Savvy SEOs don’t just count on Google Ads search volumes and third-party tools to get their intel. They know how to use Google Trends to get meaningful insights into search demand and their market.
You can do this too if you choose to explore beyond the basic insights and trends on the front page.
Using advanced Google Trends searches can lead to better results with your SEO campaigns on a consistent basis.
In this post, we cover 10 unique tricks that every SEO should add to their toolbox. If you're new to SEO, check out our what is SEO guide.
#1 Plan Your SEO Efforts to Match Seasonal Demands
It’s not just retail; every industry is affected by seasons. Even automotive search volumes can fluctuate as much as 70% from month to month. And everybody knows how the travel industry is affected by holidays, seasons and weather.
Use Google Trends to predict seasonal demands for keywords relevant to your business, and plan ahead to capitalize on the trends at the right time.
By looking at the search trends for generic keywords, you might also discover hidden opportunity.
For example, if you are a car salesman and you want to check the demand for new cars. You search Google Trends for “buy a new car” instead of a make/model that will be influenced heavily by release dates and marketing.
Then you can see that search demand tends to peak during spring and dip slightly during early summer, before a second peak in late summer, etc.
With what you know about your industry already, you might think that you know all the important holidays in events.
But when you break down the peaks and valleys, you might notice that they coincide with unexpected things, like graduations or homecomings.
Then you can capitalize with specialized content like “what car to buy after graduation.”
Tip - If you want to maximize Google, I recommend checking out this list of Google Advanced Operators to use when you search.
#2 Capitalize On Relevant Trends & Get New Content Ideas
Over 2 million blog posts are published a day, and businesses are always clamoring for new relevant content ideas. By getting in front of a trend, you not only post relevant content, but you give yourself a fighting chance in ranking in the SERPs from the very beginning.
But catching a trend wave is not easy. The first step is finding a trend that is actually relevant to your business.
And that’s where basic Google Trends exploration falls short. The basic advice is just to check trending content and latch onto clever angles to grab traffic. (How many Wordle-themed posts have you seen these past few weeks?)
It might be a fun occasional practice, but it's not helpful long-term when you want to build ongoing content that is relevant to your site or business.
Instead, search for related keywords and use the Google Trends related topics section. Set it to “Rising” to identify possible trends to capitalize on with content.
These suggestions will always be relevant to your industry and worth your time.
The related topics and queries sections show trending cars you should cover, along with specific blog post ideas about bad credit and “never buy a new car.”
But we are still just scratching the surface.
#3 Understand Geographic Trends (Where Your Products/Services Are Most in Demand)
80% of consumers use Google to search for local information. And because trends often start out in one area at a time, it’s also natural that general product interest fluctuates between geographic regions.
For example, the comparative search demand for “Oscars” in 2019 was 21% and 18% higher in Washington D.C. and Nebraska than the “cultural hubs” California or NYC.
You could chalk this up to an overall lower search volume in Nebraska, because of a higher percentage of rural internet users. But if you look deeper, you understand that there are probably other factors at play.
Omaha, the biggest city in Nebraska is the driver behind the results and points to something else. Perhaps there’s a higher newspaper circulation, and a key article drove demand at the perfect time.
If you are able to spot similar local trends for search terms relevant to your products or services, it’s worth looking into and capitalizing on with local content or campaigns.
#4 Separate Fads From Trends and Avoid Wasting Time on Content
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment thinking something is a trend and devoting a lot of time/energy/money to targeting a new search term/niche with a lot of content.
“Fidget spinner” at its peak in May 2017 was 100 times more searched than it is today.
Although a much-used example, it’s far from only fad easily exposed by a quick Google Trends search. Initiative Q is a digital money startup that took over many people’s Facebook timelines & inboxes in November 2018. It has since dropped to about 2% of its peak search volume.
If you or your team are thinking about tackling an emerging new fad, it is good to check whether it is still on an upward trend before investing too many resources in it.
It’s essential to set the date range to the maximum to get a realistic projection of future demand. If you only see the last couple of weeks or months, a fad could trick you with its short-term fluctuations.
Avoid wasting your time on fads by checking Google Trends before committing to new large scale projects on your website.
#5 Identify Ecommerce / Merchant Center Opportunities With Google Shopping Trends
Initially, traditional retailers were slow to move online, as Amazon was one of the first on Google Adwords. But after being shown the power of digital, by seeing Amazon become the giant it is today, they have now moved online in a big way.
The retail industry bought up 23.6% of all mobile ads in 2018. And while Amazon recently launched its own ad product and is playing catchup, Google Shopping was still by far the leading retail search engine in 2018 in terms of ad spend. Google shopping made up 76.4% of all search spend in Q1 2018 for retail marketers online.
If you work with the Google Merchant center or spend a significant amount of money on Shopping ads, this one is for you.
You can narrow the Google Trends results down to only Google Shopping searches.
This filter can be useful to explore trends for search words that are guaranteed to have triggered the Google Shopping tab, as well as deliberate retail searches in Google Shopping.
Interestingly, the search demand for “summer dress” has completely different peaks from web search. This change is probably due to searches for “uses” and “outfits” during the summer when customers have already purchased the dress.
The peak demand for retail is in mid-late spring, while the general search demand peaks in mid-summer.
The related trending queries also show much more commercial intent than web search counterparts.
For the standard web search, we see that list posts are all the rage.
But on the shopping search, you can see current retail trends.
Just based on this breakdown of only five searches, you can isolate three key trends to use for your ecommerce site:
- Promote specific formal wear as “wedding guest dresses” or suits.
- Focus on maxi dresses.
- Focus on lace dresses.
And we’re only halfway done covering what you can do with Google Trends.
Tip - Include these terms in your Google Ads campaign. New to Google ads? Here's a Google Ads tutorial for beginners.
#6 Plan When To Update Cornerstone Content
Freshness impacted up to 35% of searches when it was rolled out, and has been a constant in SEO ever since. Just about every top-10 result on any competitive search term has been updated in the last 12 months.
Since both Google and users value fresh content, it makes sense to update your content just in time for the high seasons of demand for each search term. That way the most people will get the freshest content.
For example, if an essential page on your affiliate site was “32 brilliant gift ideas”, you already know you are relying on Christmas for most of your traffic.
But if you run it through Google Trends:
You see that there is a secondary peak around the same time every year.
By isolating the dates, we see that the second peak happens around Mother’s Day.
Which gives you the option of updating the cornerstone piece twice every year with new opportunities that fit each holiday.
#7 Compare Competitor Search Demand
No business exists in a vacuum, so knowing your competition is one of the most critical factors in running a business. And not just in general either. Competitor analysis leads to better SEO.
Facebook/Display/Traditional marketing campaigns can often be strong drivers of branded searches. So big spikes can indicate that they are running a campaign or competition you need to be aware of.
If we were to compare our trajectory with that of Moz, we can identify certain key spikes where we would have benefited from knowing what they were doing.
But since that peak in mid-2014, it would appear that their efforts have leveled out as we’ve gained a little bit of traction back in the later years.
Google Trends compare gives marketers an at-a-glance comparison tool for understanding the branded search demand over many years.
It’s good for knowing where you’re at, and which competitors you need to pay extra attention to.
#8 Find Video & How-To Trends By Limiting to YouTube Search
While how-to material can often seem to have a downward slope over the past few years on Google, this doesn’t mean people have stopped caring about it.
People now mostly rely on their cell-phones (91%), and YouTube is racking up the views as a result. From 500 million views a day in 2016, to over 1 billion a day in 2017, and further growth in 2018, YouTube is the new king of content.
This leads to a new search landscape. YouTube searches sometimes have the brunt of the demand on how-to content.
That leads me to this tip. You should review the YouTube-specific search in Google Trends before you create a content plan. Since most content marketers now do both text and video, this search is integral in creating a holistic content calendar.
For example, if we search for “how to tie a tie” in Google trends for web search, it looks like demand peaked in 2015. It also looks like it has been on a downward trend ever since.
But if we switch to YouTube search we see more consistent seasonal trends with a peak right when YouTube broke into the mainstream for real in 2012.
Many how-to topics have trends where searches are moving away from text to video, and the content marketer of the future uses Google trends to help them capitalize at the right time with the right piece of content.
#9 Find Region-Specific Words & Phrases to Target
Find and confirm the validity of region-specific keywords and phrases to target.
There are trillions of searches done on Google alone every year. So there are billions of different search terms. With all the different options, it’s important to think outside just your own language and dialects when looking for keywords.
For example, “garbage removal” would be the optimal keyword for targeting U.S. searchers, with a 59% search share over another region specific word “rubbish removal.” But in the U.K., “rubbish removal” has a search share of 99%.
This is a very obvious synonym, so of course, Google understands this and factors it into the SERPs.
But, the SERPs for the two searches are not identical. And for “rubbish removal” 1800 Got Junk’s specific landing page is rewarded with not only the top spot but also an information card slot.
This example from an industry giant successfully implementing this strategy should be enough to convince you that it works.
#10 Explore Drops in Traffic From Organic Search
Use Google Trends together with Search Console to quickly get to the bottom of everything.
Sometimes the cause for a drop in search traffic is related to trends rather than SEO performance. With events like the Grammys and Oscars, search demand drops by as much as 99% after the peak during the event weeks.
Google Trends can be an incredibly useful tool for SEOs and content marketers when used right.
From pinpointing geographical trends, search phrases that are perfect for a new region, to planning out your content calendar, it can help you from start to finish.
You can use these insights to guide your overall strategy as well, leading to a better holistic SEO approach. We always recommend running an SEO audit to maximize your efforts.
The one area which it is decidedly lacking, however, is in its competitive analysis.
Luckily that is where SpyFu shines. If you want more insight into exactly what your competitors are doing on Google ads, and organically, you can turn to SpyFu for answers.