How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research

Connor Lahey

Dec 30, 20209 min read
Google Trends for Keyword Research

As online content continues to evolve as the primary source of information for many people, knowing what to include and how to place keywords is more relevant than ever. Whether an official business webpage or a social media platform, every site needs to incorporate keyword research ahead of posting content if they hope to perform at the top level and competitively.

Keyword research is simply learning what types of words and phrases generate the most audience interest, internal clicks, and linger time to improve your site’s ranking. So, what are some best practices when it comes to keyword research?

One way is to use Google Trends to optimize your search engine performance. Google Trends is an analytics-measuring tool that allows users to tailor searches for relevant terms and phrases and monitor SEO trends across any set duration of time.

This article will go over key points on how to harness the power of Google Trends in the service of your company’s SEO ranking, marketing techniques, social media presence, and beyond.

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with the Keyword Magic Tool

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Google Trends culls data from Google searches and allows users to compare the frequency of search terms compared to other similar keywords, different geographic regions, or across language barriers.

Data from Google Trends can be sorted for real-time emphasis (the last seven days) or by a specific range (from 2004 up to 36 hours ago). 

Google Trends began as a way to analyze and aggregate user interest in various topics or fields. It has now morphed into a big data utilization tool that can offer storytelling on a much grander scale, including gauging public reactions to real-time events or other news stories within the short-term future.

The tool has also impacted how various types of research studies are conducted and is poised to continuously inform how users systemize search data to their advantage. Through Google Trends, users can track trends in social attitudes, political matters, sports, entertainment, or any other areas relevant to their interests. 

Google Trends homepage screenshot

Google Trends can be utilized for everything from technological forecasting to SEO optimization. How you use Google Trends is contingent on what you hope to glean from it. Business owners can get insight into the products and services in demand across different countries or the United States.

Social media managers can track the success or popularity of athletes, performers, and other influencers. Advertisers can save time and money by pulling hard numbers on what does and doesn’t work across a martech stack or other mediums.

For example, here’s a screenshot of Google Searches for “Taylor Swift” since Dec. 29, 2019. You’ll notice a spike near the end of July 2020 when she released her “Folklore” album. 

Taylor Swift Google Trends Data

You can sort the data by category, type, region, or time period. As you get more comfortable with Google Trends, you can utilize trending topics, trend predictions, and find related queries to optimize your local and video SEO.

For instance, using the platform to analyze search volume over a period of time can help you identify the peak seasonality of topics within your industry. Knowing this can help you plan an editorial calendar that promotes content around that topic during its peak season. 

Below, we’ll look at how you can use Google Trends for keyword research: 

Understand Keyword Search Volume

Keyword search volume refers to the number of times a term was searched within a set time frame. For marketers and those concerned with SEO, this is vital, as search volume is ultimately what drives new traffic to any site. Google Trends allows you to enter any keyword phrase and see graphics of how interest in that topic has waxed or waned over the course of any time frame. 

You can also view the regional interest of a given topic or business and inspect state maps that reflect places where these are most or least likely to be searched. A savvy keyword researcher will place findings like these into a dedicated log or keyword manager so that items trending on Google can be saved and exported for appropriate use.

It’s vital to recognize that Google Trends presents relative keyword popularity. This means that the line graph you see for any term represents a ratio of the number of times that word or phrase was searched related to the total number of searches of anything conducted in a given place at a given time. 

To get the full context for search volume, you’ll want to pair this data with what you pull entering the keyword into our Keyword Overview Tool. You’ll see the exact search volume and how difficult it is to rank for the specific keyword. 

Semrush Keyword Overview Data

Most content marketers want to plan out content calendars well in advance and stay on top of updates in keyword popularity.

To that end, tracking seasonal trends via Google Trends can help you know when to produce content that is likely to be highly searched in conjunction with particular times of the year, such as the holidays. These search trends help your company hit the right promotion window.

Google Trends can offer visuals on when and how much a given keyword was searched compared to how often it’s typically searched at other times of the year. Being able to prioritize the cyclical trends with the highest traffic means fewer marketing missteps.

Is a new keyword on fire, or is it just a passing phase? When you need to know whether the keyword people are searching for is a legitimate trend or just hot for today, Google Trends can help. The tool's left sidebar shows a “Year in Searches” tab where you can explore the search interest for popular topics across the last 12 months. “Spikes” are clearly visible and generally occur surrounding unique moments in time. 

When creating search terms, it’s helpful to avoid those that only enjoyed Google search popularity during a special or limited period of time (such as Christmas or the Olympics), as they won’t provide as many new visitors to your company’s homepage throughout the year like more carefully curated terms will.

A great example of a term that faded as quickly as it became popular was “Tiger King.” Released at the end of March on Netflix, you’ll notice a spike right before April, with the term not really gaining any traction since. 

Tiger King on Netflix spike

Strong content creators always have to think ahead to future content. Google Trends helps with this, as a basic examination of Google word trends will also provide related topics. A table appears next to any term you search where the top five related searches are listed. You can use these topics to help inform your content and build links.

Use Trend Predictions

Using Google Trend predictions can be a simple way to help with your keyword research. Google has added forecasting and trend data for existing keywords to the Google Trends tool in recent years. If a keyword related to your business is expected to rise in search volume in the next few months to a year, seize the opportunity and target that keyword.

Alongside the related topics in any Google Trends search, you will also discover related queries. These allow you to see what types of search terms people used in association with the ones you put in and lets you analyze a popular search against the total searches for your subject of interest. This kind of information can prove highly valuable when seeding keywords or creating content calendars for marketing or social media campaigns.

For example, say you want to create a blog post on “marathon training.” If you’re using the pillar/cluster model for content, you can use the related queries section in Google Trends to generate ideas for cluster topics

Related Queries screenshot

Optimize Your Local SEO Strategy 

Because Google Trends can be refined to filter for specific locations and subregions, you can use it to discover local trends to refine your local SEO strategy.

For example, if you live in a coastal town and run a small graphics company, finding that a search term like “horseshoe crab” has jumped in popularity can inform the imagery of the next business logo you design.

One key point is that nearly all competitive marketers are utilizing the same keyword breadcrumbs from Google Trends that you are, so taking the local searches and turning them into innovative usage often means getting creative with long-tail phrases.

Continuing with the “marathon training” example from above, you might be surprised to see which metropolitan areas carry the highest Google searches — something that would be incredibly helpful when outlining a regional SEO strategy.

Interest by Subregion on Google Trends

Enhance Your Video SEO Strategy 

Maybe your company wants to post a video tutorial on how to use one of its products or services, and you need to know what people search for around that topic. When you want your video posts to rank, using Google Trends to spot top or rising video topics allows you to write titles and descriptions that are more in line with what people put in the search box. 

You can do this by switching your keyword search from the basic web search button to the YouTube search button. You will get instant access to what people are searching for concerning your video’s topic, which you can use to tailor your content and tags effectively.

Take the keyword “home DIY.” When selecting “YouTube Search” from the far-right drop-down menu, you’ll be able to see when people are searching for that term the most. If you’re planning to launch home DIY content, it looks like you’d want to time it around the end of March and early April. 

Keyword Data on Google Trends

Get More Insights Into Your Website Keywords

With Google Trends at your fingertips, you certainly don’t have to be an SEO expert to produce on-page SEO. The keyword metrics you can find there, coupled with keyword tools from Semrush designed to tailor your content to existing trends, means you never have to write blind or hope that your content will resonate.

Semrush can help you organize all facets of the Google Trends data you find and help you turn search queries into SEO success.

There is no publicly available Google Trends API; however, Google does allow two samples of datasets to be accessed, including real-time data from the past week and non-real-time data that goes back as far as 2004.

The trending searches on Google will change from day to day, but the current trending searches can be viewed on Google Trends. Results can be filtered by country, so you can see how trends change worldwide and what the top trends are in your home country.

What Are the Top 10 Google Searches?

The Google Trends page features 10 recently trending Google searches. One day, a popular Google search might be Taylor Swift, and the next day, it could be a new trading breakout.

You can also explore the top trends of the current year and each previous year. For example, in 2020, popular Google searches included events like the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and famous people like Tom Hanks and Kobe Bryant.

Year in Search 2020 Google Trends

Google Trends is a useful keyword research tool and provides you with a host of insights to strengthen your marketing strategy. If you want more help with keyword research, in addition to other keyword research tools, be sure to take advantage of all that Google Trends has to offer!

Run a Full Keyword Analysis

with the Keyword Overview Tool

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Connor LaheyEditor, SEO strategist, and writer. Enjoys monitoring SERP volatility. You can find me reading Tolkien in the far north of Norway.
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