What is Google Trends, and Can I Use it To Find Keywords?

Google Trends is an invaluable tool to help you stay informed and make data-driven decisions – the key to any good marketing strategy. Google Trends is a free tool from Google that allows you to uncover what topics people are searching for, whether specific search trends are going up or down, and other helpful marketing analytics that can influence your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) campaign. In this article, we’ll explain how to use Google Trends and give practical examples of how to leverage it.

Benefits of Using Google Trends

Thanks to Google, we can access an outstanding wealth of information at our fingertips. Our reliance on Google search plays a huge role in what information we see and the decisions we make – including our purchases. Long gone are the days of flipping through a hefty, alphabetized Yellow Pages book to find a plumber and picking the first one that starts with “A.”

Now, we’re much more likely to turn to Google and trust its algorithm to show us exactly what we’re looking for based on our search query. This makes understanding how people use Google and how to leverage that information a crucial marketing tactic for businesses today. Additionally, content creators can use it to find keywords and keep their finger on the pulse of what their audience is interested in. Journalists can use it to get real-time information about public interest. Here are some of the primary ways you can use Google Trends to tailor your marketing strategy and improve your content’s SEO:

Identifying Currently Trending Topics

You can see what searches are trending at the moment under the Google Trends ‘Explore’ page. While most of the top results are often major world events or celebrity news that might be hard to tie into your topic, the key is to look out for specific niches that relate to your business that are buzz-worthy at the moment or upcoming holidays and events local to you. This means Google Trends can help you find related and unique angles to write about that might not have a lot of keyword competition yet, plan out your content marketing strategy or ensure your content’s current relevancy.

For example, at the time of writing, the national mental health initiative R U OK Day is currently trending in Australia. Now would be the perfect time to publish a blog post about how your business looks after your employees’ mental health and what the day means to you.

This is a broad example. You can also use Google Trends to find trending search terms and topics related to your specific industry or niche. Relevant trending topics and related queries can help you better understand what your target market is looking for and adjust your marketing accordingly. For example, if you own a women’s apparel brand, you can type “women’s fashion” on the Google Trends Explore page to see currently trending related topics.

These five topics are currently breakout keywords related to women’s clothing. Breakout terms mean that Google doesn’t have enough data yet to give a before and after percentage of the search volume but that there’s been a 5000% rise in search interest recently. This makes them ideal keywords to use: they don’t have a large amount of competition yet, meaning it’ll be much easier to get a foothold and rank on Google. Now would be a perfect time for the hypothetical fashion brand to write a blog post entitled ‘Top 5 Suits for Spring,’ or advertise a promotion for sandals.

The downside of using breakout topics and queries as a keyword tool is many of the terms might just be fads and won’t benefit you long-term. A fad might be worth making a social media post about, whereas a truly powerful keyword with staying power is worth incorporating into your long-term strategy. This is where Google Trends differentiates from traditional keyword research tools: it shows you snapshots of what people are typing in Google’s search bar during a specific moment in time, not the total searches overall. However, tending terms and trending topics can help content marketers inform their decision-making as part of a larger keyword strategy.

Identifying Seasonal Trends

Google Trends is also helpful for finding seasonal trends and the right time to capitalise on them. Let’s say you run a clothing business that sells Halloween costumes. You might think mid-October is the right time to publish ads or run a pay-per-click campaign. However, you can use Google Trends to see that people start searching for Halloween costumes as early as the start of September, with a sharp upward trend until the 30th of October. This serves as an indicator you probably want to get a head start on your marketing earlier rather than later to capitalise on the seasonal trend. 

A flower shop would want to do the same thing around Mother’s Day with the keyword ‘florist near me’. Almost every business has seasonal trends and annual holidays that will result in a spike in traffic with the right marketing, and Google Trends can help. To narrow it down to seasonal search trends that are specific to your location, you can change the subregion to your state or city. This means you can plan to target the right keywords for your location at just the right time. This is particularly useful for smaller local businesses.

Identifying seasonal spikes in business 

Google Trends can be used as one data set to influence business decisions—for example, most cafés close for a week or two over the Christmas to New Year period. However, Google Trends shows that the search query ‘cafés near me’ has an annual spike in searches in late December and early January. This indicates a high demand for cafés that are still open during the festive season, and it might be worthwhile staying open as much as possible during this period to make the most of the demand. To see long-term data like this, you’ll want to set your date range to the “past 5 years” timeframe.

Monitor Your Competitors and Market Trends

You can also use Google Trends data to see how successful your organic marketing efforts are compared to your main competitors. To do this, go to the Google Trends Explore Page and put in your business name, then your competitors in the ‘compare’ box, and you’ll see how the search volume is trending for both. While this doesn’t provide a complete picture of how two businesses stack up against each other, it is a useful tool if you want to check how your marketing campaign is performing. If your competitor had a large increase in search volume during a specific period, you might want to check what marketing and promotions they were running at the time to get a better understanding of what works.

You can compare two search terms in Google Trends or as many as 25. Here’s how it looks, using some tech titans in the mobile phone industry (past and present) as an example:

Comparing search results also allows you to make informed decisions about which products or services you market and when, making the most of trends and seasonal fluxes. This allows you to discover what you should market and create content about at any given time based on the data you find in Google Trends. Using the example of women’s apparel business again, here are two items of clothing trends compared with each other:

One of Many Tools in Our Keyword Kit

While Google Trends doesn’t function as a standalone keyword planner, it can complement traditional keyword planners by providing a dynamic, minute-by-minute perspective. If you’re savvy enough to tell the difference between a fad and a search query that will stay on the up and up for a sustained period, Google Trends can provide a great opportunity to get ahead of the game and take advantage of rising keywords before there’s a lot of competition. Where Google Trends really shines is the ability to keep track of seasonal spikes and local trends – an important part of content planning. Digital marketing and SEO is a competitive space,  so using every resource possible – especially the free-to-use ones – can make a real difference to the success of your marketing and help you be one step ahead of competitors. Our article on Digital Marketing for Membership Organisations can also provide valuable insights that can be translated to almost any industry, as well as our article on how to generate organic traffic to your website.

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