Google Trends: What It Is & How to Use the Data for SEO

Tushar Pol

Mar 04, 20249 min read
Contributors: Zach Paruch and Christine Skopec
Google Trends


Google Trends is a free tool from Google that allows anyone to analyze the popularity of search queries that are entered into Google Search across regions and languages.

And it uses a chart (which you can set to different geographical areas) to visualize the rises or falls in popularity over time.

Like this:

Google Trends "interest over time" graph for "chatgpt" query

Understanding and using Google search Trends data can be very beneficial for your SEO and overall marketing. In this article, we’ll show you how.

Let’s begin.

First, go to the Google Trends website. And enter a keyword you want to analyze into the search bar. For example, "ps5."

Then, click “Explore.” 

"ps5" entered into the Google Trends search bar

This will bring up a lot of information on the screen. 

First, you’ll see the overview graph showing the keyword’s popularity over time.

Knowing how to interpret this graph is key to understanding how Google Trends works.

So, let’s go over the details starting with the interest score—which is on a scale of 0 to 100

Google Trends "interest over time" graph for "ps5" query

A score of 100 indicates that the keyword is at its highest level of popularity. Conversely, a score of 0 indicates that the keyword is experiencing the least amount of interest it ever has.

Look at the peaks and valleys in the graph to find seasonality patterns. 

For example, interest in the keyword "ps5" spiked during the holiday season when people are more likely to purchase gifts.

An important part of analyzing trends is applying filters for country, time range, category, etc. at the top. To get more specific data.

Country, time range, category, and web search filters in Google Trends

There’s also other useful data you can see as you scroll down:

  • Interest by subregion—This section shows interest for a term broken down by subregions within a country. It helps identify which states, cities, provinces, or other geographic groupings show the most interest in your keyword.
  • Related topics—This section provides insights into topics that users who entered your keyword also searched for. These could be broader or more niche.
  • Related queries—This section lists search queries that users who entered your keyword also looked up via search. These are the specific phrases or questions people are typing into Google.
Google Trends dashboard showing "Interest by subregion," "Related topics," and "Related queries" data

Another useful feature of Google Trends is the ability to compare multiple terms. Which you can do by clicking on the "Compare" option at the top and adding additional keywords.

For example, we’ll add "xbox series s." And the tool will compare the interest for both of these keywords.

Google Trends "interest over time" graphs comparing "ps5," and "xbox series x" queries

In this example, we can see that “ps5” is clearly leading in terms of popularity.

Now, let’s go over seven ways you can read into Google Trends to improve your marketing efforts.

1. Perform Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of identifying valuable search queries that are relevant to your business.

The idea is to target these keywords with pages on your site. So they rank higher (i.e., appear more prominently in search results) and bring in qualified traffic.

Ready to find out how to use Google Trends for keyword research?

Let’s say you sell purses. So, search for “purses” in Google Trends. 

Then, check the “Related queries” section to determine which popular keywords you might want to target.

Related queries section in Google Trends for "purses"

In the example above, you’ll find that many keywords are brand-specific. That’s because when people search for purses online, they often search for a specific company’s product.

If you sell other brands’ products, you can definitely target these keywords with your product category pages.

You can also compare multiple queries to see which ones are more popular:

Google Trends "interest over time" graphs comparing "steve madden tote bag," and "marc jacobs tote bag" queries

The only downside of using Google Trends for keyword research is that it doesn’t tell the terms’ search volume And it doesn’t offer a way to gauge keyword difficulty.

Both of these metrics are important from an SEO standpoint.

Search volume gives you a rough idea of how much traffic you could get if you rank well for a particular keyword. And keyword difficulty tells you how difficult it is to be to rank highly for a given keyword. 

But you can get both these metrics in Semrush’s Keyword Overview tool. 

Just enter the keyword(s) you want to analyze in the tool and click “Search.”

"Volume," "keyword difficulty," and "global volume" metrics for "marc jacobs tote bag" shown in Keyword Overview tool

2. Build Topic Clusters

Now, let’s unpack how to use Google Trends for SEO in a more holistic way. Which involves creating topic clusters.

Topic clusters organize your site content around main themes, with related subtopics branching off each central pillar.

A topic cluster example for "Disney world planning"

They also create a strong internal linking structure. Which is important for SEO.

Let's look at an example for a running shoe company. One main pillar topic could be "marathon training." 

Plug this into Google Trends. Then, look at the data in the “Related topics” and the “Related queries” sections to uncover subtopics related to this broad topic.

“Related topics” and “Related queries” sections in Google Trends

A few subtopics stand out:

  • “How to start training for a marathon”
  • “8 month marathon training plan”

These are some good blog post ideas.

If you want to find more topic ideas, use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.

Just enter your main keyword in the tool and click “Search.”

"marathon training" entered into the Keyword Magic Tool search bar

You’ll find lots of topic ideas. Along with their search volumes and ranking difficulties.

A list of related keywords to "marathon training" in Keyword Magic Tool

3. Improve Your YouTube SEO

Google Trends can also help you optimize for YouTube SEO.

YouTube SEO is a set of tactics used to try to rank your video content in YouTube’s search results. And help it appear more prominently across YouTube as a whole.

The first step of optimizing for YouTube is finding topics people are interested in. So you can create content around them.

How do you find these topics?

Google Trends can help. 

For example, if you’re a fitness creator, enter a topic idea you think has potential. For example, “yoga.”

Then apply the following filters:

  • Click the default “Web Search” category and change it to “YouTube Search” 
  • Select the “All categories” drop-down and set it to match your channel theme (in this case, “Beauty & Fitness”)
"Web Search" category changed to “YouTube Search” in Google Trends

Now, you’ll see the overall trend of “yoga” on YouTube.

"Interest over time" graph for “yoga” on YouTube, shown in Google Trends

It looks like it’s still popular and that the trend is stable. So, you can definitely create video content around this topic.

But what are some other topics you can also create videos around?

To find out, scroll down to see the “Related topics” and the “Related queries” sections. 

Then, click the arrow buttons at the bottom of the lists to go through all the related results.

“Related topics” and “Related queries” sections in Google Trends

This reveals some topics that might work well are:

  • “facial yoga”
  • “yoga for seniors”
  • “yoga nidra 10 minutes”

4. Optimize Your Local SEO Strategy

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence to improve your visibility among people in your area.

This is important for businesses that have a physical location or serve a specific geographic area, as it helps them reach more local customers.

Let’s say, you sell surfboards. And you want to know which U.S. states are going to be important for you from a local SEO standpoint.

Enter “surfboards” in Google Trends. And look at the “Interest by subregion” section to find out.

“Interest by subregion” section in Google trends for "surfboards"

Then, you can create location-specific landing pages for your website that target the areas where surfboards are popular.

For example, you can have a page for “Surfboards in California,” another one for “Surfboards in Hawaii,” another one for “Surfboards Rhode Island,” and so on. 

Include relevant keywords, images, and information on these pages. And be sure to mention the types of surfboards you offer, your prices, your shipping options, and any customer testimonials you have.

All this will increase your chances of ranking higher in search results when someone searches for surfboards in these areas.

A smart marketing strategy takes advantage of seasonal trends (like those around holidays or times of year) to boost sales and traffic.

For example, if you own a flower shop, you probably know that there’s going to be a spike in searches for flowers just before Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

You can validate this using Google Trends:

Google Trends "interest over time" graph for "flowers" shows a seasonal spike before Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day

Once you spot a trend like this, adjust your marketing activities accordingly.

For example, you can give your paid search campaigns a boost by temporarily increasing your advertising budget, offering discounts or promotions, and creating special bundles or packages just before the trend starts.

You can also create seasonal content that’s evergreen like a blog post about how to choose the best flowers for a gift. Which can continue bringing in traffic for years with very little upkeep. 

But make sure you distinguish between trends and fads. 

Trends are topics that spike around the same time each year. While fads are topics that spike once and then fade away. 

For example, “ice bucket challenge” was a fad that was only popular in August 2014.

Google Trends "interest over time" graph for "ice bucket challenge" shows a spike in August 2014

Trending topics are excellent for creating social media content around. Because when you join ongoing conversations, more people are likely to engage with you.

To see what’s currently trending where you are, just navigate to the Google Trends homepage. 

Google Trends homepage

We try to leverage trending topics like this ourselves. 

For example, there was a lot of buzz around the Barbie movie once it was announced.

So, we created this Facebook post for a humorous comparison between how landing pages are usually designed compared to the rest of the website. 

Semrush's Facebook post showing a humorous comparison between landing pages vs the rest of the website

And it was a quick way to connect with our audience and drive engagement. 

7. Monitor How You Stack Up Against Your Competitors

Competitive benchmarking helps you understand where you currently stand in relation to your rivals. So you can find ways to improve.

The “Compare” option in Google Trends lets you see how your brand stands up to the competition. 

We’ll use Vuori and YoungLA for this example. In this case, it’s probably more useful to set the time frame back a few years to get a better overview of their respective performances.

We can see that competition has remained somewhat steady over the last five years, with Vuori comfortably in the lead:

Google Trends "interest over time" graphs showing a comparison between "Vuori" and "YoungLA" queries

We can also see that a lot of the traffic spikes occur at the same time for both brands (likely due to seasonal shopping trends). 

Now, let’s look at Vuori versus Fabletics, which shows a bit more volatility:

Google Trends "interest over time" graphs showing a comparison between "Vuori" and "Fabletics" queries

While Vuori is a newer brand, it rapidly caught up to Fabletics in 2022. And has also maintained a more consistent interest over time.

If you work at a similar company, you might want to check what your competitors were doing during their traffic spikes. To see whether there are opportunities to adjust your marketing strategy to replicate that success.

An even better way to keep tabs on your competitors’ trends is to use a market research tool like Market Explorer

Just enter a couple of competitors’ domains. And click “Create and analyze.”.

"," "," and "" entered into the Market Explorer search bar

Then, scroll down to the “Top Keywords” widget to see what keywords drove the most traffic over the selected time period.

"Top Keywords" widget in the Market Explorer tool

Then, select “Trending Keywords” to discover which terms saw the most significant volume increases over the selected time range. 

And hover over different keywords to see the specifics.

"Trending Keywords" widget in the Market Explorer tool

Analyzing what’s trending across your market can help you better understand what’s working for competitors. Which could also work for you.

If you’re in the athleisure wear business, you may miss out on traffic or customers if you aren't acting on trends like these.

Google Trends can give you powerful insights for your business—whether you’re researching keywords, eyeing your competitors, or even coming up with a local SEO strategy.

But go one step further and use Semrush tools to gain an even deeper understanding of your market landscape.

Try it today.

Author Photo
Tushar has been involved in SEO for the past four years, specializing in content strategy and technical SEO. He gained his experience in agencies, where he worked on various ecommerce and B2B clients. On Semrush blog, he writes about SEO and marketing based on experience drawn from his client work, focusing on sharing practical and effective strategies. His goal is to turn Semrush blog into the ultimate destination for learning SEO and web marketing.
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