5 Ways to Use Google Trends for Marketing Purposes
I’ve never considered myself a fan boy, but as a marketer, I have to say Google has been a game changer on so many levels.
Because I’m curious by nature, I love finding new ways to be more productive, bring value, and make the right decisions.
One of the tools that’s been helping me come up with better ideas is Google Trends.
Compare to other Google solutions, I think marketers haven’t been utilizing it as much as they should.
Here are some of the ways you can use Google Trends.
Identify interests over time and seasonality
Before digging into the more serious stuff, I thought I would use a fun example to show you how powerful Google Trends can be.
I’ve always been a huge sports fan. I follow the NBA and the NFL pretty closely, but I don’t know anything about baseball or hockey. To gage how big those major league sports are, I decided to use Google Trends and see which one was the most popular in the U.S.
After selecting a wide date range, I noticed the overall search volumes were growing exponentially since 2004. But once I zoomed in and focused on the past twelve months, that’s when I started seeing some interesting seasonal patterns.
Here are some of my insights:
NFL: There’s three key moments regarding searches around professional football. The first happens around April, the week of the NFL draft. It’s a big thing for fans willing to see which college stars will end up in their favorite franchise.
The second key moment happens when the regular season starts, and the third one is around the NFL divisional round.
The last key moment was surprising to me. Why is it divisional round and not the Super Bowl? I think search volumes go down throughout the playoffs since less teams are playing for the title. That would explain why less people search for their favorite teams.
NBA: The search volume around the NBA usually start growing mid-April, which is the beginning of the playoffs. It then keeps increasing until attaining its peek during the NBA Finals. After that, comes the all-time low until the next regular starts mid-October.
MLB: Baseball fans starts checking their team and favorite players stats when the regular season starts in April. The search volume is pretty steady during the regular season until the MLB World Series approaches, in October.
NHL: I have no clue what any of the NHL trends mean. Based on the low search traffic, it seems like I’m not the only one! Feel free to comment if you have some insights. I’m not hating on the sport though!
You can see how this type of data could be used in the business world, especially if you sell seasonal products like school supplies or tax preparation services. If you are in any other industry, I encourage you to do the same exercise using your business lingo. I’ll guarantee you will learn something.
Starting a business
As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says in his book, when starting a business, one of the most important decisions to make is what business to be in.
This is why doing some research is vital before starting any type of business. Just googling some keywords could be one way to do it, but digging into Google Trends can reveal better insights.
In business, one of the most important decisions for an entrepreneur or a CEO to make is what business to be in. It doesn’t matter how flawlessly a business is executed if it’s the wrong business or if it’s in too small a market
– Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
Let’s say you want to start an on-demand dog walking service like my friends at pupwalkr.com. Google Trends could help you determine if this business idea is legit.
Actually, when you type the keyword “dog walking” in Google Trends, you can tell the number of searches has been growing for years!
Replicating this type of queries using your industry jargon could help you:
- Identify the stage of your market on the demand curve.
- Refine the keywords to optimize on your website.
- Know when it’s time to quit, pivot, or persevere.
Writing a blog
Most businesses finally understand the purpose of content marketing. It’s now common to have internal resources focusing on writing content. However, that content is almost never optimized for search engines like Google.
Creating great content but not paying attention to SEO is like painting the next Mona Lisa, but keeping it in your basement.
Don’t you create valuable content for the world to see and share? That’s why using keywords your audience actually search for is so important.
Companies like Layla Grayce, a high-end home furnishing ecommerce site, have been focusing on creating content for their blog. Unfortunately, their posts aren’t SEO-friendly.
For example, they recently published a blog called Rugs 101. Using Google Trends, I noticed nobody is searching for “rugs 101” (literally 0 search per month). On the other hand, the keyword phrase “rugs ideas” is being searched 100 times a month! Might be worth updating the title for better traffic.
Since I’ve talked to Layla Grayce’s CEO about the importance of SEO, they’ve done a much better job. They called their next post Home Decor Ideas: A Gallery Wall. Including the search phrase “Home Decor Ideas” was a great idea since it’s been a growing over the years.
If growing your readership is part of your blog strategy, using Google Trends will help you better integrate SEO. Beyond finding which keywords to use, this tool can also show you related search terms. By going through these, you will find new topics to write about or even rising keywords so you can be the first to rank for it!
Looking for a niche
With the growing amount of content created everyday, it can be challenging to stand out and find your voice on the web.
One of the way to overcome this is to identify a niche that hasn’t been utilize by the competition.
When I worked with Greenway Health, a healthcare software provider, I had to find a way to create compelling content to educate our audience, mainly physicians and other healthcare providers.
The easy and obvious topic at the time was Obamacare. It was creating a lot of changes in a “traditional” industry. A lots of doctors have been practicing for decades, and they were used to record their patient visits on paper. They were afraid the new required online reporting could disrupt their practice.
For those reasons, we wanted to educate them around the Affordable Care Act, and show them our solutions could help. When doing some research, I realized the keyword “Obamacare” had a high search volume, but it was too broad of a topic. Most people searching for it were regular concerned citizens, not doctors part of our target audience.
I also noticed that a lot of our direct competitors were already focusing on creating content around Obamacare.
After more research, I found a more specific keyword that should be our focus: ICD-10, which is the latest medical classification list doctors had to start using October 2015.
By creating a long blog series around ICD-10, Greenway Health was able to increase their web traffic substantially.
Based on this success, I thought I could replicate this strategy for our Google Adwords campaign. This time, focusing on “ICD-10” wasn’t the right strategy. Most our competitors were already bidding on that keyword, increasing the cost per click.
This is when I decided to go back to Google Trends, only to realize even though searches around “ICD-10” were growing, search volumes for “ICD-9” were still higher. That actually made sense since the transition wasn’t effective until October. Doctors were still searching for ICD-9 codes they were still using.
By bidding heavily on ICD-9 and creating ads focusing on the ICD-9 transition, we were able to increase our click through rate.
Determine regional interests
On top of showing interests over time, Google Trends can also help you find out about regional interests. This can be very useful if you are working with goods that require having physical stores to distribute them. Depending on the insights you discover, You might want to focus on specific states before going nationwide.
Google Trends is a very powerful tool that reminds us the power of data.
The above examples are only some of the ones I’ve personal used, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to use it.
If you need some ideas, the homepage actually showcase some of the recent trends on featured stories about a wide range of topics.
Which other ways have you utilized Google Trends for your business or other personal use?
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