Google Trends SEO Explained: How To Use Trends For Keyword Research


Google Trends is a search platform that shows the popularity of a search term over a chosen period in a selected region. It provides insights into demographic information along with related topics and queries. Google Trends also allows you to compare multiple search terms to see which ones are performing better than others.


The Google Trends home page has the latest stories and insights that are created from Google search data. It also shows recently trending searches and has the “Year in Search” feature, which allows you to see what the most popular searches were in a given year. These home page features can help you find interesting insights without even having to perform a search of your own. 


So how does Google Trends work? While many people think that the data they are seeing is the direct volume of search queries for that word over time, it actually shows the relative popularity in the form of a ratio. Google Trends takes a particular query’s search volume and divides it by the total number of searches completed in the given time period and geographic region. The resulting ratio is then scaled on a range of 0-100, which is used to create the graph you see. Also, Google Trends deletes data from repeat searches from the same person over a short period of time to give a more accurate representation of search popularity. 


Knowing this information about how Google Trends calculates its data, there are two important takeaways to consider. The first is that search term popularity changes when the search query’s volume changes. The second is that search term popularity also changes when the total number of searches changes, even if the search query’s volume is constant. 


How Is The Data Adjusted? What Does a Value of 100 Mean?


As we just discussed, the data that Google Trends uses is converted into a ratio and then scaled on a range of 0-100. But interpreting the meaning of the numbers from 0-100 can be tricky if you aren’t exactly sure what they mean. 


When looking at the graph of search interest over time, the point where the chart reaches 100 is the peak popularity of the search. At this point, the ratio of queries for the specific search term to the total number of searches conducted in the region is the highest it has ever been during that period. So, the point on the graph where search interest is equal to 50 shows that the search term was half as popular at that point in time. If the score is 0 that means there was not a sufficient amount of data to analyze the selected term. 



When you search for a keyword on Google Trends, the first thing you’ll see is a graph that shows how the popularity of that term has fluctuated over the past 12 months. Along the X-axis, you’ll see time broken down by dates, and on the Y-axis, you’ll see the scale of 0-100, which was discussed in the previous section.

The line will fluctuate in position over the time period with peaks showing an increase in the popularity of a search term and dips showing a decrease in popularity. Also, you have the option to change the time period of data on the graph to the past hour, 4 hours, day, week, month, 90 days, 5 years, or 2004-present.

Discovering regional and international differences in keyword popularity

The results also provide you with a map that allows you to see the popularity of a topic in any individual country or worldwide. From there, you can break up the results by region, subregion, metro area, or city. The results will then be listed from most popular to least popular next to the map. Keep in mind that a higher value means a higher proportion of query searches in comparison to the total number of searches in that geographic region, not a higher number of total searches. This information can be beneficial if you are looking to create targeted advertisements for a specific geographic region because you see which cities and states have the highest interest in your chosen keyword or topic. 


Understanding Top, Rising & Breakout queries

At the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find a list of related topics and a list of related queries. Both of these lists can be sorted by either “Top” or “Rising” Criteria. When you sort the list using the “Rising” feature, the results will show the topics or queries that had the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period at the top. Topics or queries labeled “Breakout” had a tremendous increase in search frequency. When you sort the lists using the “Top” feature, the results will show topics or queries that are most popular using the 0-100 scale at the top. 

It is also important to note that when conducting a search on Google Trends, there is a difference between a search term and a topic. A search term is a specific result that only includes the relative search volume of matches for all terms in your query in the language given. A topic is a group of search terms that share the same concept  or entity, in any language. Keep in mind the search terms and topics are measured differently, so if you try to compare a search term to a topic, it won’t be as accurate as if you were to compare a search term to a search term or a topic to a topic. 



While it is always essential to conduct traditional and thorough keyword research, Google Trends can help you find new trending keywords that are experiencing growth in popularity. There are a couple of different ways you can go about this. 


The first option is to go to the “Trending Searches” page on Google Trends. Here you will see daily search trends starting with the current day. This will show a list of the top trending topics that have jumped significantly in traffic over the past 24 hours so that you can see what people are most interested in right now. This list is updated hourly. Included with each topic is the absolute number of searches made and related news stories so that you can find more information. If you scroll down, you will find the trending topics of previous days. This page is helpful if you are looking for new trending keywords that are related to popular culture or current events. 


Also on the “Trending Searches” page is a tab for realtime search trends. Here you can see stories that have been trending across Google over the past 24 that are updated in realtime. You can also see a graph for each topic that shows how the popularity of the topic has fluctuated over the past 24 hours, along with links to news stories. The biggest difference between the realtime search trends and the daily search trends is that realtime search trends allow you to break down the data into categories. The default shows you trends from all categories, but you can choose to see topics specifically from business, entertainment, health, sci/tech, sports, or top stories. This function could be very useful for finding new trending keywords that are more closely related to your business’s industry or sector. 



Earlier, we discussed how you could track interest in a search term over time using Google Trends by adjusting the time frame to your desired period. This is an important feature because it can show you whether a keyword is growing or declining in popularity over time. Acquiring this knowledge can make or break a keyword. 


For example, say you go through your keyword research process and find a keyword that you think is a winner for your business. It has a high search volume, low difficulty, and a high organic CTR. You plan on writing a content piece centered around this keyword. But then you go to Google Trends to check out how this keyword has been performing over time and see that its popularity has been steadily declining over the past 5 years. You might not want to put the time and effort into writing about that keyword anymore if you know that traffic isn’t going to be increasing.

Every business is different, and this find might not always steer you away from targeting the keyword, but it is still valuable information to have. Tracking search interest over time allows you to see the bigger picture and not just how the keyword is performing in the present moment. 


Another benefit of tracking search interest over time is that it helps you identify recurring patterns. This will show if there is significant seasonality related to a search term that you should take into consideration. For example, the search term “school supplies” peaks every year in August. Knowing this information, if you are a business that sells school supplies, you’ll know to optimize your website, content pieces, inventory and advertisements for this keyword in July and August.

This is a rather obvious example, but you may be able to find recurring patterns of interest for your business as well if you take a look at your different keywords in Google Trends. For the most accurate data, be sure to set the time frame for 2004-present as this is the largest sample size available. 


Compare The Relative Popularity of Search Terms


Google Trends allows you to compare the relative popularity of up to five different search terms by simply typing in one term and then clicking the compare button to add more terms. Once you have entered all the terms you want to compare, you will find a graph that compares the relative popularity of the terms on a scale of 0-100 with a line that shows how the popularity of each term has changed over time. There is also a map that allows you to compare search term popularity by subregion, metro area, or city. This makes it very easy to see which places prefer one search term over another. Lastly, you can also see related search queries for each of the search terms you chose.


One way you could use this comparison tool is to see how you stack up against your competition. By typing in your brand name along with the brand names of a couple of your competitors, you can easily see who has been performing better during specific time periods or in a particular city or state. 


You could also compare the relative popularity of different keywords to aid in your keyword research process. If you are stuck deciding between a few different keywords and are unsure which might be the best to focus on, you could compare them using Google Trends. While there are other criteria you need to look at when making keyword decisions, this is a quick way to see how each keyword has evolved in popularity over time and what region it might perform best in.

A killer way to use the keyword comparison tool is to estimate search volumes on new or forbidden keywords. It can be nigh impossible to get accurate search volumes for a brand new or trending keyword - and anything Google might not allow advertisers to bid on, such a CBD oil, are often hidden from Adwords search volumes entirely. But if you take an inoffensive keyword you know that has consistent search volume and compare it to your mystery term you can get an idea of the relative popularity. If the peak of a trending term is 5x that of your well known keyword then you should probably get writing!



Google Trends makes it very easy for you to view data by geographic region and understand how popularity for a search term varies by location. This can be very helpful for getting a better understanding of where your business’s products or services are the most popular or most needed. 


Start by simply typing the name of your product or service into the search bar. Then scroll down to the map section of the page and decide if you would like to see the search term interest breakdown by subregion, metro area, or city. From here, you can easily identify where your product or service is being searched for the most. This information can help you choose where you should target your PPC ads and can give you ideas about location-specific content that you could create. 


Another method you can use to analyze the popularity of a term in a certain location is to use the search filters. After you type in the term you want to search for, click the three dots on the right-hand side of the box and click the “change filters” button. Here you can type in any location that you want to see data for. This works for both individual terms and for comparing terms. You can choose different locations and use the same term multiple times if you want to see how the term varies over time in different places. This could help you see if interest in your product or service is increasing in one city but declining in another city so that you can make informed marketing decisions. 




As you can see, Google Trends can be used for a wide variety of different tasks. Although the data can be a little tricky to interpret at first, once you truly understand what you are looking at the information you find can help inform many business and marketing decisions. 


The trending searches page and the related queries and topics sections can help you brainstorm new keyword ideas. The graph can help you understand if a keyword is growing or declining in popularity over time and can help you identify important trends such as seasonality. The map shows you where certain keywords are performing best, which can help make location-based business decisions. Comparing keywords can show you how you stack up against competitors and if certain keywords are performing better than others. 


Overall, Google Trends is a great tool to facilitate brainstorming, planning, and decision making. Don’t be afraid to play around and experiment with all of the different functions Google Trends has to offer. You never know what valuable insights you might find that can help your business get one step ahead of the competition!