How to Use Google Search Trends

Leverage Google's data to boost your traffic

An image graphic of a tablet showing the Google home page.

Photo from Pixabay

Google Trends is a tool that can help you send more targeted visitors to your website, blog, landing page, social profile or other web property by giving you the opportunity to tap into Google search data and find the best keywords to target.

What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is one of several advanced web marketing tools offered by Google. It tracks and analyzes Google search terms in various languages and across several geographical regions to determine the most popular ones.

By using Google Trends to determine the most popular terms right now and/or the ones forecasted to be popular in the future, you can leverage the natural surge of Google search traffic for those terms to your advantage. All you have to do is integrate those popular search terms in your current or future content marketing strategies to see results.

How Google Trends Works

When you look up a particular search term on Google Trends, you're shown its relative popularity as a number between zero and 100 at different points in time. Relative popularity is plotted on a line graph over the past 12 months (or other time range you decide to set).

Google calculates a search term's relative popularity by dividing its search volume for a specific location and time range by the total number of searches for it. So when a term has a relative popularity of 100, it has reached peak popularity. A relative popularity of zero means that there was not enough data.

In addition to being able to see the relative popularity of individual Google search terms, you can also compare the relative popularity figures of multiple search terms against each other all on the same line graph. This way, you can see which terms are worth targeting in your content creation and web traffic building strategies—as well as exactly when.

How to Use Google Search Trends

You can use Google Trends to:

  • Conduct search trend analyses for seasonal and time-sensitive terms
  • Compare the relative popularity between multiple search terms
  • See which geographical locations have the most search term trends
  • Check out related queries
  • Get more search trend ideas from the Explore, Trending Searches and Top Charts tabs
  • Subscribe to search trend analyses

Follow the steps below to learn how to do all of the above.

  1. Visit trends.google.com in a web browser.

    A screenshot of the Google Trends home page.
  2. Think of a search term for a topic that you know is only popular at certain times of the year or timely due to current events. For example, good search terms to consider could be based around:

    • Holidays and other annual events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Earth Day, etc.
    • Cultural seasonal trends like summer vacation hotspots, back-to-school shopping, the surge in new gym memberships right after New Year's, etc.
    • Weather-related events like hurricanes, snowstorms, etc.
    • Astronomical events like the full moon, meteor showers, etc.
    • Entertainment events like TV show season debuts, movie release dates, celebrity gossip, etc.
    • Technology events like conferences, keynotes, gadget release dates, etc.
    • Sporting events like upcoming matches between two teams, the next Olympic games, etc.
    • Political events like upcoming debates, elections, etc.
  3. Enter your search term in the given field and hit Enter on your keyboard or select the magnifying glass icon. A line graph will appear.

  4. Look at the interest over time by hovering your cursor over the line on the graph to see its relative popularity. For example, the search term "halloween costume ideas" shows peak relative popularity a week or so before October 31st and then dips right down for the rest of the year. It begins slowly rising again come September.

    A screenshot of a search on Google Trends.
  5. Use the filters at the top of the graph to see more specific relative popularity figures. You can filter relative popularity by:

    • Geographical location
    • Time range
    • Category
    • Search type
  6. Optionally download the search trends data set as a CSV file by selecting the downward arrow in the top right corner of the graph.

  7. Select the + Compare option at the top of the graph to add another search term if you want to do a comparison. Search terms that you compare should be of related topics or themes.

    For example, it would make more sense to compare "halloween costume ideas" against either a broader search term like "costume ideas" or a similar topic like "halloween party ideas" as opposed to comparing it to something totally unrelated like "best books of 2018."

  8. Optionally select the + Compare option again to add another search term to your comparison graph. You can add as many as 25 search terms to one comparison group and have as many as five comparison groups in total.

  9. Scroll down beneath the line graph to see the popularity of your search term(s) by geographical region. If you compared multiple search terms, you'll see a comparison breakdown by region with all compared terms included, followed by an Interest by region/subregion map for each individual search term.

    A screenshot of search trends by region on Google Trends.
  10. Look at the Related queries to the right of the map to see search queries that users also searched for in addition to your search term. You can also sort these by Top or Rising, where Top represents the overall most popular terms and Rising represents the terms with the biggest increases in search frequency since the last time period.

  11. Select the menu icon in the top right of your screen to open the menu on the left and see more ways to get search term ideas. Select any of the following options in the menu:

    • Explore: Get examples of search topics or catch a glimpse of currently trending search topics and queries.
    • Trending Searches: See the top search trends for the day or in realtime for any geographical region.
    • Top Charts: See the top search trends for any month (five months back or earlier) in any year. You can also filter by geographical region or by category.
  12. Select the Subscriptions option in the menu on the left to subscribe to receive updates by email about a particular topic or trending search. Then select the blue plus (+) button in the bottom right to add a new subscription. For topic subscriptions, you can get weekly or monthly updates and for trending searches you can get updates on a daily basis, weekly basis or as it happens.