Google Trends is a powerful platform often underutilised by search marketers. However, using Google Trends for SEO is a must if you are to plug into the topics that matter to your target customer.
In this blog post, we’ll cover seven game-changing ways to amplify your search marketing strategy by using Google Trends.
What is Google Trends?
As Google puts it, the trends feature allows you to “explore how the world is searching”.
Regularly misunderstood as just another way to discover search volumes for specific search terms, the helpful tool actually collects data on how often a search term is entered into Google’s search engine relative to a website’s entire search volume over a selected period of time. Not only does Google Trends provide the search volume index of keyword data, alongside its geographical location, it aggregates the data to inform how data trends develop over time.
How does Google Trends Work?
Google Trends taps into real life searches made in the engine to build a sample of data. The data is aggregated, normalised and then categorised. It is the categorisation process that determines the topics that a user can search by. Each topic can also be drilled down by geographical location from any country in the world, right down to your local city.
Each data point is divided by the total number of searches of each location and the time period that is represented so the relative popularity can be compared. This is to prevent the cities and countries with bigger search volumes to automatically be ranked highest. This process therefore provides a more holistic view of the data.
It’s important to remember that a geographical location may show the same level of interest for a specific data trend but that doesn’t mean each of those locations have exactly the same search volumes.
How to Use Google Trends
Despite a complex data collect and normalisation process, using Google Trends couldn’t be simpler! It’s also free which means you can have access to really valuable search trends without spending a penny.
All you have to do is search Google Trends, click through to their Google Trends data dashboard and enter a search term or topic to get started. Make sure you set the desired location from the dropdown in the top right corner and either start with an example from Google or jump right in to find trending data around the topics that matter to you.
All of the Google Trends data that is shared with us can be utilised in so many different ways. For search marketers, it’s a goldmine that can really underpin how we tailor our search strategy for clients.
So, with that being said, here are seven ways to use Google Trends for SEO and supercharge your search strategy:
- Find related search terms and topics
When you search for your chosen keyword or topic, the Google Trends data is presented alongside a list of additional terms and topics that Google considers as closely related to your initial search.
Although Google keyword planner also brings up related terms when you have entered in a search, there is crucial difference. Google keyword planner data is based on absolute historical search volume data, whereas this Google Trends feature offers up keywords that are growing in relative popularity right now. This small but significantly different approach to the data will help you build an SEO strategy that caters to the searches people are looking for today, tomorrow and beyond.
A Google Trends analysis comes into play here as Google provides you with a list sorted by popularity, with a percentage alongside each query to quantify the rising search volume. On occasion, the percentage is replaced with the word “breakout” which means that the rising search volume has grown by over 5000%.
The ‘breakout’ queries are the terms to take seriously and analyse whether they will work for your client. That’s because if they are identified early enough and used correctly as part of your SEO strategy, they will not be competitive yet. This gives you the perfect opportunity to capture the number 1 ranking position on Google’s SERP before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.
The one thing to remember here is that (as many trends fall victim to), they can fade out as quickly as they rose to fame. This is something search marketers must monitor closely to make sure they are not building evergreen content on reactive search queries that realistically are just a ‘fad’.
- Gain a competitive advantage
You can also use Google Trends to keep an eye on the competition and conduct a like-for-like comparison of data.
There are two ways to do this, firstly you can type in your brand and discover the Google Trends data attached to your brand only. You can then take a look at related queries underneath and see if people who are searching for your brand are also searching for your competition.
As a business, you will have a good idea of who your competitors are. However, this helpful feature confirms who is your direct competition according to people that matter the most – your target audience.
This type of audience could be defined as users who are still considering their options before committing to a purchase. You can therefore gain a competitive advantage here by creating content that educates and informs the reader how you compare with (and supersede) the competition.
Secondly, you can compare your brand with your competition by simply clicking ‘compare’ once you have searched for your brand term.
For example, let’s look at Hello Fresh. Their brand visibility has grown exponentially as a result of their brand building activity combined with the environmental factors surrounding the multiple lockdowns we’ve faced over the last year:
Now you can add the competition with the +compare functionality:
You are now left with a competitor dashboard that can help you determine your place in Google, alongside the competition.
You can undertake a deeper level of Google trends analysis and uncover a number of helpful insights and opportunities to gain the competitive advantage:
Examine if your competitor’s brand is following the same growth trend as your brand, holistically, is their brand increasing or declining over a longer time period?
Scrutinise your own brand growth pattern. Has your brand visibility remained flat over the last few years, or worse, declined? If so, something urgently needs to be done to rectify the fall in brand visibility.
You can see how popular your brand is different sub-regions or drill down to city level to determine whether you need to adopt a localised strategy for a poor performing area:
You can also dissect the data into different areas of search:
Using the dropdown menu above, you can investigate whether your competitor is stronger in image search, or they have adapted a better Google Shopping strategy, or they may have even benefitted from a couple of trending news stories. You can gather data from all aspects of Google search to build up a picture of how your competitor’s brand growth was activated and adopt your own strategy to react to it.
- Don’t ignore the trending data at a glance
It sounds obvious but sometimes the best information is right in front of your face.
The trending searches area in the menu to the left has a treasure trove of insights to get started. From here, you can filter down to daily search trends and even real-time search trends to see what people are searching for right at this very minute:
This part of the platform is ideal for learning about what everyone’s talking about in the UK. You could integrate this into your link building strategy and jump on the hottest topics, adding expertise, comment and valuable insight to plug into the right conversations that will get your brand noticed.
You can also utilise the ‘year in search’ feature to look back and see what was trending across previous years:
Aside from it just being really interesting, you can really get a grasp here of what topics stuck around and which topics have already faded out into obscurity.
- Incorporate seasonality into your strategy
Trending data and seasonality go hand in hand and it’s hard to ignore the seasonal patterns with every search.
Let’s assess another example, “Microsoft teams”:
During 2020 we can see a massive spike in interest, tied directly with the ‘work from home’ initiative set by the Government in March 2020. This has continued to fluctuate throughout the past year but remained high.
Looking further into related topics, you can see a couple of competitors crop up alongside the related topic areas that branch off from this general search:
This type of information is invaluable to learn about a customer journey online, who they are comparing you against and what specific areas they want to know more about before committing to a sale.
Seasonality is also a great learning tool when creating content calendars for clients. A successful SEO strategy must lay the right foundations with optimised content for a chosen topic a minimum of three months prior to its peak popularity period. It takes time for Google to understand the intent and value of a piece of content and search marketers must allow as much time as possible to help the content to ‘bed in’ with search.
- Utilise local SEO opportunities
With any Google Trends analysis, it’s always a good idea to factor in location and see how your terms perform in various regions and cities throughout your chosen country. The importance of local SEO is something we have talked about in detail before and with “46% of searches on Google having local intent” it’s something search marketers can’t ignore.
To develop laser-sharp targeting in your SEO strategy, simply use location filtering to refine your focus in the geographical areas with the highest demand and interest for your products or services.
For example, let’s pretend you’re a solicitors firm and you want to branch out into a network of offices around the UK. This simple search will help you to understand where your services are needed the most.
Just search “solicitor” in Google Trends and take a look at the city-level breakdown:
Now that you have a clearer picture of where your services could have the biggest impact, you can use this data to produce a targeted local SEO strategy and create tailored landing pages which speaks directly to the people of Belfast, Ilford and Wythenshawe for example.
But how else can you use this data intelligently?
Here’s a couple of other ways to utilise the local SEO opportunities on offer:
- Create useful, regional-centric content that taps into events, news and valuable information aimed specifically for your localised customer. E.g. “House Prices are Skyrocketing in Wythenshawe this Spring. Read our 7 Best Practices for a Stress-Free House Move”.
- You can also target your chosen regions or cities with a sophisticated AdWords campaign. Help reduce wasted spend on areas where there is little interest in your services or products and instead, just run the ads in the places where your potential customers need you.
- Push Google Shopping at peak times
You can use the Google Shopping search filter to get the most from your Google Shopping activity and determine the peak times to push your advertising.
For example, a retailer may want to push a new range of garden chairs but also wants to make sure they are investing their Google spend at the most popular times. Simply search “garden chairs”, filter by Google Shopping, extend the time period to the last five years and review the data below:
You can see quite clearly here that the Google Shopping activity has followed a relatively stable pattern over the past five years (with the exception of last year when all we could do was sit in our gardens so activity spiked even further).
We can conclude here that Google Shopping activity starts to build at the beginning of April and tail off towards the end of September. It seems like common sense, right? Nice weather = more searches for garden furniture. However what’s interesting is that pre-pandemic, there was a mid-summer dip as people were more interested in flying off on holiday, rather than sitting in their gardens. This is something retailers may have to factor in to their Google Shopping activity once holidays resume.
- Optimise your video content
Many marketers don’t associate Google Trends with video content as it is typically used to improve website performance. However, there are some clever ways to use Google Trends data to optimise your video content too.
Let’s start with a generic search for “hairstyles” on YouTube. A clear pattern emerged in the video results:
“Easy” seemed to crop up time and time again and was strongly associated with the search. So, let’s start with that search term in Google Trends:
We have pulled the data from the last five years to get a more accurate picture of the trends emerging and can see that there are clear spikes in July, August and September – which makes sense as users are often looking for fancy hairstyles for an upcoming wedding or summer event (of which many didn’t end up happening in 2020).
The best way to capitalise on this as a business is to not only post at the most popular times (around spring/summer) but also set up an email campaign and send it out again just before those reoccurring spikes to boost the videos popularity even further. In a similar way to republishing content, re-promoting your blog provides an added benefit of freshness with the advantage of your video already having some history in the search results.
Google Trends wasn’t designed for SEO, but marketers can utilise the data to really up their game in search. The platform is more valuable than ever as we endeavour to humanise our content and speak to our target customers about the topics which matter to them.
From gaining a competitive advantage to uncovering local SEO opportunities, using Google Trends can give you the insights you need to help your business be seen and get found online.
Contact our expert team and find out how we can do the hard work for you and help your website be visible online. For more knowledge, opinions and insights from the people behind our screens, head to our blog and digest the latest from digital.