Understanding what your audience is searching for is key to anticipating your customer’s needs and increasing sales both online and offline. Knowing them upfront allows you to answer questions, have the right information available and gain insight into how your competition is performing. All the building blocks of effective search engine optimization (SEO).
Now, identifying these keywords doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive process. In fact, you can just use Google Trends. While it’s not your typical research tool, it still provides you with useful insights regarding both seasonal and general trends that can be used for ads and copy for your website.
Let’s start with keyword research basics
There is no mystery about how search engines work. The user types in specific questions or requests and the algorithm matches them with the most relevant results possible. Keywords are a crucial piece of this if you aim to get relevant traffic to your website.
You must be aware that the words that you’re using in your titles, meta descriptions, and in all your content matter. They matter to your customers, who are seeking out information, and they matter to search engines, which try to identify the best information to present to users.
There are several factors that you’ll eventually need to tackle to develop an effective SEO strategy. We highly recommend reading the Definitive Guide on Keyword Research by Backlinko for in-depth information. But leveraging keywords is one of the most useful and accessible avenues to start with.
In fact, it’s much easier to know exactly what people are searching for in order to provide them with the most relevant answer. Where? On your website, of course! Otherwise, what’s the point in creating a valuable piece of content or an informative landing page that no one reads.
Why Google Trends?
Google Trends is a free tool to analyze the popularity of any search term or topic. With this instrument, you can monitor the nature of search behavior, compare the search volumes of different queries, use historical data to see the longevity of any topic, and be able to predict it. It’s free, up-to-date, and, beyond any doubt, relevant.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an SEO professional to use Google Trends. When you search for a certain query, it will provide you with the graph. At this point, it is important to keep in mind that it doesn’t tell you the actual search volume, but a number from 0 to 100.
In Google Trends 0 will indicate that there isn’t enough search data for proper analysis, which likely means little to no one is searching for it. A value of 100 is going to represent the peak popularity of the topic you have searched for. The higher the number the more searches occurring that are using that keyword.
Keep in mind, that keywords hitting close to or at the 100 level matter. Often, the most practical and long-term decision is to focus on those with stable growth or steady positions. While they may look less popular, they represent topics that are consistently searched for year-over-year and won’t bring unwanted drops.
You can get more detailed information about how Google Trends works or read on to jump right into understanding how to conduct your own keyword research.
How to use Google Trends
To begin your analysis, visit Google Trends and start typing in whatever term you’re interested in.
You will notice that soon after you begin entering the query, the tool will provide you with different autosuggestions. For example, if you wish to check eCommerce, Google Trends will provide you with two options Search Term and Topic.
Select “Topic” to analyze a broad range of relevant search terms. Opt for “Search Term” to analyze a specific search query, a word, or a phrase that users enter into a search engine. This way a search term represents a keyword you plan to target.
And that’s it for starting your keyword research, it’s that simple to use. Now, let’s actually get into how to use the results you’ll find to enhance your keyword strategy.
How to leverage Google Trends for keyword research
Seasonal search terms
While some keywords have stable demand throughout the year. Others tend to be popular only during certain seasons. For example, search results related to Mother’s Day start to appear at the beginning of March. It reaches its peak between the third and ninth of May and totally disappears until March the next year.
To use seasonal search terms to your advantage you can implement the following steps:
1. Analyze what products and/or services sell better in what season
When you’re aware of seasonal peaks, you can be ready with tasty deals that your customers would be not only happy to get, but also were planning to buy.
2. Start preparing the most relevant content upfront to match its release with seasonal peaks
For example, if you sell flowers you should have a number of articles or pages ready-to-go about “How to gather the perfect bouquet” or “What flowers to buy for a green-eyed girl”, and any sort of content your target audience will be likely to search for. This way you can then prepare special offers to increase potential sales after a sustainable warm-up.
3. Update relevant pages and existing information on your website before the peaks
This might be a bit of good advice for those who already have decent blog posts or landing pages published. Remember that you don’t always have to create all the content from scratch, just optimize what you already have.
Analyzing general trends
Outside of seasonality, you’ll want to target search terms that have the potential to increase in popularity. That entails looking at the broader scope of search results outside of your target keyword, to gain a sense of just how much your topic is being searched for. So, to get the broadest insights possible, select “Topic” instead of “Search Term” when conducting this research.
Additionally, it’s worth comparing different terms to get a better idea of how something is performing in relation to other popular topics.
For example, if you type in “eCommerce” and then compare it against “Blog,” you will notice that the overall interest of people in blogging is much higher than in eCommerce. This knowledge will help you if, let’s say if you’re considering what niche to choose between these two. Even though Blog has slightly decreased over time, the popularity of this term is still higher.
Now keep in mind, this is a fairly generalized example and there could be many reasons why shorter terms like this are performing better than others. You’ll want to dig a bit deeper, check different variations (like eCommerce tips vs blog tips) and run these searches yourself to truly see how popular things are.
Identify your potential customers by location
You can use the geographic breakdown in Google Trends to identify which regions are interested in your products, services, and content.
When searching for a certain query, just scroll down to see a map where you’ll be provided with areas where that search term or topic is the most popular. Moreover, Google Trends will display the exact percentage of overall searches as well as list exact areas and cities where your target audience lives.
Play around and enter any variations of relevant terms to define the interests of your potential customers across different locations. For example, if you type in “eCommerce” into Google Trends, it’ll display what areas around the US search for this term the most.
At this point, you can navigate to each specific location and get in-depth numbers about the Search interest there and even configure email notifications to alert you about any changes in trends.
Remember that it doesn’t really matter whether you have a local business or a nationwide one because you can use Google Trends to monitor in what location, specific keywords are more popular. Check out these helpful tips in case you’re eager to learn more about advanced search.
Expand your reach
It’s always wise to look past your specific search terms and identify similar options that you can use. When looking for a certain term, scroll down to see “Related topics” and “Related queries” and you will know exactly what similar searches are relevant.
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency. You search for “marketing” Google Trends but want to know more about which vertical you should target when speaking about your services.
In this case, look at “Related topics” as well as at “Related queries.” You can just use these lists as additional keywords to leverage or click on any of the results to dig a bit deeper into what other associated search terms you should be considering.
Top vs rising trends
When analyzing related trends you will notice you have two options: “Top” and “Rising.” Top stands for the most popular topics and Rising for the topics with the biggest recent increase in search. The breakdown mark means this topic is having a tremendous increase.
In case you forget the difference along the way when using Google trends, just click on the question mark icon next to “Related Topics” to get the reminder as you go.
Google Trends is a fantastic free tool for keyword research
SEO is a must for both online and offline businesses if you want to thrive online. Of course, you can ignore it thinking it’s too complicated and tangled, or you can just start digging and implement solutions you’ve discovered. Always keep in mind that SEO is a very broad and complex subject that consists of a number of elements you need to consider in order to master it. And using a tool like Google Trends is a great, free way to start building your SEO strategy.
Want to identify currently trending topics as well as red hot search terms? Wish to find out which keywords have stable demand over the year and which tend to be popular during certain seasons? Wonder which regions are interested in your products, services, or content?
These are just a few things you can do with Google Trends, but they are a solid base to start your journey with this tool.