Google Trends has been a relatively popular tool among search marketers for years, yet still stands in the shadow of the SEO go-to, the Google Keyword Research Tool. But Google Trends has a lot to offer, and its usability recently increased with the merger of Google Insights in September 2012. The result is a comprehensive, visually pleasing comparison of keywords that can reveal a plethora of information.

In short, Google Trends and Insights is a free tool for searching keyword and search trend data to provide insight into human behavior and interests. The biggest benefit is it’s easy to use for the non-technical search marketers, yet offers huge opportunity for data geeks ready to dive into the nuances of search behavior. Here are few ways you can incorporate Google Trends and Insights into your/your clients’ search and content marketing strategy today.

 

Compare Brands or Interests

Search volume is a fantastic indicator of what’s hot and what’s not, and one of the most useful features is ‘interest over time’ stretching back to 2004. If we compare iPhone and Blackberry for example, we can see the growth in mobile over time and also the cultural shift towards the iPhone phenomena.  You could even identify the exact month where the iPhone overtook Blackberry and never looked back.

 

Sourcing Blog and Social Media Content

Always struggling to creative fresh, quality content in line with what your readers are looking for? Check out ‘Hot Searches’ in Google Trends’ sidebar for a few ideas, or search your keywords to find other relevant interests or search terms that could direct your content on blogs or social media.

 

Find Patterns in Search Behavior

Knowing cyclical patterns and search volume are essential in developing campaigns of all sorts – from PPC to social, and even on-site evaluations to determine if your focus from last year is still valid. Google Trends and Insights allow you to see how these patterns (for example, the seasonality for terms such as sports) that can affect search traffic revealing when a particular product, topic or event is on people’s minds and in their search bars. This is a key component of monitoring and staying up date with your customers’ behavior. But remember to get creative, as asking the right questions will bring the right answers.

Break into a New Market

Where your customers are searching from can reveal new markets or emerging opportunities for your company, which you can discover with the map of regional interests. Getting regional trends on this large scale is definitely important, but you can also dig deeper into states, cities, etc on a local level to target much more accurately.

 

Predict the future, Sort of.

When looking at the ‘Interest Over Time’ graph, the Forecast feature can help give an idea of where your keywords are heading. Although the forecasted changes will probably not be drastic, you may find some surprises the deeper you dig. Toggling back and forth between News Headlines and Forecast tabs can help drive your content marketing strategy’s big picture.

 

All of these patterns and search behaviors tell a story. It’s harnessing this story with the power of keywords that can bring your business to the forefront of search. How will you use Google Trends and Insights?