Google Trends: What can it do for your business?

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Rather than just track your own performance, you can chart Google searches for your business alongside searches for your competitors – offering a snapshot of how you're faring in the market.

From seeing what's popular to keeping an eye on your competitors, Google Trends lets you view the world through Google's eyes.

Google handles a phenomenal 3.5 billion searches on average every day, and it's the first place many people turn to when they want to know something, find something or buy something. And thanks to Google Trends, which organises a large amount of this data, you can get insight into search behaviour so you can better focus your online efforts.

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What’s hot?

Google Trends makes it easy to see what people are searching for right now on Google and YouTube. “Trending Search” lists are available for each country and they're updated every few hours so you can follow trends during the day. You can also subscribe to alerts regarding certain search terms in specific countries.

Along with insight, Google Trends offers a wealth of historical data. You can dissect the Top Charts from years gone by, broken into key categories. It's also possible to dive into specific topics to chart their popularity over the last 10 years, with links to relevant news items.

From here it's easy to compare search terms and plot their popularity in a graph to see how people's interests have changed over time. A map of the world indicates regional trends – you can even press play to watch interest wax and wane in different countries. For further insight you might drill down on regions and cities to see exactly where interest is coming from.

So for example, an international automotive manufacturer could track searches for "sedan" versus "SUV" over time, with Google Trends revealing that interest in SUVs is growing faster, particularly in Australia. Meanwhile a small Australian business could look at interest in AFL in its region compared to NRL, and use that to make decisions regarding local sponsorships.

If you're contemplating expansion, Google Trends data can be a useful way to assess the demand for new products and services in various locations. Combined with web traffic tools like Google Analytics, Google Trends can also help you choose topics when writing blog content for your website or making your social media presence more topical.

How does your business rank?

Type your business type into Google Trends and you'll immediately see whether interest in your industry is growing. The graph makes it easy to identify seasonal spikes, plus there's a forecast feature that can extrapolate these trends into the future.

The “Related Searches” list offers further insight, indicating what people were actually looking for when they searched for your industry. You can rank related search terms by overall popularity or by growth, then drill down on individual terms to see which keywords and topics are sending people your way. It's a useful way to hone your website's Search Engine Optimisation.

How are your competitors performing?

Rather than just track your own performance, you can use search terms to chart Google searches for your bigger competitors – offering a snapshot of what’s driving traffic to their website.

Once again you can narrow these down to specific time frames and track what people are looking for when they search and how’s it’s changed over time. 

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