How to Use Google Trends to Complement Your Keyword Research (Examples + Screenshots)

i. What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is one of the more underrated Google products, which in my opinion, doesn’t do justice to its ease of practicality. Since Google first launched its Google Insights for Search in 2008 (which the search engine giant later merged with Google Trends), savvy marketers have use the service in conjunction with Google Trends (then a separated service) and Google’s Keyword Research Tool to identify potential search trends and advertise or market accordingly.

Today, Keyword Research Tool is still a wildly popular tool many search engine marketers would swear they could not live without. Paling in comparison, Google Trends were rarely, if ever, mentioned.

Truth it, anybody can use Google Trends to great effect and it’s so simple business owners without any technical skills would feel perfectly comfortable with the tool. Unlike the Keyword Research Tool, users do not need an Adwords account. How does it help business owners, then?

Several answers surface, and one of the most common is its contribution in helping businesses choosing an advertising message that fits and resonates.

ii. Google Trends: Comparing search terms and interests

To illustrate how Google Trends can help businesses market better, we’ll use MJM Yachts as a case example (Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated to the company!) below.

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MJM Yachts call themselves the World Leader in Fuel-efficient powerboats and many of their builds were marketed as boats that “burn as little as half the fuel necessary” for boats their size while crusing at 25+ knots. MJM’s mantra is crisp and to-the-point: TWICE THE FUN, HALF THE FUEL.


MJM’s fuel efficient powerboats

Assuming we’re back in 2004, a year after MJM Yachts was founded. As MJM looks to expand its business, the company decided to run a branding and advertising campaign to promote these fuel-efficient yachts it makes. To ensure its core competitive advantage is most relevant to the ongoing search trend, MJM has to make a strategic decision – whether to wrap its advertising message around the ‘eco-friendly’ keyword, or to focus on the keyword ‘bio-diesel’, or just bank on it’s ‘fuel efficiency’ to market and re-brand itself.

I know what you’re thinking. Google’s Keyword Research Tool can do the job just fine. To some extent, yes. But you’ll quickly find out why Google Trends will do the job more efficiently. Prettier even.

iii. What Google Trends tell us about web interests over time

Here’s the web search interest of fuel efficiency, eco friendly, and bio diesel in the United States, April 2004 – May 2005.


Note that the number 100 represents the peak search volume. Thanks to Google Trends, we can almost draw some pretty conclusive findings from the chart alone.

MJM would do better with their branding and advertising message wrapped around the “fuel efficiency” theme, and maybe tap on the growing search trend for the “bio diesel” term. MJM could of course, devise a tagline surrounding the “eco-friendly” term but would that would mean a lot more work (and a lot more inefficiencies).

iv. What Google Trends tell us about regional interests

To further optimize our branding message, we want to factor in the regional interest shown for each search term and see if that matches our intended demographic or audience group. Apparently Google Trends has a neat way to present this column of data as well.

google trend by regional interests

google trends by regional interest

I’ve said that Google Trends is an incredible tool for insight-based research. Here, we’d see that MJM would prefer to use the “fuel efficiency” search term in their advertising message supposed most of their customers or leads are from California or New York. If the business is largely based, or is planning to expand into the Washington market, it might find “bio diesel” a more attractive term.

Google Trends does the job, and does it simply enough.

v. What Google Trends tell us about forward-looking research

What we’ve learned till is mainly concerned with the present. The current web search interest (assuming we’re still in 2004 with this MJM Yachts case study). This probably violates what we’re told about a forward-looking marketing plan. But I’ll show you why this is not the case with the Google Trends — the tool that packs in a Forecast engine.

You’d be surprised and how handy this all turned out to be, because as we move into February 2007, what has been the most unpopular search term skyrocketed in search volume and consistently become the industry’s standard term.

Yes. Eco-friendly is the industry standard term after February 2007, and MJM Yachts will be glad their brand has created a strong case by planting strong associations to this attribute it wants to be known for.

Fuel Efficient, Or Eco-friendly?

Fuel Efficient, Or Eco-friendly?

Fortunately enough, toggling Forecast and News Headline in Google Trends are simple and straight-forward to perform.

Google forecasts via Trends

vi. Final words

Google Trends is nowhere near as technical as the arguably more powerful keyword research tools that are available out there. That should not discount its appeal to the mainstream users and non-technical business owners out there. Google markets the new Google Trends as providing “insights into what the world is searching for” and helpfully pointed out four key areas it can help advertisers and business owners with.

  • Choosing advertising messages
  • Examining seasonality
  • Creating brand associations
  • Entering new market

Share your thoughts, or dive into Google Trends and experiment it here.

Comments: 7

  • My only speculation about this would be the idea that a trend is a trend for a reason. That is not to say that a niche market will not do well if it uses those targeted keywords, because it will be almost necessary to use keyword research and incorporate those searched terms within the strategy. One should try their best to use foresight and analyze whether or not these trends will quickly change or develop and use that knowledge accordingly.

    • Samuel Chan says:

      Very true Poeabby. Historical search trend should be interpreted with a focus on the future. I like the notion of a trend being a trend for a reason – what constitutes a good “growth factor” for an upward trend and what doesn’t or is just likely a buzz that would wither away in time. I have a few examples right off my mind now, for another post maybe.

  • Shelley says:

    I really liked Google Insights and I will have to do more research on how to get valuable information from Google Trends…It seems a bit complicated…I just want to do a quick and dirty keyword research and then write an article that will convert…I find that some keyword research methods take longer than writing the article itself…

    WAHM Shelley… :)

    • Samuel Chan says:

      Hi Shelly, it isn’t complicated at all. If you’d need more help, shoot me an email and I’d be glad to offer help.

      Personally, keyword research is usually an ongoing process involving a lot of excel file, carefully organized tables and you know what, it does take longer than writing the article itself.

      I wish you success!

  • I really loved using Google Insights, as you could nail down specific keywords for local regions. Unfortunately, you don’t get as much information with Trends, but it is still very useful. I learned a bit more here today, too, so thanks.

  • Samuel Chan says:

    Yes, that is very true for Insights (it’s previous self) and Trends.
    But the merging does makes sense though. Advertisers and businesses who’d appreciate the comprehensiveness in their keyword research would naturally turn to other offerings such as the Google’s keyword research tool and other data-heavy solutions.

    The customer profile that should remain loyal users for its Insights/Trends product line would welcome a less-technical (or less geek) solution. Something that tells what keyword is trending in which city and what headlines are associated with it — in the most basic manner.

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