How to Use Google Trends: 7 Amazing Hacks for Digital Marketers

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How to Use Google Trends
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Believe the saying, “Content is King?” 

Well, that depends on what topic you’re writing about - per time, right? Let’s find out together!

First off, you should know that Google Trends isn’t your average SEO tool. And yet, it is one tool most online entrepreneurs underutilize the most.

But, wait…

You have to know what something is first before finding out if you’re underutilizing it, yeah? Right!

So, what exactly is Google Trends?

Google Trends is an SEO tool that lets you compare the popularity of search terms and trends. Put another way, it lets you gain insight into the hottest search trends of the moment as well as those developing in popularity [rising stars if you will] over time.

Before we dig deep into how to use Google Trends, here are 3 things to keep in mind:

#1: Google Trends are used primarily for keyword research and content marketing strategy

#2: Google Trends is not the same as Google Keyword Planner:

[While Google Trends feature the relative popularity of a search term, Google Keyword Planner just shows the overall search volume data, as is].

#3: Google Trends is absolutely FREE to use

Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner in action for the keyword, “flowers” respectively…

Results for flowers search on Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner

You see, volume [Google Keyword Planner] vs popularity [Google Trends] - needs some more clarification because they aren’t one and the same. 

Okay…imagine a room containing 11 people where the president gets 10 points each time he raises up his hands versus floor members whose vote = 1 point.

If only the president raises up his hands in favor of publishing a particular content and a graph is plotted, GKP interprets that as 10 votes while GT shows it as just 1 vote.

Our take? We think being able to eliminate repeated searches, say from the same person over a short period gives you way better picture of which keyword to go for, for better results.

So, back to how to use Google Trends exactly? Below are 7 solid ways… 

#1: Be in the know of seasonal trends so you can create and publish the right content at the right time

Is it a great idea selling umbrellas to people experiencing cold in their homes? Nah! So, use Google Trends to find out what ideas are trending in season - and target content accordingly.

Take a quick look at the Google Trends data for the keyword, “Umbrella” in the United States…

Google Trends data for the keyword, “Umbrella” in the United States

You will notice there was a sharp spike around the time Rihanna released the song, ‘Umbrella,’ but the real data to focus on here is the peak for the search term which occurred in June, representing the beginning of rainy season in the US. 

Below is a similar trend in Australia…

Google trends data for "wet season" in Australia

Here, you’ll notice peak falls in December, representing the entry of the rainy season when people are most interested in searching/shopping for Umbrellas – so they don’t get caught up in the middle of rain - unprepared.

So, how should you use this data in your overall content marketing strategy?

  1. Create and publish relevant content in their peak periods

If you sell Umbrellas and are targeting prospects in the US, the smart thing to do is produce a “how not to get wet this season” guide and publish it in June.

It makes sense because this coincides with when the majority of your target market will be on the lookout for such information.

  1. Optimize existing content just before the peak periods

Let’s say the peak period has passed for the US market and December is approaching when the search keyword peaks for “Umbrellas” in Australia.  A great strategy would be to begin revisiting relevant posts or product pages and retargeting it at the Australian market a few months before December.

#2: Look out for trending topics to cover

There’s so much value in covering current content. Your target audiences are fully informed, engaged and begin depending on you for staying in the loop.

So, how do you find relevant content that attracts, engages and converts prospects? 

Well, if you’re trying to research a great topic for your next content piece, then go to Google Trends first before doing anything else. Why? It’s a bad idea crafting content for topics going out of ‘style.’

To find trending topics, make use of Google Trend’s ‘trending search’ tool to know the popular search-term people have used within the last 24 hours, all the way down to the category they fall into [e.g., Entertainment, Science & Tech, Business], including Top Stories…

A screenshot of real time search trends in Google trends

Beware: There’s usually a lot of stories around trending topics, so standing out with your content piece may require going at things from a unique perspective different from popular opinion – to earn those coveted, organic traffic from target audiences.  

#3: Check to make sure popularity spikes aren’t skewing keyword data

Here’s what we mean…

Case in point: In 1985, the average starting salary for Geography majors at UNC [University of North Carolina] was above $100K. Awesome, right? Hang on…

The missing piece is that Michael Jordan was a Geography major at same school before going on to join the Chicago Bulls and signing a contract worth…$1m a year.

Now, if you take Jordan out of the picture, what do you think the new yearly average was? Just around $25K!

Take home? Popularity spikes can skew keyword data like you’ve just seen above which can easily screw up your content marketing strategy. So, keywords with high monthly searches needs a second look to be sure trend is steady or increasing over time.

#4: Plan your content calendar ahead using Google Trends data

How? 

Say you’re checking Google Trends data for the search term, “Oscars.”

From the image below, we see that the term peaks at about the same time within a 5-year period [aka the beginning of March]…

A screenshot of Google trends interest overtime

Why? Well, that’s because the Oscars happen every March.

So, assuming your site creates content around trending celebrities, you might want to make a note on your calendar to publish relevant content around these dates, for maximum exposure and traffic.

#5: Determine demand for your product or services by location

Let’s face it: Your product or service won’t appeal to everyone. 

Good news is you don’t need everyone to succeed – just enough would do, right? Yeah. Often times, those who need what you sell are scattered around certain regions, cities, and metropolitan areas, requiring you to discover them.

Say you sell outerwear, a quick search of the popularity of the keyword, “winter jackets” in a specific region, city and metropolitan area over a specific time will give you valuable insight into particular audiences to target…

Google trends data for "Winter Jackets"

And…once you know the locations where your keyword is a lot more popular, it’s easier to optimize keywords in your content for specific audiences at peak periods.

#6: Use ‘related queries’ to track prospects’ search journey

One great thing about Google Trends is - it can reveal other queries people search for while searching for a specific term.

For instance, people who search for ‘sneakers’ tend to search for ‘Nike’ and ‘Adidas’…

Google trend related search results for 'sneakers Nike'

This discovery helps boost your ‘keyword bank’ as well as help you better understand your potential customer’s needs and search journey. 

Another smart thing to do is find the related searches for the related searches. So, focusing your searchlight deeper on say, ‘sneakers Nike’ reveals the following…

Google trends results for related queries

Also, you can use related queries to spy on your competitors so you beat them hands down.  A quick search of Ahrefs on Google Trends for instance reveals its competitors…

Related queries for Ahrefs search on Google trends

And…armed with this information, you can research the competition, spy on their strengths and weaknesses, and then do a ‘You vs Them’ content piece that highlights how your solution beats theirs.

#7: Gauge if your message is better delivered via video

Sometimes…that a Keyword’s popularity dips on web search doesn’t mean you should trash it. 

In fact, it’s not uncommon to find a keyword that has ‘lost face’ on web search gaining popularity on YouTube search.

Take the keyword, “content marketing” for instance. You’ll notice from the graph below that its popularity on Google search waned over the past year…

A screenshot of Google Trends results for 'Content Marketing'

But plugging the same search term into Google Trends for YouTube search shows its popularity climbed over the past year…

A screenshot of Google Trends results for 'Content Marketing' on Youtube

Take home? Well, sometimes, keywords don’t lose popularity, they simply shift from one medium [e.g. Google] to the other [e.g. YouTube].

Parting Words

Google Trends is your go-to while doing keyword research or looking to beat the competition with superior, in-demand content. It’s a fantastic tool that gives you the freshest, most potent data on what’s trending in search…right now.

Our final advice? Ignore this magic tool at your own peril!

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