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SEO 16 min read

How To Use Google Trends For Keyword Research

how to use google trends
Kas Szatylowicz
Kas Szatylowicz
Blogger at kaswho.com
Google Trends is a great tool that can bring new life to the way you do keyword research. In fact, according to Google Trends, a search term "keyword research" has been growing in popularity since 2016, making it one more reason to roll up your sleeves.
Keyword research and competitor analysis are crucial parts of your SEO success also because of how search engines, including Google, work. Users search things online via search terms, or keywords. Many recent studies, including the one delivered by Rand Fishkin, indicate that keywords are one of the top-3 reasons why a certain page ranks better in search than the other.
keyword research
Lastly, it's important to mention that keyword research is essential if you want to get relevant traffic to your website. Not all keywords are similar in terms of search demand and competition. Some of them have an insane number of searches and nearly zero competition. For instance, here's a search phrase "how to cook broccoli" that has over 20k searches per month based on the Serpstat data only in the US. And it's competition is as low as it gets (it doesn't get any lower than 1 on a scale of 1 to 100):
keyword research
This peculiar example was pointed out by Lukasz Zelezny at the recent Digital Olympus conference.

So, what's so special about keyword Google Trends? Can it really help you do SEO? To answer that question, it's important to understand the nature of search optimization. SEO is an extremely fast-paced environment with new methods and techniques popping up all the time. So, in this post, I want to show you how you can use Google Trends to upscale your keyword research and take your SEO to the next level.
Please note: Google Trends is not the tool for traditional keyword research, so in case you want to learn more about your audience search patterns, spot keywords with the biggest search volume and lowest competition, you should use Google Keyword Planner or Serpstat. Or you could choose any other tool from the G2 list of the best-rated SEO tools.

Tracking season interests

The first group of keywords that can be revealed with the help of Google Trends are seasonal search terms.

Some keywords are having a quite steady demand. For example, keywords related to business are popular throughout the whole year. But some keywords are only getting momentum during certain seasons, such as Christmas, Halloween or Super Bowl.

In the screenshot below, you can see that Halloween-related search terms start to get more traffic starting in July and the audience's interest keeps growing up until the end of October.

This situation repeats year after year so we can talk about an actual trend here.
season trends
What does this mean to you as a marketer? Get ready for your next seasonal campaign ahead of time. For instance, if you're planning to sell Halloween-related goods, start preparing your content marketing campaign well in August so that it is up and running in September.

Serpstat analyzes Google Trends, and according to the following screenshot, the interest in the Halloween theme has already started to raise now.
season google trends
But as they say, there is what everybody does and there is a smart way to do things. Seasonal content can become evergreen if you simply update it with new offers. Moreover, your previous campaigns should give you an idea of which products sell best. Put them to the top of your page and get rid of the ones that didn't sell well before.
evergreen trends
Hint: If you want to dominate the search with your seasonal products, here's a nice trick. With the help of Google Trends, find out which of your products are of highest interest to the users. Next, update your seasonal offer pages with those items and watch your rankings grow. If you have a well-enough domain rating and do link building, getting to the top of Google keyword search volume for the juiciest keywords is absolutely possible.
Here's proof. A minute-long checkup of the wholesalehalloweencostumes.com, a website on the third position for halloween costumes, shows that their positions are not as strong as one could think. The data shows that they have 451 referring domains, however only 100 of them have sufficient domain rating (above 40). This means, they can easily be outranked with a few months of dedicated link building efforts. This is how long is takes to build 100 links in a pretty slow mode.
serp overview
How To Analyze The Seasonality Of Business With Google

General trend (growing or decreasing)

Creating a successful content strategy requires not only the understanding of how exactly your users search for things or answering their burning questions. It demands focusing on keywords that have a positive trend. That means, the notion and its corresponding keyword is not decreasing in popularity year over year.

Keyword research is generally a time-consuming exercise, but finding keywords with a growing popularity trend one by one can be especially overwhelming. And we marketers don't like manual work, do we?

In Google Trends, there is a great feature that allows you to lookup a broader scope of keywords related to your niche - that is, a search by "topic". Compared to "search term", a topic search gives you a much clearer view on what the users are interested in.
Tip: some keywords can't be analyzed in the topic mode as their search interest parameter is too low.
On a screenshot below I compared the trends for two topics: "link building" and "digital PR". Even though many agencies do digital PR and very few focus specifically on link building (speaking of which, shoutout to Alex from Digital Olympus who's doing an amazing job when it comes to link building!), the numbers tell a different story:
link building trends
As you can see, not only the users' interest for link building is way bigger than for digital PR, but it also keeps growing over time.

What you should remember is that evergreen content gives you the highest chances to get to the top of search results. Google Trends allow you to uncover those evergreen topics — the audience's interest in them is steady over the time or even shows and increasing trend.
Remember about GAP analysis. This is one of the most powerful ways to find relevant keywords. You just need to find 2-3 competitors websites and platforms you can use to export keywords they are ranking for. Then you can use Excel to find keywords that they (competitors) are ranking and your website is not (yet).
Lukasz Zelezny, Zelezny.uk
Keyword Research Without Agencies: Manual For Beginners And Online Shop Owners

Coming up with new content ideas that have the highest chances to go viral

Before looking for hacks and non-standard solutions, you should always run a traditional keyword research and text analysis. It allows you to uncover how exactly your users are searching for your products and services. Keyword research tools come in handy here: for example, with the help of Serpstat, you can get a list of keyword clusters related to practically any search topic. Additionally, you will see their search volume and competition level to find the most effective ones.
However, only in Google Trends you can see what keywords are not only popular at the moment but also have a steady growing popularity trend.
Coming up with content ideas requires time, so book some time in your calendar to do it. Don't dismiss the "natural" keyword research: brainstorming with your team or sing mind maps can bring in some great results. Also, there are many tools that allow you to look not only for specific search terms, but also topics and whole clusters of topics — for example, Answer The Public.

Additionally, you may check out more advanced keyword research tactics, such as TF-IDF analysis recommended by Aleh Barysevich:
Try using a TF-IDF tool to pick up the most widely used terms from your competitors' content⁠—this might spur new ideas into your keyword research and content planning, especially when you feel the need for out-of-the-box thinking and inspiration.
For more ideas for your future content, dive into this fab post.
How To Create A Content Plan + Video Guide

Spotting hot topics (especially good for running PR campaigns)

Google Trends is the perfect tool to use if you want to find the most resonating topics in the society.

Using these topics in your PR campaigns is great as it allows you to pitch your content to journalists and media that wouldn't otherwise be as interested to write about your industry in general.

The secret is to find the hottest topic of the day and the right angle to talk about your business within that topic.

You can find the most popular topics of the 2019 in Google Trends Year In Search section.
usa trends 2018
Here, you can get enough data for a small research. For example, based on the data from this section, you can make an infographic showing how the public interest to a certain topic is growing over the time, how long a certain event stayed in the new agenda, what media got the most traffic, who is trying to monetize it (and how) and so on.
Google Trends is also a useful way to measure brand visibility over time. Since Google Search Console data (if you have access to it) offers only the most recent 16 months, it can be tough to figure out whether a brand is on the rise.
Because content marketing is often about brand building (not just clicks or links), Google Trends can help show the long-term impact of inbound efforts, whether those are more general or to popularize a specific term. Companies that have coined "brand-owned terms" are an interesting example. As we found, the rise of companies like HubSpot and Drift correlates closely with the growth of interest in terms they coined, like "inbound marketing" and "conversational marketing.

A related use-case: You can look back historically to find out when a term became popular and reverse engineer the strategy that helped it take off. For "growth hacking," for example, the catalyst was a follow-up blog post, not the initial publication of the article that coined the term.
Derek Gleason, ConversionXL.com
I use Google Trend to search for brands as a target for SEO.
Let me explain: take for example MailChimp, the total searches for Mailchimp are bigger than the all non-branded keywords combined. This tells a lot about how big is this brand and how well-positioned is in the mind of consumers when searching for email marketing tools. They don't even search "email marketing tool", they search for Mailchimp as their first choice.
This is one of the most overlooked strategies in SEO. But if you think about it the brand got all the advantages of the perfect keyword:
1) it's cheap
2) it's always on position 1, no matter how many algorithms Google releases
3) it's always above the competitors

If you add volumes, then it's the perfect keyword to rank for.
Using a long-tail keyword is your path to outrank your competitors. With lower volume searches, long-tail keywords reach a more specific niche to the more specific content you're offering.

For example, explainer videos are explosively rising in popularity nowadays. Instead of "explainer video", go for longer keywords such as "best-animated explainer video". The long-tail keyword might not have the highest chances to go viral, but it has a steady growth.

Coming up with new content ideas that have the highest chances to go viral

Keyword research is a substantial part of any SEO's duties. Online search is a living and breathing thing and no optimization methods stay up-to-date forever. Using Google Trends for SEO helps you stay on top of things as it allows you to see the direction in which the public's interests are developing. And knowing this, you can serve your users not only with the results that they want to see today, but also with what they will want to see tomorrow.
Google Trends is key for identifying how one topic compares to another topic that is gaining popularity, and informs you (with data) about which topic you should write about next. This is key for ranking on keywords with increasing search volumes that many competitors may not be ranking for yet, allowing you to be the first to create targeted content for that keyword.
Michael Bibla, Content Strategist at Atomic Reach
If you've been doing SEO for any length of time, it becomes clear that most of the results for high volume keywords look the same. When we use Google Trends to find popular relevant terms, do our keyword and competitive research, and decide it's a good opportunity there's an extra step.

We send out a short questionnaire to our subscribers to figure out if they would like to learn more about the topic. If yes, we follow up with another open-ended question to understand what aspects they're most interested in. This ensures we satisfy user intent and it gives us a way to make our content a little different from everything else. Of course, we don't do it for every piece but if the term is valuable to us then it's worth going the extra mile to get it right.
Daniel Ndukwu, Founder of KyLeads

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