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How to Use Google Trends for SEO

chuck-price
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Google Trends is one of the best and most versatile tools available for SEO. It is the marketing equivalent of the Leatherman or Swiss Army knife. If you could only use one SEO tool to develop an Internet marketing campaign, this product would be a serious contender.

Working with Google Trends

When performing a search on Google Trends, you have the option to set four variables or parameters (default shown in bold):

  • Web Search – Image search – News Search – Product Search – YouTube Search
  • Worldwide – Option to choose a specific Country
  • 2004-Present – Past 7 Days – 30 Days – 90 Days – 12 Months- Choose a Year
  • All Categories – Arts & Entertainment – Autos & Vehicles – Beauty & fitness – Books & literature – Business & industrial – Computers & electronics – Finance – Food & drink – Games

You can compare up to five search terms or groupings at one time, with up to 25 search terms in each grouping.

For example:

  • pen + pencil + paper (grouping 1)
  • stapler + tape + notebook + ruler (grouping 2)
  • eraser + paper clip (grouping 3)

By using the + sign between your search terms you are telling Google that you want to include searches for pen or pencil or paper.

google-trends-paper-chart

google-trends-support

Google also displays Hot Searches and Top Charts in Google Trends, listing the top searches of the day as well as popular searches by category.

Having all of this data available is great, but knowing what to do with it is even better. Following is a guide on how to use this information for SEO.

Keyword Research

Since Google Trends doesn't give actual search numbers, it works best when used in combination with the Keyword Planner. Google Trends will show a "normalized" or relative level of interest over time for a prospective keyword phrase. It also allows you to compare the level of interest among potential target phrases.

Let's say you're selling car parts. When does interest in car parts peak? What potentially drives more traffic; the search phrase "car parts" or "auto parts"?

google-trends-car-auto-chart-a

In this example, I set the parameters for the U.S. from 2004 - present. We can see that Americans are most interested in "car parts" at the onset of summer. It is also clear they search for "auto parts" 4X as often as "car parts". There is a general upward trend in searches for auto parts, albeit a mixed bag over the last 12 months. Good to know when optimizing a campaign.

How about ecommerce potential? Use product search as a parameter to find out:

google-trends-car-auto-b

Product Searches have more than doubled since fall 2010. Clearly, the interest is there, but you should do a competitive analysis, before jumping into any space.

Geo-Targeting

Google Trends breaks down the search data by region. As you can see below, there is some level of interest in auto parts across the entire U.S., with the greatest level coming from Georgia and Florida.

google-trends-parts-map

Drill down further and you will see that Atlanta is a particularly strong market:

google-trends-atlanta

If you're doing local SEO or geo-targeted PPC, this data is invaluable.

News Jacking

Newsjacking suddenly, is all the rage in SEO. According to David Meerman Scott, it's "the process by which you inject ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business."

If Hot Searches didn't exist, someone would create it for newsjacking. The newsjacking formula is a simple one:

  • Choose a trending topic.
  • Blog about it.
  • Tweet it (using the established hashtag).
  • Don't be a moron (e.g., don't try to capitalize on tragedy).

Here's a great example of newsjacking in Bongo Bongo land.

Content Creation

Top Charts is the perfect resource for developing content ideas that people are actually interested in. Sticking with the car parts theme, navigate to Car Companies, click on "BMW", then click on "explore" in the right column.

google-trends-bmw-map

Looks like a blog post about the BMW i3 and / or the BMW electric car would garnish some interest. If the term "Breakout" appears under Rating, the searches for that phrase have jumped by +5,000 percent.

Link Building

Links are still a primary driver of rankings. By creating content that people are looking for and want to read, you will attract links. Links are a measure of success when reviewing the outcome of your content marketing efforts.

Video Content

Poop. That's right; poop is the top result when I do a Google Trends search for "YouTube" with the search parameter set to YouTube:

google-trends-video-map

I sure wasn't expecting to find an explosion of YouTube Poop (+250 percent since '08) and that's precisely the point of using this tool for video content research. Congratulations to California, with a search volume index of 100 on this one.

To play this game at home:

  • Navigate to Google Trends.
  • Enter your keywords.
  • Change "Web Search" to "YouTube" search.
  • Brainstorm
    • Is there an idea that you can use for your niche?
    • Is there a trend that you can capitalize on?

This data may also be used for video optimization:

  • Creating great titles.
  • Using the right tags.
  • Optimizing descriptions.

Brand Monitoring

This one only works for "big Brands" with sufficient search volume. In the case cited below, three of four competitors are static, but one company is clearly in the zone. AutoZone.

google-trends-brand-chart

Takeaway

Google has a voracious appetite for fresh topical content. Google Trends is the single best tool available to develop content ideas that will garner traffic and links. If you haven't been using this tool for SEO purposes, you should check it out now.


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