When planning your SEO strategy, knowing what users have been searching for previously, what they are currently searching for and what they are likely to search for in future can be so useful. Google Trends helps you with this, providing you with up-to-date information. In this blog post, we explain how to make use of it.
Before you start
Before you get started on Google Trends, it’s useful to have information about the sort of search queries your customers are typing into Google to find your website. This, you can find on Google Webmaster Tools by clicking on Search Traffic, and then on Search Analytics in the left sidebar menu. You may then use the old “Search Queries” report, depending on your personal preference. Here you can download a report of the top keywords for your website.
It’s also useful to know in which countries your websites visitors live. To do this, you need to visit Google Analytics. Once you are in the main dashboard, open the Audience menu on the left bar, then click on Geo. In here, you can choose language or location. In these two pages, you will find out where your website’s visitors are based and which language they speak.
Using Google Trends
If you visit the Google Trends homepage, you’ll straight away see some general trends. Google will show you what everyone is currently searching for, along with a few randomly chosen charts. Using your Webmaster Tools keyword data, find the keywords which bring in the most traffic to your website (and aren’t your brand name) and search in the top search box.
You will then be taken to the results page, showing you the worldwide search data for that search term. If your website is only aimed at one particular country, then you can change the location by clicking ‘Worldwide’ on the top blue bar menu and selecting your country of choice.
Interest over time
The top chart, Interest over time, shows you how many people searched for that query over time. You may see news headlines highlighted at various points – these are high impact stories that may have affected the amount of people looking for that particular thing. The main thing to look out for here is whether the trend is going up or going down. Search trends that are looking likely to drop right down, may not be worth focusing your website content on for much longer. Instead, you could look for alternatives.
Nobody knows your business better than you, but Google knows what people are searching for, so in the related searches section of Google Trends, you will find other queries that Google believes are similar to the query you are already targeting. If you put your mouse over one of the search terms, you will see a magnifying glass. Click on this to be taken to the search results for that term, where you will be able to see whether it is a competitive search query or not.
Once you’ve found one or two alternative keywords that are related and suitable for your business, you can add them to the Interest over time chart, so you are able to see which terms are getting the most amount of searches. To do this, go back up to the top of the page, and click ‘+ Add term’ then type in your keywords.
The chart will now show you how both search terms compare to each other over time:
What does this information tell you?
With this information, you will be able to see whether your website is currently targeted to rank well for a keyword that isn’t likely to be relevant in the long term future or not. You can also find other potential keywords to use, and work out your priorities. When optimising web pages for Google, targeting a few terms, rather than many is more beneficial. The amount of times you place your keyword on a page is less important than where you place it, so you really need to know which terms are worth going for.
SEO is a constantly changing thing, partly due to Google’s algorithm updates and partly due to cultural shifts. Names, words and ideas that were popular a year ago may be out of date now, so with Google Trends, it makes it much easier to stay on top of this and make sure your website content and SEO campaigns are up to date.