How to use Google Trends for SEO in 2020 : Tips, Trends and Traffic

How to use Google Trends for SEO in 2020 : Tips, Trends and Traffic

When developing and implementing SEO strategies, various tools, techniques, and methods are used. Among them is Google Trends, an effective tool for tracking trends and research and performing analyses. Read on to learn about this multifunctional service and how to use Google Trends for SEO.

What is Google Trends and how does it work?

Google Trends is a free tool that provides data on the popularity of certain queries on Google and YouTube search engines, depending on time and territory. With it, you can perform the following:

  1. Identification of the most popular and trending topics of search queries;
  2. Analysis of seasonality or the influence of certain factors on a market or niche;
  3. Identification of the geographical and regional specifics of user behavior; and
  4. Obtaining statistical information in real time for a certain period (from days to several years).

Google Trends was first introduced on May 11, 2006. Two years later, on August 5, 2008, a more advanced version of the service was launched– Google Insights for Search. This tool analyzed data from search queries and graphically displayed search trends on a map of the country. On September 27, 2012, Google combined both analytic tools in Google Trends and provided data based on an analysis of 1.2 trillion queries per year.

By 2016, the number of search queries on Google has grown to 5 trillion per year, which is 5.5 billion queries per day and 167 billion monthly queries. An analysis of such a huge database can provide representative information since Google has retained 90% of the market over the past ten years.

Since 2009, Google Trends data has been being used in scientific research. One of the first occasions of this was a study by J. Ginzberg et al., published in the Nature journal. It showed that with the help of Google Trends it is possible to track and predict the dynamics of the spread of influenza with much greater speed and accuracy than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can.  


During the 2020 pandemic, Google released a special tool called Coronavirus Search Trends to monitor queries related to Covid-19.


The first page shows the most popular queries in the world, the percentage shows the dynamics of growth over the last time – a month, day and hour in the world or in certain countries:

Coronavirus Search Trends

The comparative schedule of requests in the United States since the beginning of 2020 shows how much higher the number of requests on the topic of coronavirus is compared to other popular topics:

Coronavirus Search Trends

The following are trending questions related to coronavirus for the past four months separately in the US and in the world, as well as a graph of the popularity of queries related to Covid19 symptoms:

Google Trends data shows how a pandemic has affected society, causing economic chaos and uncertainty: 

Also, the service demonstrates graphs and regional distribution of requests in the USA on the most relevant topics related to coronavirus and notes the main trends in society.

  1. Testing for Coronavirus is being searched for across the country.
  2. Schools are closed across America.
  3. States and countries are debating whether to reopen or stay shut down.

After reviewing detailed data on the USA, the service presents a block where you can get data on COVID-related requests in all countries of the world:

Moreover, Google presents a page with statistics on search queries where it shows the data on the top queries of the last month in the USA, in the world, as well as on certain topics: 

  1. How to…searches;
  2. Trending video games;
  3. Trending video games;
  4. Recipes and bread;
  5. Exercise-related searches; and 
  6. Trending movies, shows, documentaries.

Separately, there is data on countries and cities where there were the most requests for coronavirus information. In April, Ethiopia, Qatar, and Nepal reached the top, with Indian Mumbai, Bangalore, and New Delhi leading among the cities.

Results for all requests related to the pandemic occurs in the Google Alert format, where the COVID-19 marker is highlighted in red:

How does Google Trends work?

To work effectively with Google Trends, you should understand the features of the service’s functionality and the answer to, “how does Google Trends work? The home page allows to get acquainted with the most relevant information and the most popular Google Trends words for the last day:

Below is a list of popular queries and their approximate number:

When you click on the selected request, it opens relevant links and detailed information:

Graph of the popularity of requests for the previous 7 days in the United States with details on subregions (states):

Google clarifies that each data item is divided by the total number of all requests in a particular region so that the indicators do not depend on how intensively people use Google.

The query frequency index is calculated in relation to the maximum number of queries in a given region or in the world, which is taken as 100%.

Google Trends data is available in the following categories:

  1. Requests for the current period, starting from the last hour and for any time interval (after 2004);
  2. Requests by territory: statistics around the world, region, and/or smaller area (country, subregion, metro, city);
  3. In a selected thematic category (listed in alphabetical order); and
  4. By web-search category (Image, News, Google Shopping, YouTube, etc.).

Let’s analyze how the service works and how to read Google Trends using a specific example. Type Samsung Galaxy in your search bar, select the time period of 90 days, and see that such a request was made in Afghanistan, Cameroon, and Pakistan most often.

At the same time, a sharp drop in the number of requests occurred on February 14, 2020, and since then the indicator has not returned to its original level, however, it looks pretty stable. If you check the number of search queries for iPhone 11, you can see that most often such a query is made from the UAE, Qatar, and Nepal.

Another useful feature is the comparison of search questions, which allows you to track trends and compare indicators and trends among competitors. For example, a comparative graph for queries Samsung Galaxy and iPhone 11 looks like this:

If you are interested in the statistics for a specific query, you should use the Google Search operators, which will allow you to specify the search criteria.

  1. Using quotes gives a command to preserve the sequence of given words and avoids similar queries that do not quite correspond to the essence. So, in the case of the query “wooden furniture for kitchen” the sequence of words would not change.
  2. A minus sign (-) placed before the word excludes it from the search. For example, entering the sequence wooden furniture for kitchen -ikea will exclude options indicating this brand from the search. If you put (-) next to the word kitchen, then this excludes the search for topics related to the kitchen as a room, interior, etc.
  3. The OR operator, written in caps between two words in the query, means that you need to look for either pieces of information, since by default Google implies AND between two nouns. You can also use the vertical strip (|). For example, wooden OR plastic furniture for kitchen or wooden | plastic furniture for kitchen.
  4. Using parentheses will allow you to group the operators in the desired sequence: (wooden OR plastic) furniture for -kitchen.

Operator functions can be especially useful when analyzing and selecting keywords, which will be discussed below.

Google Trends allows you to effectively analyze the seasonality, as well as the dynamics of changes in trends depending on circumstances. This example shows how to use Google Trends to assess the situation with requests for tourism and online shopping in the context of the Covid19 pandemic.

Comparison of travel requests to Hawaii and online purchases over the past 90 days:

The peak of inquiries about online purchases was on April 4, while the tourism topic became shortly relevant in Hawaii in mid-March. Most likely, these were requests from local representatives of the tourism industry who wanted to navigate the market situation.

New Interactive Tool– Rising Retail Category

On May 7, 2020, Google introduced a new interactive tool– Rising Retail Category, which can be called an extension or specialized addition to Google Trends.


The Rising Retail Categories service demonstrates what consumers are most often searching online for, what categories of products are becoming the most relevant, and tracks regional trends in consumer interest.

Rising Retail Categories data is updated daily, which allows you to see the current market dynamics. As with Google Trends, the most frequent query becomes the main criterion for calculating the popularity index and creating a ranking. So, yesterday, golf accessories became the most popular request in the USA:

The percentage next to the query shows how much its frequency has increased and the second window shows the top queries related to the main topic and their popularity rating.

Also, the tool shows the regions in which the request was most popular. Yesterday, residents of the states of Michigan, Illinois, and California were most interested in golf accessories.

Think with Google

Currently, Google’s Rising Retail Categories service is available for the US, UK, and Australia, but the number of countries will increase in the future. During a pandemic, consumer behavior changes quickly and frequently depending on the circumstances. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly analyze the mood of the target audience and monitor changes in market trends.

How to Use Google Trends for SEO

When creating and implementing an SEO strategy, many SEO tools are available to use. An efficient and trustworthy service like Google Trends should definitely be included in the SEO arsenal though.

In the above examples, we have already learned about how to use Google Trends for research and to track current trends in society and the market. The new Google Rising Retail Categories tool will help refine this information. In a period of disorder caused by this pandemic, analytics and trending skills will become a competitive advantage.

In the context of SEO, the data from Google Trends and Rising Retail Categories can be used both in developing an SEO strategy and in implementing regular activities such as creating content and generating keywords. Since Google Trends collects data according to a specific territory and period, regular monitoring will allow you to keep track of the most relevant topics of interest to your audience. Using user search queries as material for analysis makes Google Trends an excellent and free key search tool.

How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research

Keyword Optimization. After your keywords have been selected and optimized with the help of SEO-services, you can check their relevance in Google Trends and also use this tool to find additional trending keywords. A list of related questions is shown below the graph in Google Trends. Clicking on Rising will display a list of related questions with numbers that will reflect the popularity of the related words in the queries:

Adaptation of keywords and content depending on seasonality. As you know, the relevance of many requests varies depending on the season. This applies to the tourism sector, retail segments, e-commerce, and events organization. For example, the peak for the “sunglasses” request in the USA is in mid-July, while in New Zealand this topic becomes most popular in December when summer is in full swing there.

Graph for “Sunglasses” request in the USA:

Graph for “Sunglasses” request in New Zealand:

Based on this information, you can create special thematic content or optimize an existing one. It is advisable to start this activity a couple of months before the peak of interest in the topic and attract the attention of the audience using this content.

Keywords Checkup. When using Google Trends, it’s worth checking the keywords for relevance from time to time in order to notice if the relevance of queries has declined. Also, it is worth checking the relevance of keywords for a specific territory and optimization based on Google word popularity and regional specifics. For more information on how to improve local ranking.

Search for content ideas. This option will be especially relevant for blogs and information sites. Google Trends provides up-to-date information about what is currently peaking interests, as well as top news and news in a specific niche. Monitoring this information will allow you to catch an information wave or viral top content in time. This helps to attract an audience.

Content calendar. Using your query information in Google Trends, develop your publishing plan. For those who have a blog or an information portal, you should create a schedule taking into account requests that go to the top depending on certain events. For example, film festivals, championships, Oscar awards, and the Nobel prize delivery are held regularly. Each time they occur, they go to the top of the news for several consecutive days. Therefore, having analyzed the data of Google Trends of previous years, you can plan activity on your site that will perform well.   

Evaluating the effectiveness of SEO strategies. By regularly reviewing Google Trends data, you can monitor how content matches trends. If the subject matter of a blog or site is noticeably losing relevance, it is worth considering optimizing the content taking into account the interests of your audience. For example, you can add a new section to your site, create a thematic column, or add a block with regularly updated and relevant information.

It is worth noting that in the current crisis situation, strategic issues come to the fore, as many companies and individuals have to revise long-term projects, make adjustments, and change direction. Many SEO-specialists, like other professionals, are faced with the need to change their specialization due to current market conditions. The Google Trends tool will also be useful for this purpose.

How to Use Google Trends to Find a Niche

In order to navigate the choice of a niche, you should evaluate google trends data from several years. For example, let’s check our interest in sportswear:

The above graph shows that from March 15 to March 21, the decline in the number of requests for sportswear continued. However, at present, the curve is gradually moving up.

If you look at the graph for this request for 5 years, it can be seen that it is relatively stable during this period with explainable seasonal variations.

Given the positive dynamics of the last month and the general interest of US residents on this topic, it can be predicted that this niche will be quite prosperous.

If you look at the data for the same period for the Restaurant request, you will see the decrease at the end of March. Unfortunately, expressed positive dynamics are still not in sight.

In the five-year interval, the most prosperous period at the request of restaurant subjects lasts for 2 years from December 2017 to December 2019.

The sharp decline that followed was obviously associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and most likely, after quarantine, the level of interest in the restaurant sector will be restored. The previous stable period of two years allows you to make rather optimistic forecasts since visiting restaurants and cafes is a part of everyday life for many people.

By studying the data of Google Trends over a long period of time, you can assess how interest in a chosen niche has changed or stayed stable. This will allow you to make forecasts taking into account the model of user behavior on Google. You will also be able to see the data for a certain period related to some known situation, for example, during a local economic crisis or other non-standard episode. By tracking how user behavior has changed, you can apply these examples to assess the current situation and forecasts.

Нow to Use Google Trends for Market Research

Google Trends is an effective tool for marketing research in the following categories:

  1. Quantifying the level of interest in a brand, product, service, etc., and the dynamics of the requests;
  2. Comparative analysis with competitors in a certain niche;
  3. Regional analysis: the popularity of a brand, product, or service depending on the country or subregion;
  4. Analysis of the interests of the target audience;
  5. Planning for seasonal marketing activities;
  6. Researching potential new markets; and
  7. Planning a marketing strategy, research, and analysis project.

Google’s new consumer analytics tool, Rising Retail Categories, will also be very useful for marketing managers. It will help to build and adjust a marketing strategy depending on dynamically changing demand.

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to name Google Trends one of the most useful (free) research tools. It provides up-to-date data on a billion-dollar search engine audience from around the world. By including Google Trends in your set of work services, you can always stay updated on the latest trends. This will help in the development of your SEO plan, allow you to make adjustments on time, and prepare realistic forecasts.

About author
Leyla is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. She also worked at marketing - PR and advertising (about 7 years). She was so interested in IT, especially SEO. Now Leyla is deep in SEO, this sphere inspires her for new issues and researches.