In SEO, doing your keyword research is of utmost importance. You can optimize a page all you want, but if no one searches for your keywords then all that work is useless. The Google Keyword Planner is the most detailed tool to do this research, but the application with the most options may be Google Trends.

The main function of Google Trends is to show a chart of search volume for a particular keyword so you can find how popular it is and when it was most popular. Below, the search volume for “Jackson Martin” since 2004:

As you can see, my popularity peaked in the summer of 2009, which was just before my senior year in high school. Man, that’s depressing.

This function is parlayed into a bunch of other applications within Google Trends that are useful for a number of different facets of your company.

Search Groups

Google Trends can show you search volume since 2004 for any term or group of terms. You enter this by putting a + in between terms and compare different search groups. For Instance, below is the chart comparing the group “Atlanta Braves+Chipper Jones” to “Nashville Predators+Pekka Rinne” and “Tennessee Titans+Chris Johnson”.

How to use this data

Because Google Trends doesn’t give you the actual number of searches on a term (Keyword Planner does), it is best used to look at relative data. For instance, we can utilize the charts to see what times of the year certain keywords are most popular. This is a chart showing all searches for “Atlanta Braves” since 2004.

As you can see, searches for “Atlanta Braves” peak each year in April, when the season begins. As the Braves begin their slow, inevitable decline before suffering a crushing defeat in the playoffs, the search volume tails off as well.

This search function allows for a number of options to limit what you want to see. You can look at charts for web searches, product searches, image searches, news searches, and YouTube searches.

This can be particularly valuable to ecommerce fields, especially the product search functionality. Knowing what times of the year people look to buy certain products can be a big boon to your marketing research.


Another useful application within Google Trends is the ability to see where searches are coming from. We can look at these numbers for “Atlanta Braves” by country (Again, these numbers are for all searches since 2004):

We can then ENHANCE, and look at the just United States, by state:

Clearly, the Southeast is far more interested in the Braves than the rest of the country, but what about within the state of Georgia?

Woah, that’s almost all coming from the metro Atlanta area.

Now, this exercise served to show us that people in the city of Atlanta are more interested in the Atlanta Braves than anyone else (duh), but if you apply these methods to relevant search terms to your company, a lot of valuable marketing data can be obtained especially for local SEO and geo-targeted PPC.

Hot Searches

Google shows you what the most searched terms are in a handy chart here. There are a couple of uses for this, but the most relevant one is newsjacking. By finding out what is truly trending in the online world, your social media or content teams can jump on a popular topic to drive engagement, pageviews and interactions.

When jumping on a trending topic, be smart. Don’t try and capitalize on a tragedy and please don’t ever do what Urban Outfitters did during Hurricane Sandy:

Top Charts

You can use the Top Charts function to find content ideas related to your company. This tool lets you see the top searches in all major categories, like Actors, Animals, Sports, etc.

This is a way to newsjack, but it is more useful for content than social media because these terms are based on a longer-term search volume.


While the Google Keyword planner is incredibly detailed, it doesn’t offer as many options as Google Trends. Use Trends to see when and where to advertise as well as what’s popular so that you can leverage this information to drive better engagement with your audience. Spend a few minutes playing around on the site, and I promise, even if you don’t come away with any groundbreaking insights, you’ll at least have a lot of fun. I know I did.

Jackson on Google+


For more SEO Moneyball check out these posts!

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