One of my favorite tools to use is Google Trends. If you’re not familiar with this free (yep … FREE!) tool, then I would encourage you to bookmark it in your web browser and use it from time to time as you discuss, modify, and land on specific keywords that drive your digital strategy.

What Is Google Trends?

Google Trends measures search volume of keywords or phrases. If Google is the number one search engine and the first place most people go to find the information they need, then indexing search volume and our ability to quickly compare different words or phrases are vital to being found online.

Essentially, our ability to identify the words other people are using to find—or not find—you or your brand, business, or cause is the difference between being found organically within searches or being buried deep within the Google ecosystem forever.

If you’re new to the marketing world, this type of functionality is EPIC. It used to only be available to big companies who could afford to staff people who loved doing things like polynomial regression analysis and interpretive analytics. (If you’ve ever met someone who can make data “dance” in a spreadsheet or complex model, you know what I mean.)

But now this keyword research process is now available to you … today … at no cost. And Google Trends pulls from the largest data pool possible which helps with the integrity of the results you will discover.

What Google Trends Will Tell You

  • What words or phrases people are using when searching within Google
  • How those words or phrases compare to similar words or phrases
  • Which words or phrases dominate the keywords you’re considering as part of your SEO or digital strategy

How To Use Google Trends

  • Compare your keyword choice with actual search data. It’s easy to think the language of our insulated communities matches the habits of others. This is not always the case.
  • Validate your current SEO, SEM, or overall digital strategy. If you’re not getting the traction you’d like, perhaps you’re not using this right words—or the right combination of words. This tool will help you begin to shape your ideas around the keywords you’re using the keywords which are trending.
  • Learn the language of the people who need your products or services. The inbound marketing revolution means people want to—and will—find you first. But if you’re not using the words and phrases they’re using to search for you, then you’ll likely never be considered. When you are absent in a search, you don’t exist.

It’s not enough to follow the language patterns that “your gut” tells you is right. Don’t confuse Google Trends with being trendy … as in fashionable. This tool will tell you what’s happening, which may or may not challenge your perception of reality.

A Real World Example

I do a fair amount of work at the intersection of technology, communications, and fundraising. Three words that are heavily taxed in this niche are: fundraising, stewardship, and generosity. The word that some experts champion is generosity while others prefer stewardship. Especially in religious circles, most people steer clear of the often clinical term fundraising for fear of it being offensive to potential donors. However, let’s see what Google Trends tells us about the use of these three words.

Image displays actual search results.

Image displays actual search results.

From 2004 to the present, it appears most people actually use the word fundraising based on search activity of these three common terms.

Does that mean people in this niche should stop using words like generosity or stewardship? Of course not! What this means is you might want to consider incorporating the word fundraising—even if it makes you uncomfortable—into your digital keyword strategy so more people will have the opportunity to find you.

A good rule of thumb to remember is this: Just because a keyword may be your choice doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s choice. Don’t project your preferences on others.

Who Benefits The Most From Google Trends?

  • Writers
  • Communication Directors
  • Content Strategists
  • SEO Consultants
  • Marketing Specialists
  • PR Professionals

Why focus on these people and positions? Because these are often the people within an organization—or contracted by an organization—who are responsible for creating, maintaining, and evaluating digital content. Part of any digital strategy is constantly refining the word choices we use to ensure we are using words that will help our content be discovered by those we are desperate to connect to and can benefit from what we have to offer.

Are you confident the keyword choices you’ve made are consistent with the search habits of people you’re trying to reach? If those two things don’t match up, you risk being never being found.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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