For every digital marketer, business owner and web designer, Google Keyword Planner has long been one of the most essential tools to build traffic on. Over time, Google has refined its offering to make itself almost indispensable.
Launched in 2012, Google Trends is one of the extensions of its keyword research applications. However, it is even more powerful when used for its true purpose, which is to show not only search volumes for a phrase, but also, more importantly, how it has evolved over a period of time. It is a crucial piece of information as it can help you ride a wave when a keyword is gaining popularity or, on the other hand, abandon terms that are declining.
It is a particularly vital tool if you are targeting seasonal sales such as Christmas or want to capitalise on a trend of purchase. Imagine that you are selling barbecues. One household is unlikely to buy more than one a year, and you want to be the company they buy it from. You may be considering running an Adwords campaign, but the question of the timing is essential. People usually do online research around 10 to 15 days before completing the purchase of a good, and it in this phase that you want to catch their attention. Time it incorrectly and you won’t be on the shortlist of companies they will eventually buy from.
This is when a tool like Google Trends is invaluable as it provides historical data for keywords since 2004. Not only does it keep your finger on the pulse of what is hot right now, but it also reveals patterns and enables you to pinpoint when interest for products like yours starts increasing in the course of the year so that you can position your campaign exactly at the right time to capture as many leads as possible.
Not convinced yet? Despite its phenomenal potential, many businesses still use Google Trends only for keyword research but here are the top reasons why you should use it the way its creators intended it.
- Google Trends doesn’t just crunch numbers and regurgitate them in an indigestible form. The data returned is presented visually in bar graphs, line graphs and interactive maps to make the information more meaningful. Even more useful, you can embed them into reports and web pages if you need to share this information with your management or clients.
- You will never again have an excuse for not knowing what’s hot and what’s not. Google Trends, as its name implies, is all about capturing the zeitgeist. Unlike Google Keyword Planner, it doesn’t offer simply impartial search volumes numbers, but shows queries that have grown significantly compared to a preceding period, allowing you to take advantage of even short-lived crazes.
- It allows you to compare like-for-like by showing relative popularity rather than search volumes, and how this popularity is influenced by seasonality, media coverage and any other event. The data is normalised using a scale from 1 to 100 – with 100 being the peak – and is always expressed relative to a certain region (country), time frame and highest point on the chart.
- Google Trends can be used to analyse single queries but also compare as many as five queries at a time, making it the perfect tool for A/B testing.
- As we saw above, Google Trends has been collecting data since 2004 – that’s 12 years’ worth of data to play with. Of course, there is such a thing as dis-information through over-information and you will have to carefully think about what is meaningful to your business and how to extract it, but it is still an amazing gold mine. You can set Google Trends to show month-to month data or specific periods like ‘last 7 days’.
- Google Trends also shows you media coverage and its effect on search volumes. With this feature, correlations between media coverage and spikes -or drops – are unmissable. If you need further detail, you can find out who published the piece, when, the title of the article and the author by hovering over the letter representing the publication.
- Now, that is when Google Trends is seriously impressive: it will group together searches it takes to mean the same thing and is particularly helpful for common misspellings. Let’s say for example that you sell outdoor sports gear. If you performed a search through Google Trends for hang gliding, it would infer that ‘hanggliding’, and commonly misspelled ‘hand gliding’ and ‘handgliding’, all refer to your search and would amalgamate results for all these terms. This gives you a truly complete overview on search terms and that, if nothing else, firmly poses Google Trends as an indispensable tool for digital marketers as well as business owners.
- Google Trends displays 10 related searches on screen by default, and offers the option to download many more. This allows you to delve as deep as you want but also share information with the rest of your team.
- Monitoring your brand regularly is crucial and comparing it to your competitors’ results is crucial to developing informed digital marketing strategies. Google Trends returns line graphs mapping out the popularity of searches for brand names over time and in comparison to one another.
Unfortunately, you can’t narrow down the range to weeks or days like in Google Analytics but perhaps it is a small price to pay for the amount of information provided for free.
Google Trends offers an impressive array of features and capabilities, and while it can certainly be used to complement keyword research, confining its use to just that is depriving yourself from very useful insights indeed.
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