Why Google Trends can be a powerful SEO decision-making tool

If you’ve never used Google Trends, you could be missing out on a powerful decision-making tool for your SEO efforts.

Google Trends pulls together search data to look at how keywords perform over time. In other words, it’s a great way to see which keywords or phrases are ‘trending’, i.e. gaining in popularity and attracting regular searches, and which are on the downturn.

To use Google Trends, you simply need to go to https://www.google.com/trends/ and type in the keyword or phrase you want to check in the search bar at the top of the page. Google will then return search data that spans as far back as ten years.

You can filter the data by location, dates, categories or type of search (e.g. web search, image search, news search, etc.)

There are several reasons that Google Trends can be a fantastic tool to support your SEO efforts.

Say, for example, that you run a seasonal business or a business that may be affected by specific dates in the calendar – Google Trends will help you predict peaks and troughs in your website traffic, which, in turn, will help you to plan your paid ad campaigns or editorial calendar for your blog around these times. Equally, if you know that you are less likely to attract new business at certain times of the year, you can look at special offers you might run to create interest or, if you know that you could experience a massive upturn in enquiries, you can take steps to ensure you have the manpower to deal with this spike in business.

Let’s look at the data below. Here, I have run a search for what one would assume is a fairly seasonal search term: devon hotels. Sure enough the data clearly shows that traffic for this search term hits an annual low each December and peaks every August. We can also see that year on year, the popularity of this search term has gone down.

Google Trends Data

We can use Google Trends to compare the performance of two or more keywords to see whether one has higher search volumes or is a better bet in terms of future popularity.

In the search below, I compared ‘devon hotels’ to ‘devon holiday’. This showed that although both phrases follow the same seasonal high and lows, ‘devon holiday’ is more widely searched. Someone running a Devon hotel might decide to include more information on their website about their accommodation offering the perfect base for a Devon holiday in order to capitalise on traffic from a more popular phrase.

use Google Trends to compare the performance of two or more keywords

The table above also shows that search volumes for ‘Devon holiday’, like search volumes for ‘Devon hotels’, are on the decline. It might be worth a company that is thinking about using either of these terms spending some time thinking about why they are becoming less popular. Is it a nationwide trend? Are people holidaying abroad instead? Are people turning to sites like Trip Advisor for information instead of Google?

If a search term is rapidly declining, it might be time to reassess whether it’s the right focus keyword for an important page of your website.

It’s worth noting that Google Trends won’t return data for words or phrases with low search volumes; it also eliminates duplicate queries from a single user.

As the name would suggest, Google Trends is a fantastic tool for highlighting trending words and phrases. Once you’ve run a search for a particular word or phrase, or made a comparison, you can scroll down the page to see a list of ‘Related searches’. You can then filter these searches by the phrases that are currently ‘Top’ (i.e. most popular) and the phrases that are ‘Rising’ (i.e. going up in popularity). This can help you identify phrases that might prove to be more successful for your website.

Related searches in Google Trends

If you’re completely stuck for keyword ideas or interested in writing a blog that taps into a current news story, then I’d highly recommend going to the Google Trends home page where you can see the most popular trending searches and trends on YouTube. You can also search trending people, events, TV shows and songs from previous years.

For example, while writing this blog, the most searched for and trending stories on the Internet include a goal by Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, ITV, the FA Cup Draw, the murder of Stephanie Moseley, and the police raid on the Pirate Bay website.

Although Google Trends doesn’t offer a guaranteed prediction of the future, it certainly stops you from operating in the dark when it comes to choosing the best key words, identifying seasonal trends, or spotting a decline or rise in the popularity of the search terms you have identified for your website.

Do you already use Google Trends as one of the tools in your SEO toolbox? Do you find it helpful? Are you new to Google Trends? I’d love to hear what you think of this tool, especially for SEO purposes, in the Comments below.

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