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. In this article, we take a more in-depth look at this underutilised tool and some advanced tips for getting stronger insights.
Here’s what we’ll be covering today:
- What is Google Trends
- How to use Google Trends for keyword research
- How to use Google Trends for content marketing
- How to use Google Trends to find products to sell
- 8 advanced tips for getting deeper insights from Google Trends
- Using a Google Trends API
What is Google Trends?
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.
How to use Google Trends to find keywords
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.
How to use Google Trends for content marketing
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.
How to use Google Trends to find products to sell
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.
How to use Google Trends for advanced insights
Now let’s take a look at some of the more advanced ways you can use Google Trends to get advanced SEO insights.
1. Track downward trends
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.
2. Comparing niches, related trends
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?
3. Compare your demand with a competitor
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.
4. Find out which questions are the most popular
By querying Google Trends for single question words, you can get an idea for which words appear more frequently in searches.
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’.
5. Find peak seasonal periods
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 seasonal pattern.
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.
6. Compare demand in different countries
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’.
7. Find out when searchers start browsing
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.
8. Track behavioural change
Retailers take note – customers no longer want fast delivery, they want same day delivery. Where will it go from here?
Is there a Google Trends API?
As things stand, there’s no official Google Trends API but there are numerous third-party options that allow you to pull Google Trends data into your own applications. This is precisely what we’ve done with our software, Apollo Insights.
The API allows us to 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.
Are you making the most of Google Trends?
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.