Understanding Google Trends

In the months leading up to the 2022 Philippine elections, the country’s social media landscape was abuzz with conversation about a certain search engine optimization (SEO) topic. This was pretty exciting for providers of SEO services who were tired of explaining the specifics of their jobs to their friends and families.

As you probably figured out, this trending SEO topic was Google Trends, something that, as we’ll discuss, was not at all what Philippine social media’s newly-minted SEO experts thought it was.

What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is a website tool that gives users a picture of popular search queries in Google Search. This website has been around since 2006, making it one of the oldest tools in the SEO arsenal. Here, we’ll look into how the tool works and what the best use cases for it are. But first, we have to answer one very popular question.

Is Google Trends Accurate Enough for Predicting Elections?

Not really. While it’s good for getting a gist of how popular a search term is, Google Trends is nowhere near as accurate as a properly-executed survey that uses scientific methods for predicting elections. Google Trends releases rough estimates and does not offer context behind the intent of searches. Off the bat, this should tell anyone that Google Trends may not be the correct tool for assessing voter sentiments.

In our experience, using Google Trends just by itself is also a poor way to inform an SEO or digital marketing campaign for products and services. In fact, doing so may actually harm your chances of success by giving you a wildly inaccurate expectation of how popular a product or service actually is.

What Does Google Trends Show?

As mentioned earlier, Google Trends shows broad keyword trends in Google Search, globally and locally. On the page, users can access a search bar to look up trends of specific search terms. The drop-down menu will also offer additional insights, including the popularity of certain terms over time.

Google Trends also lets you compare multiple search terms, which is excellent for checking the relative popularity of different terms across different regions and seasons. It can also provide users with a historical view of different trends going back years. All in all, Google Trends can offer digital marketers a good macro view of search interest and market demand.

What You Can Do With Google Trends

Google trends can be incredibly useful for the following:

  • Find Keyword Momentum. Google Trends is a good tool for showing digital marketers the general momentum of a specific keyword. It’s especially useful for showing trends that are difficult to spot because they’re volatile or are happening slowly over time. Some terms can rise or taper off in a way that isn’t immediately obvious, such as in the case of games or certain cryptocurrencies.
  • Check Seasonality. Another good use of Google Trends is to check for the seasonality of certain keywords. Using Google Trends will allow you to quickly discover if your client’s offers have a strong element of seasonality that you may need to account for when running an SEO campaign. This can be especially important if you’re not familiar with your client’s industry.
  • Use Trending Topics to Boost Relevance. If you have a content, social media, or email marketing campaign, Google Trends can also be a good place to get a few topic ideas that will give a blog, social media post, or email newsletter some timeliness and relevance. This is especially useful for so-called “top-of-the-funnel” marketing efforts aimed at building initial awareness or maintaining connections and less useful for “bottom-of-the-funnel” content intended to drive conversions.
  • Boosting Local Marketing Efforts. Google Trends can give you insights into localized trends, which can be useful for a local SEO project. For instance, you can use Google Trends to gauge differences in interest across different regions, which may change how you plan to tackle a local SEO campaign.

What You Shouldn’t Do With Google Trends

Google Trends’ lack of accuracy and context makes it less useful for more targeted digital marketing. We recommend that you don’t use Google Trends to do the following:

  • Predict the Future. Google Trends is designed to be a marketing tool and was never intended to accurately predict any future outcomes, electoral or otherwise. While it will tell you what keywords are trending, it won’t reveal the sentiment behind the searches nor will it model human behavior to predict future possibilities. Products, services, and personalities can surge on Google Trends not only because of serious interest but also because of morbid curiosity or negative public opinion. This lack of contextualization makes Google Trends a weak tool by itself for predicting specific future outcomes.
  • Use It as Your Only Digital Insights Tool. While Google Trends may be great for getting a feel for what people are interested in, these search terms will rarely, if ever, be relevant for your industry. Serious survey companies and political campaign managers employ more sophisticated tools and methodologies because they understand that they cannot rely on Google Trends to give them the insights they need. Similarly, if you’re going to run an SEO campaign, you will need to use more sophisticated methods and more in-depth tools such as Google Analytics, Ahrefs, Moz, and many others.

Possible Takeaways

The misuse of Google Trends by the general public underlines the need for digital marketers to not just rely on graphs and numbers to make decisions. Rather, we have to investigate the trends and look deeply into the human and technical factors that may be causing them. This mentality should apply not just to Google Trends data, but to any information that you get from other digital marketing tools.

We hope you learned something from this overview of Google Trends. How do you use Google Trends in your SEO campaigns? Do you even use it at all? If you want to discuss this and other digital marketing topics with us, get in touch with our team to set up a meeting.

Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.