When developing your online strategy, the need for specific keyword interest and indicators is vital. Google Trends is a simple, yet powerful tool that can help you gain some keh insights into your marketplace and assist you in creating a solid online marketing plan. This is a simple step by step guide to Google Trends that can be used to mine some very important data.

Where Google Trends really shines

Google Trends allows you to search for keyword – or search term – popularity on the search engine over time. It also provides you with detailed data on the regional interest and search density for your keyword, as well as popular related keywords worth targeting.

This data can provide a solid jumping off point into online strategy development on a number of levels. For one, you can quickly identify search term trends to target in your AdWords campaigns, your website content or landing pages. By being able to figure out how and where users are most likely to search for the services or products you offer, you can create a much more focused plan of action – and ultimately increase conversions.

Google Trends also offers you the ability to see how user search trends change over time, which can give you insight into when the best time to run your AdWords campaigns is. Finally, for local businesses, the regional interest data can help you identify which cities to focus your marketing efforts on – especially if you are capable of offering your services and products to them.

How it’s done

Let’s say you are a car insurance broker based in Toronto, Canada and you are thinking of running an AdWords campaign to try and expand your existing client base. You’ll also be using a focused landing page for the ads, which you’re also hoping can give you some organic traction. And because you have a limited budget, you want to make sure that every dollar counts.


Google Trends Front Page

First, you’ll make your way to the Google Trends page. Depending on where you’re searching from, you’ll be redirected to a slightly more localized version. For our example we’ll be typing in the generic and most obvious keyword phrase into the search bar at the top: “car insurance”.


Google Trends Results Page

Here’s what you’ll see starting off. We’ll need to make some changes before we get the data we need.


Google Trends Location Select

Start off by click on the “Worldwide” right under the search bar and selecting Ontario through the drop-downs.


Google Trends Location Results

Right about now, you should be noticing something with the timeline chart. There’s a very specific time pattern in the search popularity that’s been repeating consistently since data collection began.


Google Trends Timeline

July scores as the highest averaged ranking month over the entire timeline, and generally, it appears that users are searching more often for car insurance between March and September. It’s no surprise of course, winters in Ontario are brutal – but it does give us some very important data to keep in mind.


Google Trends Regional Interest

Next, we’ll glance at the Regional Interest section. As a local, you will also notice something a little strange – Brampton (which is a suburban city of Toronto) actually outranks Toronto in search popularity for our keyword, even though its population is much smaller. This would give you an indication of where to focus your campaigns on, especially since the location of your office may not play that big of a part in where your customers are. It also gives you a good idea of which location specific keywords to include in your landing page.


Google Trends Related Searches

Finally, we’ll take a look at the related searches results. On the left you’ll see the Top Related Search Terms, and on the right the Rising Search Terms. It might be a good idea to try an integrate some of these terms into our graph to see how they’re performing. Let’s start of by ignoring broad regional terms, such as “ontario car insurance”, and company specific ones, such as “td car insurance”.


Google Trends Detailed Timeline

“Cheap car insurance”, “car insurance quotes” and “auto insurance” work fairly well. Right away, you can see that both ‘car’ and ‘auto’ are interchangeable search terms that should be targeted. They both also exhibit the same time based search pattern we previously covered.


Google Trends Detailed Regional

You can scroll back down to the Regional Interest portion again and can now jump between your keywords from the top grey bar. It looks like “cheap car insurance” is an extremely popular search term in Brampton, outranking Toronto by almost 50 points. And since we know Brampton is a key area to target, we’d probably make sure to focus on the price in our content and AdWords copy to gain more impact.


Google Trends Detailed Related

You can also jump between your search terms in the Related Searches section. This can help you find new keyword phrases to add to the search and get more detailed insights from.

What we’ve learned

So – what we’re left with after this basic search is quite a bit of very good knowledge. For one, we know that it’s probably a good idea to try and focus our campaign during the months when the search terms are most popular; between March and September. Of course, the more popular the search is, the higher your AdWords bids might get – so you can also use the time data to identify a time period to run your campaign that’s not too competitive, but also not too slow.

We’ve also learned that we’d probably want to target Brampton residents, and make sure we focus on competitive and affordable prices in our Ad and landing page copy. There’s also a trove of related keywords and phrases we’ve discovered which we can make sure to target as well. And, let’s not forget, we’ve learned that both “car” and “auto” are used almost equally when users are searching for insurance – so we’ll need to make sure to use those interchangeably through different Ad Groups keywords, ad copy and on our Landing page.

This type of analysis is vital when developing your online marketing strategy, and will help you maximize your ad spend dollars, understand your users and find the niche content direction you should be moving in. You can apply this guide to almost any type of service or product you offer – the fundamentals are the same: by finding out who searches for what and where, you can build a strong foundation for all of your campaigns and content initiatives.

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Photo Credit: Flickr user Lauren Manning – Walking ad for Moleskine all the time CC BY 2.0