How to use Google Trends to measure what people are searching for on Google and compare popular search terms

ShutterstockUsing Google Trends, you can measure and compare popular search terms for a targeted audience.
  • You can use Google Trends to understand how often people are searching for certain terms or topics on Google.
  • Google Trends allows you to customise search data by region, time period, category, and type of search.
  • You can also compare search terms against one another to see how each fares among different audiences, as well as access related queries that people tend to search for with the specified term.
  • Google Trends is an effective way to gauge the popularity of certain terms and topics among a targeted audience in terms of search frequency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories .

Have you ever wondered how something became viral on social media? Or whether people in your state are actually excited about the latest iPhone?

Google Trends allows you to search, track, and compare Google search terms and topics over a period of time and by location.

It can be particularly useful for business owners who are interested in learning more about how their brand and business fare among a targeted audience – in terms of how often they search for it and when it hits peak popularity.

Google Trends is helpful for content creators and product developers, too, since you can easily access when certain terms are most popular. This includes seasonal trends (for example, “Christmas presents for mum” ticks up in November and December in the United States).

From the outside, Google Trends can seem a little tricky – so let’s break it down.

How to use Google Trends to search for a term

1. First, go to https://trends.google.com and type in the search term you want to view, or start with an example.

Trends1Meira Gebel/Business InsiderType in your search term on the Google Trends homepage.

2. Specify your search term – this is important if your company or product has a more general name, like Apple, so be sure to select “AppleTechnology company” – not the fruit.

Trends2Meira Gebel/Business InsiderSpecify your search term if it is something more general, like Apple.

3. Google Trends will then generate a series of charts based on your search term, which we’ll break down below.

How to customise a Google Trends search

1. To customise your Google Trends search, first search for a term or topic – here, for example, using Apple.

2. To customise the “Interest over time” chart for your search term, use the four drop-down menus to see more specific metrics for region, time period, category, and the type of search (these include web, image, news, Google shopping, and YouTube searches).

Trends3Meira Gebel/Business InsiderCustomise your search with the dropdown menus.

3. For this example, we decided to see how often Apple was searched on Google News over the last 30 days in the United States in all categories.

Trends4Meira Gebel/Business InsiderThe customised chart will change every time a different variant is chosen.

What we see above is a peak on August 18, 2019, a few days after Apple’s CEO Tim Cook met with President Donald Trump to talk tariffs.

Below the “Interest over time” graph is an “Interest by subregion” graph – where you can specify where in the country (metro, city, or subregion) the search was the most popular.

Trends5Meira Gebel/Business InsiderCustomise the subregion graph by using the drop-down menu on the right.

How to interpret what each graph on Google Trends means

Once you’ve searched a term or topic and customised some of its variants, understanding what the peaks (represented with a 100 on the graph) and plateaus actually mean can be confusing. Here’s how Google describes it:

  • “Each data point is divided by the total searches of the geography and time range it represents to compare relative popularity. Otherwise, places with the most search volume would always be ranked highest.”
  • “The resulting numbers are then scaled on a range of 0 to 100 based on a topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.”
  • “Different regions that show the same search interest for a term don’t always have the same total search volumes.”

For the example we used above with Apple, this would mean that on August 18, Apple was one of the most popular search terms when compared to every other topic, for those searching on Google News in the US.

A zero rating, however, wouldn’t mean that no one searched for Apple, but only a small number compared to the peaks.

How to compare search terms on Google Trends

1. To compare search terms, click on Compare and type in your terms or topics.

2. For this example, we will compare Apple with Facebook and Samsung, adding each by clicking on the “+” icon.

Trends6Meira Gebel/Business InsiderYou can also compare search terms in Google Trends.

3. A series of graphs will be generated below, which you can then customise with time frame, category, region, and type of search.

4. After searching for a comparison between Apple, Facebook, and Samsung in the United States in the last 30 days in all categories on Google News, we can see that Facebook beat out the bunch in terms of frequency and volume of searches overall.

Trends7Meira Gebel/Business InsiderThis graph compares the Google News search popularity of Apple, Facebook, and Samsung in the U.S. over the last 30 days.

How to use related queries on Google Trends

Located at the bottom of your Google Trends search results is a box titled “Related Queries” – here you will find the popular terms that often accompany or follow your selected search term. For example, people who searched for “Apple” also searched for “Apple card” within the customised variants.

Trends8Meira Gebel/Business InsiderPeople searching for Apple are also searching for these related queries.

Within the Related queries box, you can click on a related search term like “Apple card” to see its search popularity and compare it to other searches.

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