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Tips to Use Google Trends Like a Pro

Google Trends is, without a doubt, one of the most valuable sources of open data on the internet.

It’s not a tool that’s exclusive to marketers. You’ll find many studies and research articles that were created thanks to this great resource. It was even used to identify an influenza outbreak two weeks before the CDC was able to. (We’ll get to this one in a short moment.)

So what is Google Trends?

Well, in this guide we’ll cover what Google Trends is (if you don’t know already) and we’ll get you familiar with the Google Search Trends interface and instantly find ways to implement it into your SEO and keyword research workflow.

So, let’s get into it!

A Brief History + Fun Facts

Google Trends initially launched in 2006. However, it still lets you to view data all the way back to 2004.

Google has built, shut down, and merged many different websites that used Google Search Trends data.

One of which was a “Trends for Websites” tool that allowed you to compare the search traffic of two different websites. It was kind of like the free Similar Web tool, however it made use of more concrete data. Like many cool Google products, it was unfortunately shut down.

Another was Google Flu Trends. It was a very insightful tool that did just what its name entailed — It let you view data on flu trends. It actually predicted the 2010 influenza outbreak (based on trends for common symptoms) 1 or 2 weeks before the CDC made an official announcement.

Here’s an interesting fun fact about Google Trends

From Bush/Kerry to Trump/Clinton, Google Trends has accurately predicted the victor every time since 2004.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the data:

George W. Bush vs. John Kerry

Barack Obama vs. John McCain

Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton

In each of these tests, I searched for both their full names as well as last names. The results are quite clear.

Will Google Trends continue to predict the outcome of US elections accurately? Only time will tell.

How To Use Google Trends

First, there’s one important thing I should tell you before you dive in.

Google Trends does not provide search volume. That would be too useful, wouldn’t it?

Instead, they give you an arbitrary scale of 0–100. “0” represents a search terms lowest point of relevance. “100” represents its highest.

These values are entirely dynamic and change once you introduce multiple search terms. It then becomes relative to the popularity of the other search terms you provide.

By default, Google Trends makes use of data from their regular search results, but as you will learn shortly, you can also look at other sources.

Where The Data Comes From

Before we dive right in and learn how to use Google Trends, it’s important to know where the data comes from.

There are five different data sources for you to utilize.

It is worth noting that with web search you can view data from 2004 while the other sources only allow you to go back to 2008.

You can select your desired data source by clicking the following drop-down field:

Searching For Keywords

When you’re typing a search term, you’ll see different keyword types.

In the below example, there are a variety of grouped topics to choose from.

“bernie sanders (Search term)” would only include data based around that one particular keyword.

“Bernie Sanders (United States Senator)” would include not only the main keyword but others that might be related to it. Like “senator Sanders” or “was Sanders a good senator?”

Same goes for “Bernie Sanders (Election campaign)”. It would only include data for searches around his campaign.

I’d tread carefully with these grouped keywords. Why? Just take a look at some of the “related keywords” that popped up when I was browsing the “plumbing category”. You can say I don’t have too much confidence in Google accurately grouping and associating keywords.

Finding General Search Trends

A slightly “hidden” feature of Google Search Trends is the ability to view an industry’s general trends by removing all of your current search terms.

It’s just passed November in America so as you can see, as soon as I removed the search terms, the biggest trends happening were related to Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Be a Pro, Use Search Operators

There are various search operators you could use to get more out of your data.

The first one is the plus operator. Simply connect as many terms as you like using plus signs to combine results. This is useful if you want to see the trend of multiple industries.