A very wise business owner I know frequently talks about search volume and search trends when discussing Internet marketing and in particular search engine optimization. He is a data guy, an entrepreneur, and a highly technical individual who always looks beyond simple numbers to peek behind them or even in front of them. He wants to see changes before they occur and wants to know the future so that he can react quickly. He is smart and has used this business practice to ride out storms and downturns.
That being said, we Internet marketing consultants know that this request is not necessarily realistic. You cannot predict that a famous person will die or that Twitter will be attached and plan for a huge peak in web searches and resulting traffic around such events. You can however, peak into the future if you pay attention to search trending.
Thanks to Google – yes I know I can’t seem to talk enough about Google these days – this is possible. Google Trends allows you to input one or more search terms and see trending data of these searches. In the example I tried, I entered Internet marketing, search engine optimization, and website promotion to compare the trends. Google Trends quickly gave me a relative rating of these terms based on search volume and rated Internet marketing a 1.0, search engine optimization a .50 and website promotion a .08. This validated what I believed, which was more people search for Internet marketing than they do for website promotion. More importantly it told me that these three terms stay fairly consistent with few dips and spikes in search activity. What I didn’t expect it to tell me was that Nevada was the highest subregion. This I am still contemplating.
While my test didn’t show anything significant, a test of the search term “Christmas decorations” did certainly provide insight and validate my own behavior. In fact, I will use this information come fall to show my husband that I am not insane or outside the norm. If you trend Christmas decorations as a search term, you will see a large spike occurs in late November and not December 24th as my husband would wager. We Americans begin thinking, buying, and decorating around Thanksgiving. It isn’t by chance that the stores start filling the shelves with Christmas décor this early in the season. They have marketing departments and they watch the buying trends of the consumer.
So if you want a peek into the search future of your product or service offering, take a moment to review Google Trends. If you see a decline in search terms over time, there is most likely a reason. Case in point is Web 2.0 and social media. The world was a buzz about Web 2.0 and then it seemed to dip, as social media seemed to rev itself up. Or at least this was my perception. While I not always accurate in my assumptions, I was correct in this assumption and Google Trends validated this for me as July 2009 activity showed social media overtake Web 2.0 in searches. Again validating what I already believed to be the case. I’d share this with my husband as well, but he will certainly ask me why he cares about Web 2.0 or social media. At least with Christmas decorations,our discussion can last more than a nanosecond.