What Is Google Trends and How Can it Help with SEO?

Sarah McInerney

Head of Content

Sarah has almost three decades of experience in crafting compelling, engaging content specifically designed to boost sales and enhance brand loyalty. She’s also an expert in developing unique tone of voice that helps brands connect with their audiences. Her marketing and client service background has given Sarah a natural understanding of how to write content that makes readers take action. Whether it’s signing up to a mailing list, making an enquiry or donation or clicking the buy button, Sarah knows precisely how to convert with words. Pen down, Sarah is a proud member of the Essex Wildlife Trust and spends most of her free time enjoying inspiring walks through her local woodland and nature reserves, admiring everything that flaps, flutters and flowers.

Google Trends is a free Google tool that helps you see how popular specific searches are in Google and YouTube. First launched in 2006, Trends has been through a variety of updates, but it remains a hugely useful tool for content creators and SEOs alike.

Here’s a look at how Google Trends can enrich your search engine optimisation efforts by delivering insightful keyword data around up-to-the-minute trends.

Google Trends

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How to Use Google Trends for SEO

Google Trends can be used in a number of ways to support SEO campaigns. And it’s a dab hand at helping you plan a content calendar too based on topics that people are searching for in real time.

Here are a few ways in which you can use Google Trends…

Find search volume trends

If you’re wondering how to use Google trends for SEO, simply type a keyword into the search bar, and you’ll see the search trends for that keyword over the past 12 months. You can adjust this to show trends for a longer period if you wish, which will help you distinguish between trends and fads. Expanding the date range will also help you identify seasonal keywords, and avoid them if you wish.

Using the related topics element of this tool helps you find keywords that are becoming popular, so you can create content around the very subjects that people are searching for. If you used a regular keyword research tool, you wouldn’t see these valuable trends, just a search volume.

Google Trends can also help you avoid using keywords that are declining in popularity.

How to Use Google Trends for SEO

Find related keywords

Whilst you can also see how a keyword is trending by using the Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends will show you newly trending keywords.

Simply type in your search, then scroll down to the related queries section. Here you’ll find closely related keywords, but not just any old related keywords… trending keywords. These are the keywords that are trending for the search term, ‘artificial intelligence’, for example.

Google Trends Related Queries AI

You’ll also see a graph showing topic interest over time.

The numbers represent search interest related to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. 100 is where the search term peaked. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 denotes that there was insufficient data for this term.

Google Trends Interest Over Time

Find breakout keywords

Sometimes, Google replaces the growth percentage with the word ‘breakout’. This means that Google doesn’t have sufficient search volume data to give you meaningful results.

Any search that is growing by more than 5000 per cent will be marked as breakout rather than noting the precise percentage. These breakout keywords are valuable, because they are not yet competitive. So if you use them in your content, you could net yourself a spot on Google’s Page One results relatively easily before the keyword hits the mainstream.

The only thing is, some breakout keywords will be fads, showing growth for just a short period of time, then disappearing off the radar. So do bear this in mind.

Google Trends Breakout Keywords

Breakout Keywords for the search query, ‘ChatGPT AI’

Reveal related topics

If you’re looking for ideas for blog or video content, the related topics feature in Google Trends will help massively. These are all the topics that Google considers closely related to your search term.

From these, you could potentially create a whole blog, video or social media content series. You’ll need to further investigate the topics to find specific keywords, but you will benefit from the related topics, which can be tricky to come up with on your own.

For example, if you’re looking to create content around ‘London days out’, then you’ll be able to see precisely what’s trending here:

Google Trends London days out related topics rising

And if you change ‘rising’ to ‘top’, then you’ll see topics that aren’t necessarily increasing in popularity, but that are consistently seeing large volumes of monthly searches:

Google Trends London days out related topics top

Identify local search trends

The ‘interest by sub-region’ feature in Google Trends allows you to see in which location your search term was most popular during your timeframe. Values appear on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the greatest popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location. A value of 50 indicates a location that is half as popular.

If you run a local business that serves a specific area, such as London, then you will definitely want to look closely at search volumes and trends for that particular area, because this data can and does vary from one region or city to another.

These results for example show that the ‘London Days Out’ search query was most popular in London, but that there are obviously people planning a visit to the capital in Wales and Scotland who are keen to get their itineraries together before they make the trip.

Google Trends London Days Out Interest by Sub Region

This feature can also be very helpful when it comes to finding keywords for a local SEO campaign, and to check whether there is a demand for a particular service in a certain area. For example, ‘SEO’.

Google Trends SEO by Sub Region City

Come up with fresh keyword ideas

Google Trends can be used for more than just searching a particular keyword. You can also use its ‘Trending Now’ feature.

This will show you live data for searches that have peaked during the past 24 hours. The only thing to beware of with this approach is that the majority of these keywords could well be passing fads, which could make it a waste of time creating content around them, unless you are running a timely social media campaign or operating a news site.

If you use the category drop-down though, then you can narrow down the search to your niche industry, for example Health, Sport, Business or Entertainment, which can help filter out the breaking news centred keywords that don’t have legs.

Find related keywords

Related, or LSI keywords, are search terms related to the main keyword you are targeting.

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a system that analyses the words being used around a given topic. Google’s algorithm uses LSI keywords – words and phrases closely linked to a target topic – to help determine the quality of content and its relevance to the search term.

For Google, it’s all about ensuring web users find what they are looking for, rather than what they searched for.

Compare search terms

Google Trends allows you to compare the popularity of up to five different search terms by simply typing one term in and then using the compare button to add more terms. Don’t forget, it’s measuring and comparing keyword popularity rather than keyword search volume.

The compare feature is useful because it can show you how well one brand is stacking up against another. Try typing in your brand name and comparing to a few competitors, and you’ll see who’s been performing best during specific times or in particular locations.

You can also use this tool to compare the popularity of different keywords, which is a great help for your keyword research strategy. Say you’re unsure when choosing between few different keywords, compare them using Google Trends and you’ll see which are the most popular. Whilst there are naturally other factors you need to consider when coming up with your keyword strategy, this is a fast and simple way to discover how each keyword has evolved in popularity over time, and what location it might perform best in.

In this example, we can see that the keyword London caterers is, on average, more popular over time than catering services London. However, there are times when the latter takes over in popularity.

Google Trends London Catering Services

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