Google Trends: What Is It And Why Should I Care?

Nivo Digital

1 August 2018

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As marketers, our job is to try and work out what people respond to. We spend hours trying to get inside our customers’ brains, researching shopping patterns and reading up on the latest SEO marketing trends. What if there was a way of knowing exactly what people are searching for all over the world? Enter Google Trends.

What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is a website that allows you to get an insight into the types of things people are searching for on Google. It has data as far back as 2004, so you’re able to easily compare data year on year.

I know what you’re thinking: Google Trends isn’t new – it was first launched in 2006 as Google Insights, only to merge to create Google Trends in 2012. It is, however, an important business tool – and if you’re not currently using it to help expand your business then you should be. For those new to Google Trends, here’s a round-up.

How do I use Google Trends?

You don’t have to have an account to use Google Trends, you simply enter a search term and you can see the search pattern over a specified number of months. You won’t find the exact number of searches like in Keyword Planner – instead, it shows the relative popularity of a search query which is the ratio of a query’s search volume to the sum of the search volumes of all possible queries. Put simply, the peak of activity in searches is represented as 100, whereas no reported data as 0.

So. You enter a search term, then set the following filters:

  • Location – either worldwide or country specific.
  • Time – this can go as far back as 2004 or as recent as an hour.
  • Category – this is especially useful if you’re searching for a word that has multiple meanings e.g. Amazon could be the website or the jungle.
  • Service – specify by web search, image search, news, google shopping or youtube.

You can also compare search terms. Here you can see the search trends for Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift in the US over the last 12 months.

You can see that Kim Kardashian dominates on an image search, but Taylor Swift is much more searched on YouTube. It’s to be expected given the nature of their work, but it’s a useful insight on how the type of search can vary greatly depending on the service.

Google Trends in Real Time

In 2015 Google made its Google Trends data available in real time. One of the main advantages of this was that it allowed people all around the world to explore the global reaction to major news events. The data is anonymous, so you can’t see what people are personally searching. It is also categorised and grouped together. When you select one of the trending searches you will also see related news stories. This feature is useful for reactive marketing strategies and, if you act fast, you can capitalise on current search trends. Be warned though – there is a short window to this type of content marketing.

Google Trends for SEO

Along with the Adwords Keyword Planner, Google Trends can be beneficial to content and SEO marketers. If you work in a field that provides a product or service that is dependent on seasonality, it’s a really useful tool as you are able to discover the time of year that people search for your items or services and plan your advertising strategy in line with the results.

Let’s say that I work for a company that sells shoes. I can see what potential customers are searching for throughout the year.

Searches for the term ‘Party shoes’ for example, start to increase in early October in the lead up to party season and peak in mid-November.

From early December searches drop off, which means that if you can target people in the research phase (in this case Oct – Nov), and optimise your website accordingly you have more of a chance of capturing that traffic organically.

Google Trends for new Content Ideas

Another way you can use Google Trends is by taking advantage of the ‘related queries’ section. This shows you the types of queries that people also search for when they search for your search term. Let’s say I was a beauty editor writing an article on the most popular lipstick trends of the last year. I type my keyword ‘lipstick’ in, set my timing for the last 12 months and scroll down until I see a list of related queries. Here I can see a list of the most popular searches as well as the queries with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period.

You can also go one step further and type these keywords into Adwords Keyword Planner in order to see the related searches for these related searches.

Location Targeting

If you sell a product or service, you can also see where in the country this is most searched for. Take wood-burning stoves for example. Using Google Trends I can filter by city to see where in the country has the most searches for the query ‘wood-burning stoves’. Then I could tailor my PPC campaign or local SEO effort to reflect this.

In this example, I could create a landing page that is specifically targeted towards people searching for wood-burning stoves in Bournemouth, Plymouth and Sheffield.


There are many ways that Google Trends can help you to make the most of your business – from finding new content ideas to planning your marketing strategy in line with seasonal search results. If you don’t currently use Google Trends as part of your SEO marketing strategy you could be missing out.