Google
Michelle Collins

Digital Marketing Consultant with over ten years' experience in digital marketing

From finding new products to sell on your ecommerce website to searching for content ideas, the list of potential uses for Google Trends is endless. Here is a quick guide to using Google Trends to benefit your business.

What is Google Trends?

If you have never heard of, or used Google Trends before then you are in for a treat! Google Trends is a tool that allows you to compare the popularity of search terms and trends. With a number of different features, it allows you to gain an understanding of the hottest search trends of the moment along with those developing in popularity over time.

How to use Google Trends

Well, the good news it Google Trends is free! It’s open for anyone to use, whenever you like. Simply navigate to Google Trends and you’ll see the dashboard. From here you can either navigate around the trending stories or enter topics into the search box:

Google trends

What can I use Google Trends for?

The list of potential uses for Google Trends is endless, but here is a quick step by step guide to using Google Trends to benefit your business.

Understanding your audience

As the most popular search engine, Google has become more of an institution than a search engine. This allows their search data to be incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. You can use this to your advantage by understanding public opinion related to your industry.

If I were using Google Trends for Hallam Internet I would like to know how the perception of our industry has changed over time and where it lays now.

I would get myself on Google Trends and start with the basics. I would type some key phrases in the search box above that I think would be indicative of a difference in opinion and understanding of our industry as per the below screenshot:

Google Trends Digital Marketing Search Box

You will now be greeted with a graph which will show you the search trends over time for these phrases compared to each other. These will automatically default to Worldwide but if you are targetting a specific country or area, you may want to tailor your graph to that area. To do this navigate down to the Regional Interest panel and select your preferred Region or City:

Google Trends Regional interest selections

You will now be left with a graph showing you the popularity of certain terms from searches in your selected area. Here is mine below:

How to use Google Trends

From this graph, I can see how trends have massively changed over the past 5 years and you can see the point where social media (in red) overtook SEO and Adwords towards the end of 2013.  It tells me that, in general, SEO and paid search services may be more popular than email marketing, but social media is continuing to increase in popularity and the gap between social media and other forms of digital marketing continues to increase.

Use Google Trends to find products for your ecommerce website

You can use Google Trends to help you find ideas for products to sell on your ecommerce website, or perhaps even to help you come up with a new retail business idea.

Let’s say I want to set up a website selling virtual reality headsets in the UK. I’d enter some variations of product terms into Google trends and select the option to show data from the United Kingdom over the past five years. Here I searched for ‘VR headsets:

Using Google Trends for Ecommerce

As you can see, the search volume has been quite low but the upward trend makes me think that virtual reality headsets will continue to become popular in 2017.  Therefore, I’d consider such products to be a good investment for my business.

You can also use Google Trends to help you identify seasonal peaks in your industry. Say, for example, you want to sell food hampers:

Google Trends for Ecommerce

This trend graph shows what you’d expect – a huge spike in interest around December. However, we can see that interest actually starts to pick up around July/August, which indicates that I should start marketing activity earlier in the year to ensure I remain competitive.

You could also take your research, or product development, further and use the ‘related topics’ section to identify types of food hampers:

Using Google Trends for Ecommerce

Here we can see that ‘savoury’ and ‘health food’ searches are gaining interest, which I’d see as an opportunity to launch ‘The Ultimate Healthy Eating Christmas Hamper’ or a ‘Savoury Favourites Hamper’!

Using Google Trends to understand your competitors

You can also use Google Trends to monitor your competitors’, as well as your own popularity. Google Trends’ “News Headlines” feature allows you to monitor popularity in conjunction with bad (and good) news stories.

At a loss of who to search for, I have exposed my tennis-loving ways but this explains my point exactly. If you searched for a competitor and their graph looked a little something like this one, then you might be intrigued about how they’ve managed to peak in popularity. By selecting the News Headlines box you should be able to learn very quickly why these peaks have formed, just hover over the letters for a little description. For example:

Google Trends Graph Andy Murray Loses Wimbledon

Here we see that Andy Murray losing to Federer caused a huge surge in popularity. We only have to click to see the article for more detail to find out that this was Murrary’s first Wimbledon final. So what caused the huge peak the next year…

Google Trends Graph Murray Wins Wimbledon

Well, I’m glad that the public agrees that this was a very exciting time. In fact, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon correlated with the most interest from Scotland in Wimbledon in the last 10 years, coincidence? I think not.

Google Trends Graph Murray Win vs Scotland searches
This goes to show how useful this tool can be for finding when you or your competitors have been particularly popular, why they have been and what affect this may have had.

Content Ideas from Google Trends

We all know now that great, relevant and popular content is key to digital marketing and SEO success. The key to popular content is relevance and timing. Searching around Google Trends is a great way to understand what people are talking about, what they are interested in and more importantly what kind of content they are going to enjoy and when they will enjoy it most.

Your competitiors’ content that has gone viral or correlated with a surge in popularity may be linked to or mentioned in the News Headlines section – so keep an eye on this!

Lastly, you can use Google Trends for a bit of fun or just to confirm some of your suspicions about trends in your industry. Of course, Google Trends has a lot to offer – a lot more than can be summarised in one blog post!

Is there anything you use Google Trends for, or anything you would like to know about it? Just leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Happy Trend-ing.

3 responses to “How to use Google Trends to Gain a Competitive Edge”

  1. Sukharanjan Karmakar says:

    This is an excellent article & very much useful for newcomer to learn how to operate Google trends. this article describes every steps very easy way & through images . I am benefited from this article . Thanks Abra Millar & continue post this type of article for helping learners.

  2. Arun Mehta says:

    Dear author – I have a question on how to combine keywords in Google trends. I hope this comment section is an appropriate place to ask ^_^!

    I’m interested in comparing popular IPs between countries in the East and West. As a baseline, I use the long-running popular TV show Simpsons. Looking at China, I see that both “Simpsons” and the Chinese kanji equivalent “辛普森” are roughly equally popular (2015 data). I thought that I could add terms together to see joint popularity with the + symbol; however, searching for 辛普森 + Simpsons actually decreases the index! Is this something peculiar about the Chinese market data, or am I misunderstanding how to combine multiple keywords to gauge the total popularity of a topic for regions where both English and another character-set may be mixed together in Google search?

    “Simpsons” vs “辛普森” vs “Simpsons + 辛普森”
    https://goo.gl/x5b6yF (China)
    https://goo.gl/ag3Ftt (US)

    “Simpsons” vs “Baseball” vs “Simpsons + Baseball”
    https://goo.gl/hxmwvq (China)
    https://goo.gl/ZOVYfS (US)

  3. thanks every much i love your content it really help me

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