Using the Google search engine to find information, sites, and products has become an accepted part of everyday life. Most of us will have made dozens of searches over the past week or so alone and these searches leave behind a trace of surplus data. Collecting the histories of thousands of users over time can create an interesting picture of what’s in the forefront of the public’s mind, what topics or types of product are most popular right now, as well as a reasonably accurate picture of wider trends over longer periods.
So how is this data put together?
Google Trends takes anonymised samples of search queries submitted to Google, which is then further categorised into different topics or subjects. The data is also viewed by location, but to ensure the most popular topics in areas with higher populations or usage don’t consistently push everything else out, the data is normalised in line with Google’s criteria.
One unfortunate oversight is that Google includes data from searches deemed ‘irregular activity’ in its results. The reason being that if they filtered it out, spammers would be able to use the resulting absence of reported data to adjust their tactics and circumvent some of the filtering systems used to protect users.
There are a few different ways to look at the data and filter it down to what you need. It’s possible to filter by a range of criteria, including location, date, category, and section (i.e general search, news, or shopping), which makes it easy to view the data most relevant to you.
One thing worth noting is the difference between Topic and Search Terms. Search terms are quite literally what the user has written in the search box, whereas Topics are a broader association of searches that accounts for differences in spelling and includes a cluster of terms.
So how can we use this information?
If you’re in the process of setting up a new business, or are deciding whether to bring a new product to market, Google trends can prove an invaluable tool for performing efficient and useful market research.
By filtering down geographically to a metropolitan area you can even tell which locations certain products are likely to do well in. In the right hands, this information can be spectacularly useful, and form an important part of developing a strategy for new or existing businesses.
Looking at related queries or topics might also provide some insight into what potential customers are looking for, letting you know the best direction the products or services you’re selling might be adjusted towards in the future. Staying ahead of the curve on product innovation and customer desires can be a game changer for anyone working in the modern marketplace.
Once you’ve worked out what you’re going to sell, you also need an effective way of getting people to your website or social media pages. Using the related queries function can let you know which search terms are the most popular, and therefore the most effective terms to utilise for your SEO. Trends also makes it easy to spot a key word or phrase that’s repeatedly used in searches. For many marketing companies and businesses, Google trends is an irreplaceable tool for keyword research.
In line with keyword research, trends can also help identify seasonal or periodic interests. During peak periods, like Christmas or other holidays, there will be spikes of interest. Being aware of what these are and orientating your content output or line-ups to better reflect the current mood, can be essential to maintaining an edge over competitors. Putting out regular, relevant content on current trends can help maintain a top spot on search results, and all the benefits that spot entails.
Of course, there are many more ways to put this veritable treasure trove of information to good use. For many small businesses and marketeers, the service provided by Google has become an irreplaceable part of their toolkit. Getting an insight into what the public are directly interested in makes it possible to create that two-way relationship between advertisers and customers that wasn’t possible even a generation ago. From market research for new businesses to keeping up with the hottest new niche topics, getting to know Google Trends can really help you on your way to success.
If you’d like to find out more and learn how we can help boost your business through effective digital marketing, get in touch!