Google Trends for marketers in a dynamic environment

When market dynamics change rapidly, it can be hard to grasp how people’s needs are evolving. Google Trends allows you to see the topics people are—or aren’t—searching, almost in real time. For example, did you know that in March 2020, the search term “virtual birthday party ideas” became very popular in just a few days in the US? You can use this information to explore what’s top of mind for your audience and figure how to adjust your ad campaigns to meet their expectations. Here are a few ways you can use Google Trends to find the data you need to navigate disruptions to your business and be helpful to your customers.


Quickly find popular terms

Check Google Trends' Latest Stories and Insights such as “Coronavirus Search Trends” to explore curated insights about a popular topic and get a first pulse of how people are searching for this theme.

Explore your own topics

In addition to what you see on the homepage, you can explore and gauge interest in virtually any topic. When you search for a term on Trends, you’ll see a graph showing the term’s popularity over time. Hovering your mouse over the graph reveals a number, which reflects indexed search interest — how many searches have been done for the particular term relative to the total number of searches done on Google.

  1. Comparing search terms. You can add topics for simultaneous comparison by clicking + Compare and typing in your search term.

    Use case: Let’s say you’re a beauty supplier who wants to find out what accessories and products people need as the coronavirus situation is changing their beauty routine. Using Google Trends comparison feature, you can pinpoint increased search interest in "cut your own hair", while searches for “massage oil” stay steady.
  2. Narrowing your search by time. To be relevant in the moment and improve readability for breakthrough trends, use the Past 12 months dropdown to refine your exploration and focus on a shorter period of time such as ‘past 30 days’. Checking how trends are evolving over different time periods can also help you understand if a term’s popularity is steady, seasonal, or influenced by isolated events.

    Google Trends UI showing a search narrowed by time

    Use case: By zooming out and looking at the trend over the last 90 days, it turns out “massage oil” historically generates more searches than “cut your own hair”.
  3. Finding related topics or queries. Related topics or queries can be used to determine the top and rising topics or terms associated with any search. This can be useful to uncover customer needs that are less obvious.

    "Rising” shows terms that were searched for with the term you entered which had the most significant growth in volume in the requested time period. For each rising search term, you’ll see a percentage of the term’s growth compared to the previous time period. If you see “Breakout” instead of a percentage, it means that the search term grew by more than 5000%.

    Use case: For example, during the month of March in the US, “buzz cut” was a “Breakout” topic related to “cut your own hair” search term. A follow-up research indicates an increased search interest for the term “electric clipper” during the same time period.

Be geographically relevant

  1. Expanding your search by geography. If your business has an international footprint, use the “Worldwide” dropdown to see how people’s searches differ from one country to another. This can help you adjust your strategy to make sure your brand message is relevant to the local context.

    Google Trends UI showing a search filtered by region

    Use case: If you’re selling pet products, you can pinpoint that in the March, people in the US were more interested in searching for toys for their domestic animals rather than leashes, while it was the opposite in Italy.
  2. Refining your search by region or city. When you search for a term in Google Trends, your results will include a heat map showing areas where your term is popular.

    Hovering over a region will activate a pop-up window that reveals its search volume index. On the right of the map is a list view icon that displays the ranking of top regions or cities based on your term’s popularity. For some countries, Google Trends also allows you to get information for a specific metro area.

    Use case: Filtering by geographic area, you’ll notice that the popularity of the term “puppies for adoption” increased all over the US as of early March but that the boost of interest was particularly outstanding in certain metropolitan areas such as Palm Springs, California.

Refine your insights

  1. Filtering across properties. You can explore trends across Google Search, Image Search, News Search, Google Shopping, and YouTube Search.

    Use case: Imagine you’re a grocery store who wants to understand how dynamic eating habits are impacting your marketing strategy. You could focus your “food” research on Google Search and Google Shopping properties and look at related queries to spot which of your products are in demand and likely to have an effect on your sales volume in the short term.
  2. Using punctuation to filter search results. You can use punctuation to more precisely understand which terms people use. 

    Note that Google Trends uses its own keyword matching mechanism. Here’s how various punctuation can affect this search in Trends:
  • grocery list – With no punctuation, your results will contain both words in any order, along with other words. For example: grocery list for quarantine, coronavirus grocery list, list of grocery stores etc. No misspellings, spelling variations, synonyms, plural or singular versions of your terms will be included.
  • “grocery list” – Double quotation marks around your term give results that include that exact term, possibly with words before and after (grocery list essentials, for example).
  • pantry + recipe – Results can include the words pantry OR recipe.
  • yogurt + yoghurt + yogut – Results will include alternative spellings (yogurt or yoghurt) plus common misspellings.
  • lunch - box – Results will include the word lunch, but exclude the word box. This is useful when searching a term that’s part of a phrase that is flooding the web and risks dominating your results.

    To include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, close variations of the term and translations in any language, select topics rather than search terms.
  1. Refining your results using categories. If you're using Google Trends to search for a word with multiple meanings, you can filter your results by category to get data for the version you’re looking for.

    Use case:If you search for “pickup,” you can add a category to indicate whether you mean goods collection service or a type of truck.

Automate your search

As you may be juggling family life and work, make every minute count and subscribe to a Google Trends alert to get automated email updates on topics and searches in your region.

Explore and find new insights today with Google Trends.

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