Finding new topics ideas. Writing captivating blog posts. Ranking content on page one. You know, the everyday issues of content strategists, writers, and SEO-heads.
The same problems that make us spend thousands per year on tools. But what if there was a way to overcome some of these problems for free?
Read the title? Then you guessed it—Google Trends is the friend that savvy content marketers use to get out of these binds. Or at least, content marketers who know how to use it properly.
Let’s review how to use Google Trends to improve your content marketing.
1. Find “fresh” keywords your audience is looking up now
Keyword research tools are great. They’re in-depth, guide your SEO initiatives, and help you rank. But let’s face it—they’re pricey and sometimes confusing to use.
Although, they come in handy for content planning and optimization, there’s a caveat most marketers are unaware of—the data’s not all that fresh.
Ahrefs and SEMRush are powerful software with amazing features, but they only give you an average monthly search volume for the past year. They don’t show how a term’s search volume changed over the year.– Chris Zacher, Content Marketing Strategist at Intergrowth
So a keyword with a 1,000/mo search volume looks impressive. But this isn’t what’s happening month-over-month. That same term may have 0 searches the next month and then another spike to an 800 keyword search volume the following month.
But don’t rule out SEO platforms. Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush are still useful for gauging interest. Seeing the search volume indicates people are searching for the topic, but it doesn’t tell the full story.
With Google Trends, you see the rise and fall of interest of a topic, related searches people make, and where they’re located. It shows the actual search traffic and month-to-month changes of a keyword within a time period you set. And it even guesses on where it’s headed next.
It even offers clarity into the different ways people spell words (based on their culture).
Google Trends also helps you decide on the best way to spell your keywords. Spelling preferences matter. For example, what’s trending today, “donut” or “doughnut”? With Google Trends, you can compare spelling and see the search volume on each keyword variation.”– Ouriel Lemmel, CEO and founder of WinIt
Plug them into your favorite SEO tool to dive deeper into what’s happening around the terms (competition, LSI keywords, backlinks, etc.). With this information, you have the power to direct strategies and content creation that yield results.
More on that next.
2. Mine keyword gems to fuel your rankings
Sometimes, the best keywords are the ones you’re not looking up. How on earth can you know this without insight (or a crystal ball)? Google Trends extends beyond keyword discovery and dishes out its own list of suggestions.
These recommendations are also fresh for the picking. Type “reusable straw” into the search box and at the bottom-left, you’ll find “Related Topics.” Right now, folks are also looking up iced coffee and disposable cups. Potential content topics you can effortlessly weave your reusable straw product into.
You can also identify related search queries to find other relevant search terms. Here’s what appears for “iced coffee.”
With information like this, you can work your SEO writing magic.
That’s what Jesse Forrest, Founder of Copywriting Crew, did. His company offers website copywriting, so naturally, they entered this phrase into Google Trends. Then lo-and-behold, they discover “website copywriting examples” in the Related queries box. And it showed consistent interest over a 12-month time frame.
We identified this as a relevant topic to our business that would allow us to show off our website copywriting portfolio examples to potential clients. We published a 3,000-word blog post called “10 Great Website Copywriting Examples You’ll Want To Copy In 2022”, and within 60-days it ranked in position 5 on the first page of Google for ‘website copywriting examples.’– Jesse Forrest of Copywriting Crew
3. Get ideas for images to include in your blog content
Google Trends expands beyond the SERPs (Google search engine results pages) to find trending topics. It also pulls data from Google Images. Just switch your “web search” to “image search” in the drop-down menu.
Some users click the “images” tab in the search results to look for visuals. For instance, a business owner looking for data charts. Or a consumer looking for different styles of hats.
Take advantage by adding these images to your content and including the search term in the Alt Text.
4. Spot new keyword variations to target
Remember before the pandemic when “new normal” wasn’t a thing? And when cookies were just cookies, and “cookieless” was a term no one in the history of humanity used? Now, you can’t escape hearing them (or seeing them on your Twitter feed).
Well, these are the terms we must watch for to stay relevant. And to get a head by jumping aboard popular search trends before they blow up. This is what Google Trends empowers you to do. And tools like Buzz Sumo and Exploding Topics.
Here’s how Michael Alexis, the CEO of TeamBuilding, spotted new keyword variants to create relevant content using Google Trends.
At the start of the pandemic, there was a major shift to remote work, and interest in doing happy hours over Zoom skyrocketed. Since this topic was new, we weren’t sure whether people called these activities “virtual happy hours”, “remote happy hours”, “online happy hours,” or something else. Ultimately, we used them all in our article. However, Google Trends showed that “virtual” was the most common prefix, so we targeted the title, slug, and other elements towards that. We’ve followed the same process for articles on virtual team-building activities, online escape rooms, remote employee engagement, and more.– Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding
5. Build a content calendar around current and future trending topics
Pillars and clusters. Hubs and spokes. Whatever you want to call ’em, they’re key to building authority. But to guide your content strategy, you need solid proof the topics are relevant today. Aside from using the Related Topics box, you can automate topic tracking for your niche.
This way, you can continue to build upon your hubs over time.
I have an automation set up to track trends on Project Management-related topics. When I see something is consistently gaining search popularity for 2-3 months, I know it’s a hot topic. I often update the semantic word list of queries we track to make sure we stay current.– Cornelius Fichtner, Founder and Owner of The Project Management Podcast
6. Spy on your competitors and beat them
Are your competitors more popular than you? One way to find out—do a brand name comparison. Type in your brand name and click the + Compare tab next to it and insert your competitor’s brand name.
Have more than one competitor? Surely, you do. Enter them in the next + Add comparison box to see them too.
You can also use Google Trends to see search terms associated with your and your competitors’ brands.
Not sure who your top competitors are? Type your niche into the search bar.
If you type keyword explorer in Google trends and filter the related query result by Top queries, then you’ll see top searches are for Moz, Ahrefs, and Google keyword explorer. It means the audience is in the consideration stage, looking for the best tool for keyword research. So you have the opportunity to educate people in their consideration stage by showing why they should choose your brand. Do this by creating a comparison page with these brands.– Nupur Mittal, Content Writer at Mailmodo
Others use Google Trends to gain a competitive edge. One brand doing this well is Arken Digital.
Google Trends allows us to get ahead of our competition on seasonal topics. For example, we can see when demand for a certain product is at it’s highest and build out content enough time in advance to get it live, and for us ranking.– Richard Kennedy, Arken Digital
7. Select better keywords to drive website traffic
Content writing isn’t the only type of content benefitting from Google Trends. We also see brands using it to guide their website copywriting.
For instance, HiveDesk, a time-tracking software for remote teams, used it to identify popular search terms. Around Feb/March 2020, there was a spike in searches for “work from home” (unsurprisingly).
We quickly adjusted our home page copy and a few blog posts to include time tracking for work from home employees. We started getting 2-3x visitors and customers as a result. We still rank in the top 2 for the term “time tracking for work from home.– Vishal Srivastava, VP of marketing at HiveDesk
And they did the same thing in late 2021 as people headed back into the office. This time, the phrase “hybrid work” became a thing.
“We created several new posts targeting this keyword. We’re already ranking on page 1 for some related keywords. We are getting several hundred visitors each month for these terms,” said Vishal Srivastava.
8. Perform market research for a new product or startup
Launching a new product or business is easy today. Keeping it afloat—not so much. The struggle is real, especially when you don’t understand your target market or have access to market data.
Google Trends aids market research by providing insights and patterns of when certain keywords are trending.
Begin with broad terms, like services and features, to see what shows. Then narrow it down to your niche or product. Keep an eye on the Related Topics to spot trending categories and Related Queries to see trending search terms.
You may find your audience uses something different to look up your product or service. Use this in your website copy and marketing collateral describing your offer.
9. Add credibility to your content
A great content writer backs their claims with facts and data. And that’s exactly what Google Trends gives you. And for some topics, you need charts and graphs.
For example, an article discussing a new trend in online grocery shopping. You can screenshot Google search trends and the uptick in searches for grocery delivery at a certain point in time.
“I’ve used Google Trends to hook audiences in my introductions and get them to pay attention to the topic I’m writing about. For example, for an article on first-mile delivery I wrote for Shipbob, I front loaded Google Trends data on last mile delivery to introduce the idea that first-mile delivery best practices could actually improve a business’s last-mile delivery process as well.”– Nikhil Venkatesa, Content Marketing Lead at Convictional
10. Create SEO and thought leadership content
When most brands approach content marketing, they think black or white—SEO or thought leadership. But the best pieces offer the best of both worlds.
Use Google Trends to find spikes in keyword search terms to form topics around. Alex Birkett, Co-Founder of Omniscient Digital, recommends using keyword tools for deeper keyword research. Then for the thought leadership:
“You want to ride big waves. You want to pick early topics that are rising in popularity. Typically, a client will have a general topic area they want to be known for, and we can use Google Trends to find the exact words people are using to describe this trend.”– Alex Birkett, co-founder at Omniscient Digital
From here, you can optimize your post using a tool like Frase, Clearscope, or Content Harmony.
11. Promote your content using outreach
You found popular keywords, developed an amazing piece of content, and published it. But you’re not done yet. Now, it’s time to promote your content using an outreach strategy.
According to Nicholas Yandle, SEO Specialist at Directive Consulting, you can do this with Google Trends:
Google Trends helps you explore conversations occurring around terms associated with your greater industry or product offering. By filtering through trends and queries according to region, date range, or even type of query, you can identify new niche demographics. From here, you can explore businesses associated with these new demographics and perform outreach to establish new connections based on trends you’ve seen between your industry and theirs.– Nicholas Yandle, SEO Specialist at Directive Consulting
He further advises to first create content that speaks to the user’s particular niche prior to conducting outreach. This can help reaffirm that the outreach connection makes sense.
Google Trends can also find topics niche publications may be interested in for guest post writing. Or to locate local businesses that can sponsor your next webinar, podcast, or research study.
If your business serves a specific region, uncover local search trends by utilizing the ‘Interest by subregion’ feature. This helps you find relevant outreaching opportunities in the area.– Scott Spivack, Marketing Director at United Medical Credit
Take content marketing to the next level with Google Trends
Designing content that attracts and converts begins with great topic and market research. Ask any content marketer, and they’ll tell you the same. But putting this into action isn’t simple without the right content marketing strategy (and tools).
Whether you’re looking to build SEO, thought leadership, or conversions, Google Trends offers the insights to help. Use it to identify search volume trends to guide future content and messaging, and then monitor what works and regularly make updates to maintain content freshness. Need help with content execution? Consider outsourcing your content writing to professionals.