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How To Use Google Trends For Keyword Research: 7 Effective Ways
That's why we decided to publish a post about Google Trends.
In this post, we're going to cover some cool ways you can use Google Trends to help you with your keyword research and content marketing strategy.
But first, let's get to the bottom of what Google Trends is (and what isn't).
Here's everything you need to know about Google Trends (and how it works)…
When I started this post, I noticed that there was quite a bit of confusion about Google Trends data on the internet. Many think that the trend curve is the direct representation of the search volume of the respective keyword (as with the Google Keyword Planner).
This is not all, how it works.
Let me show you the trend graphs for the keyword “flowers” in Google Trends and in the Google Keyword Planner:
As you can see, these look quite similar but are not identical.
While the Google Keyword Planner shows the absolute search volume, Google Trends shows one relative popularity for a search term. Here is the explanation from the Google Trends Help Center:
Trends adjusts search data to make it easier to compare terms. Each data point is divided by the total local search amount and time period it represents to compare relative popularity.
In other words, relative popularity is the ratio of the search volume of a term to the sum of the search volume of all possible terms.
The resulting numbers are then weighted on a scale from 0 to 100 based on the proportionality of a topic to all searches.
Trends eliminates repeated searches from the same person over a short period of time to give you a better picture. It's also important to note that Trends only shows data for popular terms (low volumes appear as 0).
Here is the Google Trends graph for the term “Facebook” over the past 12 months (in the US):
To show you how Google Trends builds its “Interest Over Time” graph, I pretend I have the same data that Google has. (Unfortunately, I don't really have them.)
The numbers I'll use below are in no way correct. They are just a guess to show how things work.
guess 1: The total number of monthly Google searches in the US is approximately 10 billion (source)
guess 2: The search volume for the term “Facebook” in the US is 83 million (according to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer)
Here is the table I created for this simulation:
To create a graph in the same way as Google Trends, you need to do the following:
- Calculate the relative popularity as the relation of the search volume of the term to the total number of search queries.
- Scale these values proportionally so that the maximum value is 100.
- Put the points on the graph.
Popularity / month
This example leads to two important conclusions:
- The popularity of a search term changes when the search volume of the term changes (see May 2017 - June 2017). It's very obvious, isn't it?
- The popularity of a search term will also change as the total number of searches changes, even if the search volume of the term remains constant (see June 2017 - July 2017 in my example above).
Now you can see that the popularity used in Google Trends does not always correlate with the search volume of the term. But for the most part it does.
For example, if you take the keyword “Star Wars” you will find that the same peak (December 2015) in Google Trendsand Ahrefs Keywords Explorer occurs.
This is the case even though the Keywords Explorer shows the search volume trend while Google Trends shows the “popularity” trend (as described above).
Now let me show you how you can (and should) use Google Trends in your online marketing activities, especially with keyword research.
Do you prefer a video? Look here.
1. Identify seasonal trends ... and create (and promote) content at the RIGHT time!
You are probably aware that seasonality affects search volumes for some keywords.
For example, look at Google Trends data for the keyword “umbrella” in the US.
And here is the same trend in Australia:
As you can see, the term “umbrella” is most popular in the US in June, while in Australia the peak falls in December. These are the months when the rainy season starts in these countries and people realize they don't want to get wet.
So if your company is seasonally dependent, you can quickly estimate its utilization peaks and slacks by analyzing the relevant search terms in Google Trends.
You can then use this data in two ways:
- Create relevant content to be present with the Peak: For example, if you live in Australia and sell umbrellas, it may make sense to create a “rainy season preparation guide” and publish it in December. Ultimately, that's when your potential customers are most likely to be looking for this information.
- Start optimizing existing, relevant pages before the peak (s): Suppose you already have a “rainy season prep guide” or even an ecommerce site that sells umbrellas. In this case, it would make sense to prioritize the optimization of these pages a few months before the peak (e.g. 2-3 months before December if you are in Australia). For example, you could start a link building campaign in October - this will likely result in getting a small ranking boost before the peak of searches.
2. AVOID “keyword outliers” by examining data-distorting popularity spikes
If you're trying to find a good topic for your next piece of content, don't write anything until you've checked the topic on Google Trends.
You don't want to waste time creating content that is no longer in demand.
For example, according to Ahrefs ’Keywords Explorer, the term“ Fidget Spinner ”has an average monthly search volume of 900K +.
But the term “yoyo” only has an average of 47K searches per month.
Since both keywords have similar Keyword Difficulty (KD), it would make a lot more sense to create content on “Fidget Spinner”, right?
Here's a comparison of both terms in Google Trends.
As you can see, there was a massive spike in the popularity of "Fidget Spinner" in May 2017.
But the interest has always decreased massively - it is now almost at zero.
The interest in yoyos, on the other hand, remains unbroken (I love yoyos).
If you look closely, “yoyo” has become an even more popular term than “fidget spinner”.
3. Find relevant topics that are trending NOW ... then take advantage of them
Search Query Trends lets you find searches that have seen significant increases in popularity over the past 24 hours (in any location).
But why would you want to do that?
Well, let's say you have a blog about celebrities.
You see trends in search queries on 4th of March 2018 and see the following:
Obviously the Oscars are trending!
But does the fact that this topic is currently trending means that you are already too late?
Here is the search trend graph for the term “Oscars” over seven days from March 2nd - March 9th:
As you can see, March 4th - the day the topic trended on Google Trends - was not the peak; March 5th was the peak.
The descent came on March 6th.
That is, while the possible optimization period here may be small, you can see it gives still a possibility.
However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes Google Trends raises the trending topic the day where it is most popular.
For example, the term "Mother's Day" wasn't a trending search until March 11th.
But since March 11th, Mother's Day was (at least here in the UK), interest immediately waned the next day.
In this example, you would have been late, unless you had already prepared content related to Mother's Day in advance.
But how do you find out whether a trending term has already peaked or not?
Well, if it's a term that's probably most popular at the same time each year, look at when the peak was last year.
For example, Mother's Day fell on March 23rd in 2017. Again, that's the day the peak was.
By looking at historical data, you can predict whether interest in a trending topic is likely to decrease or increase.
4. Use Google Trends data to plan your content calendar
Wait a moment!
Let's take a closer look at the Google Trends data on the term “Oscars”.
If we look at a period of 5 years, we see that the peak occurs at about the same time each year; at the beginning of March.
The reason for this is that the Oscars are held in March every year.
If your website is about celebrity gossip, you should probably make a note of this in your content calendar.
You can then make sure to produce content on these topics every March.
(I know what you're thinking. ... that's a pretty obvious example, isn't it? I mean, if you run a website about celebrities, you probably have that on your mind.)
Here is a less obvious example:
Here you can see a peak that only occurs about once a month.
Can you guess what search term it is?
But how would you align your content calendar with it? Surely it wouldn't make sense to have a new article about full moons every month, right?
Exactly, but you could create ONE article and then update it with new information every month. 🙂
That is exactly what Space.com does with its full moon calendar.
All you have to do is add new facts and figures every month.
It probably doesn't take a lot of effort, but it will result in permanently updated content.
Do you want to see an even less obvious example?
Check the Google Trends data for "creepy outfit."
There is a spike in searches every year around October e.g. Halloween.
What is my recommendation for this case?
Post the “Top XX Scariest Halloween Outfits 20XX” every year in mid-October. (Or update your existing article from last year.)
Simple but effective. 🙂
5. Use “related search queries” to find NEW keyword ideas (AND even STEAL market share of your competitors in the process)
Google Trends can show you searches that people also look for when they search for your term.
For example, people who search for “sneakers” often search for “Nike” and “Adidas”.
Not only does this provide a great way to find more keywords (including those you may not have heard of), it also helps you better understand the problems and customer journey of your potential customers.
But you can even go a step further and do related searches For find related searches.
For example, here are related searches for “Sneakers Nike” (as an example, one of the related searches from our previous search).
But don't stop there.
You can use the terms suggested by Google Trends as seed keywords in Keyword Explorer. That gives you even more keyword ideas.
There you can use search filters based on search volume and keyword difficulty (KD) to find the right gold nuggets.
People are likely Googleing your business.
But which of your competitors are you also looking for?
Here's how to find out:
Enter your company name on Google Trends and look at the related searches.
Here are the related search terms for the term "Ahrefs".
Looks like we are looking for three of our competitors as well.
These people are likely potential Ahrefs customers who are still evaluating their options.
It would therefore probably make a lot of sense to give these people information that Ahrefs has an advantage over the competition.
We could do that through some “Ahrefs vs. Competitor” articles (e.g. “Ahrefs vs. Moz”).
In fact, we plan to create such sites in the future. At the moment we are only busy with other, more important things.
Here is an example of such a page from Asana.
6. Look EXACTLY which cities and regions NEED your products or services (then address them laser-precisely with your SEO strategy)
Google Trends shows you where a search term (e.g. country, city, state) is most popular.
This can answer a basic question: Where are your products or services most needed?
Let's see where space heaters are most needed in the US.
The northern states, which is pretty obvious.
How about a view broken down to the city level? Google Trends can do that.
(Anyone from Portland? What's the weather like?)
But how can you use this data?
Here are just a few ideas:
- Control these regions with PPC (e.g. AdWords) - Don't waste money playing ads across the United States. Only run Google AdWords for the cities or regions where your potential customers are.
- Create useful content specifically geared towards residents of these areas - e.g., "Do you live in seattle So you can save money and reduce your heating bill in winter ”.
Google Trends also lets you compare how interest in certain search terms differs in different places. (To my shame, I only discovered this feature a few days ago.)
To do that, click “More” on the right side of one of the search boxes and set the relevant filters:
In the screenshot below you can see a perfect example of the “popularity principle” in Google Trends:
The search volume of “Star Wars” is obviously much larger in the US than in the UK. But the graphs are almost identical. This means that Star Wars is correspondingly popular in both countries.
Imagine you're an accountant from Florida.
How do you know, Where your services are most needed?
It is easy. Search for “Accountant” in Google Trends, filter by state, then select “Interest by metropolis”.
(You can also see “Interest by City” for a more granular view.)
Now that you know where your services are most needed, you can prioritize this data for your local SEO activities. For example, you could choose to target residents of Miami or Gainesville with landing pages.
You could even use this data to make plans to expand your business — they are so precious.
7. Refine your video SEO strategy by analyzing WHAT people are looking for on YouTube
YouTube is owned by Google, but that doesn't mean that its popularity is evenly distributed between the two search engines. It is not so.
To illustrate this, here is the Google Trends data for “HTML Tutorial” since 2008.
As you can see quite clearly, the popularity of this term has steadily decreased.
But here is the trend for YouTube.
(Yes, Google Trends lets you filter for YouTube trends - just select “YouTube Search” from the drop down menu)
Interestingly, what we find here is the opposite — popularity on YouTube is increasing.
It looks like people are increasingly going to YouTube to consume their HTML tutorials.
So it would make sense to create a YouTube video to try and rank for this term.
It makes perfect sense that people would search YouTube rather than Google for terms like “HTML tutorial”.
But in some cases you will question the validity of this data.
A second way to check that the searchers actually prefer videos to written content, insert your term in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer. Then check the SERP overview.
If you see any video results ranking in Google, chances are that Google has identified that searchers want to see video results on that topic.
So you can be sure that there is a sufficient search volume on YouTube for this term.
Google Trends wasn't made for content marketing or SEO experts. But you can see that it can be of great help. Surely there are other tools out there that are solely geared towards content marketing and keyword research. However, you won't find any of the features specific to Google Trends in any other tool.
And of course, no other tool gives you the latest data on what just now trending.
Do you use Google Trends for your marketing? I look forward to your tips and tricks.
Translated by: Sebastian Simon. Sebastian Simon has been involved with SEO since 2009, currently at seven-bytes.de and heine.de.
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