What have you been doing lately with Google? Want to share it with the public?
Research histories can tell a story about a person and what they think.
But I can’t imagine anyone would willingly give up their personal search history – especially if they identify them – without some sort of incentive.
Fortunately, we can tap into Google Trends for this information.
Let’s take a look at what Google Trends is, where the data comes from, and how you can use Google Trends for market research, product innovation, and more.
What is Google Trends?
“Explore what the world is looking for” welcomes you to the Google Trends home page and accurately reflects what the tool does.
Google Trends visualizes trending topics, search terms and news on Google. It provides real-time data regarding current trends of the last seven days, as well as past trends, which dates back to 2004.
Where does Google Trends data come from?
Google Trends includes anonymized samples – real time and delayed – of search requests made to Google, which are then categorized into topics.
Because we can see the trends by location, data is normalized to ensure that the regions with the most search volume do not consistently rank among the best.
To normalize the data, Google divides each data point by the total number of geography searches and the time interval it represents to compare relative popularity. These numbers are then scaled over a range of 0 to 100, based on a subject’s proportion to all searches on all subjects.
A major caveat about data is that Google keeps queries that may come from “irregular activity”. Google says this is done to preserve the quality of the search data provided by other Google tools.
Put simply, if Google eliminated the spam activity from Trends, then spammers could use the tool to figure out which words are identified as spam and adapt accordingly.
In addition to search query data, real-time search trends report also includes the number of Google News articles written per hour.
How to use Google Trends
Google Trends offers several methods for slicing and slicing data. Google Trends has four main sections:
- To explore
- Trend research
- Research year
Data can be filtered by location, date, categories, search section (i.e. News vs Shopping) and even by topics vs search terms. Rather than going through each section and visualization, let’s see how they can apply to common marketing tasks.
1. Use Google Trends for market research
Need to understand the interest of your product or service to launch yourself in a new market?
Google Trends Explore can help you understand how seasonality and location can affect your product or service.
In the Country drop-down selector below your query, for example, you can filter up to a metropolitan area or click options on the map. You can also change the date to expand or collapse the history, but keep in mind that the sample will change if you select a time within seven days.
Pro tip: As you type your query, note the auto-populated options. All that does
not having a “search term” below, that’s a subject. Topics are aggregate categories, while search terms focus on keywords. The same goes for the “Associated themes” and “Associated queries” tables. Start with a broader topic, then narrow down to specific search terms as you analyze the results.
2. Test Google Trends for newspaper hijacking
3. Take advantage of Google Trends for keyword research
Many keyword research tools show expected monthly search volume. Unless you’ve been tracking this data month by month, it’s hard to tell if research on the topic is up or down. Google Trends can provide you with directional data to associate with your monthly search volume.
As you check your keyword trends, you may find related queries that are increasing to factor into your keyword set as well.
If you’re not sure what people might be looking for, use the topic featured by Google in autocomplete, if possible, and check the “Related queries“filtered by top queries. Once you find different terms in the related queries, add up to five terms to compare them.
Pro tip: Make sure you are using search terms. Wrapping your search in quotes ensures that the entire sentence is used in that order. You can also refine your search with punctuation include or exclude certain words.
4. Use Google Trends for product innovation
Looking for information on the latest colors, materials or styles for your product? Suppose you basically start with a topic in Explorer.
In this case, the “related queries” filtered by Rising can bring up trending colors, materials or other product innovations and indicate how much interest has increased over the selected time period. Those marked with Breakout show a significant increase over the previous period, with growth of over 5,000%.
5. Use Google Trends for grouping topics
Hope you now understand the difference between search terms and topics in Trends.
With topics, Google Trends can help you simplify your thematic cluster strategy. When you search for a term, Google will provide you with topics instead of just search terms, and once a term is selected, it also lists “related topics”. You can get a feel for how Google News helps build relationships between topics by viewing the Real-Time Search Trends Report.
We can go even deeper than the topics, however. Once you have selected a term, you can then choose a category. While these are meant to narrow down your search query, you can delete your search once a category has been selected and end up with queries and topics related to the top-level category.
6. Test Google Trends to analyze news posts
Do you pitch or do you work in the news? Then you want to dig into the Trend research data.
As mentioned earlier, real-time trending searches track the number of Google News articles created per hour on a hot topic. Once you have selected a topic, the bar charts show the newly added articles that time and the running total. You can see how the news can lead or follow the research trend.
The articles listed are the best articles based on the Google News ranking system, by google. If you subscribe to specific topics, you can monitor which posts are ranking well.
Focus on showcasing publications that are regularly featured on your topics. If you’re a publisher, audit these competitors to see if you can update your structured data or Publisher Center information to bring yourself up to speed.
Ready to start exploring? Dive into Google Trends now and discover the unique ways you can leverage the tool for your own business needs.