If you bought a fidget spinner last year, you could attract a bigger crowd than a Livestrong bracelet could in the mid-2000's. But if you bought one today, you’d be a cliche. People would most likely scurry past you, give you a harsh glare, and mentally patronize you for being "so 2017".
In digital media, this is exactly how your audience feels when you spit out articles about fading trends. If the story isn’t juicy anymore, they won’t care to read it. Plus, they’ll probably categorize you in the same group as their dad -- outdated and embarrassing.
Fortunately, marketers have access to a powerful tool that can solve this problem. It’s called Google Trends. And along with providing you with current trends to freshen up your content, it can help you rank for more keywords and boost your organic traffic.
Google Search Trends
Google Trends is a free tool that gauges a query’s relative popularity, which is a single query’s search volume divided by all possible queries’ search volumes, on a scale of zero to 100.
To provide the most accurate relative popularity, Google Trends doesn’t account for repeat searches from the same person over a short period of time. The tool can also show you a query’s search popularity over certain time frames.
Since a query's search popularity is a relative measurement, it'll change when the query’s search volume or the total number of Google searches changes.
7 Ways You Can Use Google Trends to Bolster Your SEO Efforts
1. Create and optimize content for seasonal trends.
To take advantage of the surge of searches certain keywords will attract, you can create new content or optimize existing content about these topics when their popularity peaks.
But how do you know exactly when your query’s popularity will peak and avoid missing out on a surplus of searches?
If you run a baseball blog, for instance, you know baseball fans treat Opening Day as a sacred holiday. And after plugging the keyword “Opening Day” into Google Trends, you’ll see that its search popularity peaked during the week of March 25 - 31, the week of Opening Day.
With these insights, you’ll know which specific week you should publish Opening Day content.
But if you dive deeper into the Google Trends data and set your time frame as Opening Day week, you’ll see the keyword’s popularity doesn’t peak until March 29, the exact day of Opening Day.
Now, to garner as much organic traffic as possible, you know you should publish your Opening Day content on Opening Day, instead of a few days before or after.
2. Find trending topics to cover.
Covering current events keeps your audience informed. And the more knowledgable your audience is, the better they can do their jobs. They’ll also start relying on you more for their fix of timely stories.
To find trending topics, use Google Trend’s trending search tool. It’ll show you which queries people have searched for the most during the last 24 hours. You can also filter theses stories by category, like Business, Entertainment, Health, Sci/Tech, Sports, and Top Stories.
Since there will be a lot of stories about trending topics, though, you shouldn’t just take the same angle as everyone else. You won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. So try taking a contrarian view on a topic you know most of your competitors will cover with the same point-of-view. Your unique and refreshing spin will attract more of your audience’s attention and earn their clicks.
3. Make sure popularity spikes aren't skewing a keyword's search volume.
The problem with monthly search volume is that it calculates the average amount of times people search for a keyword every month. This can be problematic because outliers in data can heavily skew averages.
For instance, in 1985, the average starting salary for a geography major at the University of North Carolina was well over $100,000. Even today, that’d be one of the best starting salaries for any major.
But here's the thing -- Michael Jordan, a geography major at UNC, left the university in 1984 to sign a $1 million per year contract with the Chicago Bulls. If you take Jordan out of the equation in 1985, the average starting salary for geography majors at UNC was actually around $25,000.
Popularity spikes can impact a keyword’s monthly search volume just like Michael Jordan’s lucrative contract affected the average starting salary of a geography major at UNC.
But if you examine the search popularity of the keyword “Rebecca Black” in Google Trends, you’ll see that a huge popularity spike in early June has actually skewed the keyword’s monthly search volume. The current amount of people searching for Rebecca Black each month is probably much lower than 1,900.
In June of 2018, Rebecca Black competed on Fox’s The Four: Battle for Stardom. After keeping a low profile for seven years, her unexpected appearance on a nationally syndicated show, hosted by musical superstars like Fergie, P-Diddy, Meghan Trainor, and DJ Khaled, naturally prompted the explosion of searches for her name during this short time frame.
But after her elimination, the search popularity for the keyword “Rebecca Black” dropped back down to normal.
Keywords with high monthly searches are more realistic and valuable if their search popularity trend is steady or increasing. With this in mind, if you want to write an article about the current whereabouts of infamous one-hit wonders, Rebecca Black might not be your best subject.
4. Gauge the demand for your product or services in specific regions, cities, and metropolitan areas.
Your product or service won’t appeal to everyone, but if you can target the people whose living situation makes it more of a necessity, you’ll be able to spend your time and resources more efficiently.
For example, if you sell outerwear, checking the popularity of the keyword “winter jackets” in a specific region, city, and metropolitan area over a certain period of time will help you understand which audiences you should target.
And after finding the locations where your keyword is most popular, you can run Google AdWords campaigns in each location or optimize keywords in your content for each audience during times of high demand.
5. Pinpoint the root cause of a dip in organic traffic.
Sometimes, if one of your blog post’s organic traffic drops, it’s not always your content’s fault. The keyword it’s ranking for could’ve lost popularity amongst your audience. To accurately determine what’s causing your post’s organic traffic to slide, Google Trends can paint a clear picture for you.
By plugging the top keywords your post ranks for into Google Trends and checking its popularity trend over time, you’ll know whether you need to update your post or whether your audience lost interest in the keywords.
For instance, if the post’s top keywords’ popularity is steady or increasing, you need to update your post with fresher and more comprehensive information. If the keywords' popularity is decreasing, your audience lost interest in the overarching topic. In that case, there’s not much you can do to boost your post’s organic traffic.
To learn more about salvaging your Google rankings before it’s too late, check out this blog post written by one of HubSpot’s senior SEO specialists, Aja Frost.
6. Find new, relevant long-tail keywords.
With its related queries feature, Google Trends is not only a keyword research tool but also a tool for developing your entire content strategy. After plugging in your keyword, Google Trends will display the top 20 trending related queries and the 25 most popular related queries.
You can then plug these related keywords into an SEO software, like Ahrefs or SEMrush, to check their keyword difficulty, search volume, and find even more related keywords. Ultimately, this process will help you cover trending and popular topics that can attract a ton of organic traffic.
Trending Related Queries for“Storytelling”
Most Popular Related Queries for “Storytelling”
7. Determine if a topic lends itself better to video.
If a keyword’s popularity on web search dips, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap it from your entire content mix. A keyword that loses popularity on web search can actually gain popularity on YouTube search.
For instance, if you look at the Google Trends graph for “content marketing”, you’ll see its popularity on Google search has waned over the past year.
But if you plug “content marketing” into Google Trends for YouTube search, you’ll see that its popularity has climbed over the past year.
Only looking at the Google Trends graph for web search might make you think the keyword “content marketing” lost popularity in general, but its popularity just moved from Google to YouTube. In other words, “Content marketing” is still a valuable topic to cover. You should just make a video series about it, instead of writing articles about the topic.
Originally published Oct 23, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated December 30 2018