Trends and all of the other free tools Google has to offer, you’re not maximising your search potential. Feel free to tweet us at @VerticalLeap if you have any questions.
Related reading: For some practical examples of how to use Google Trends, check out How to use Google Trends
Tom is a Senior SEO Specialist at Vertical Leap.
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Categories: Data Science, Machine Learning