What Is Google Trends and How Does It Work?

Learn about Google search trends and top and keywords

Google Trends is a powerful research tool you can use to see the popularity of specific Google search terms over a period of time and a specific geography.

When you use Google Trends to research a search term, you'll see the popularity of that term over time. But the real power of Google Trends comes from comparing search terms so you can see their popularity relative to one another.

How Do Google Keyword Trends Work?

When you first visit Google Trends, you'll see that the main page is filled with the the keyword that are trending on Google in your part of the world. The most interesting areas of this page is the Recently trending section.

Screenshot of Recently trending in Google Trends

When there are major global events, like the COVID-19 virus, Google sometimes crafts a specific section or page exploring all of the current search trends around that topic.

To start digging down into specific search terms you're interested in, you'll need to type those terms in the field that reads Enter a search term or topic and press Enter.

This will show you how interest in that search term (relative to itself) has trended over the past 12 months.

Screenshot of Google Trends search results

This page tells you all of the following information about any search term you query.

  • Interest over the last 12 months
  • Interest by your subregion of the world
  • Other popular search topics and queries related to your query

You can customize the subregion to show by metro or city and you can sort all lists by whether trends are rising or falling.

Understanding Google Search Trends

It's important to understand when you look at the trending chart in Google Trends, you're not looking at actual search numbers.

The numbers on the left of the chart are from 0 to 100. This represents the level of interest for just that search term, over the period of time on the chart.

  • 0 represents no interest relative to the highest interest in the timeframe.
  • 100 represents the highest level of interest in that term during that timeframe.

For a single term, this may not seem like it's very useful. However what this view can show you is whether there are any annual seasonal spikes during the year.

If you want to see whether the seasonal trend repeats every year, change the Past 12 Months dropdown to past 5 years, or from the beginning of when that trend data first started.

Screenshot of multi-year Google Trends chart

When you see evenly spaced spikes of interest from year to year, that represents a seasonal interest spike.

Comparing Terms Using Google Search Data

You can get significantly more value from using Google Trends by comparing similar search terms.

For example, if you've searched for "best android apps", and you're curious whether that term is more or less popular than "best ios apps", Google Trends can help.

To add a search term, select Compare at the top of the Explore window and type the second search term.

Screenshot of comparing Google Trends terms

This view is a very useful indication of how much more popular some search terms are than others relative to one another. By using other search terms as a baseline, this approach can help you better identify search terms that are extremely popular across the entire internet.

This is especially true if you already know of existing search terms that are very popular. You can use those popular search terms as a comparison baseline.

How to Use Google Trends

When you identify very popular search terms, or seasonal trends, how can you then use those to improve traffic on your website, or draw more visitors to your online business?

You can use the information you learn form Google Trends for your own site or business in the following ways.

  • If a comparison of multiple terms shows that one term is very popular, focus your blog or website articles on that topic.
  • If a topic has seasonal search interest, focus on publishing your articles at the beginning of those sesons.
  • If you sell products online, time your sales efforts based on the seasonal interest in those products.
  • If you run a local business like a lawn service business, boost your local advertising efforts at the beginning of the season when searches related to lawn services are the highest.
  • Local businesses should use the geographic filters in Google Trends to identify trends for their local communities rather than the entire internet.

Make sure you fully understand how to use all of the features available in Google Trends.

Google Trends is a powerful tool for identifying public interest trends not only over the entire internet, but in your local community too. This information is very useful for anyone running a website or blog, or even small business owners.