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7 Ways to Use Google Trends for SEO & Content Marketing via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google Trends is the only keyword research tool that offers insights based on actual Google search data.

These seven tips on how to use Google Trends will show you how to extract real keyword trends that are accurate and will be useful for creating keyword strategies for promoting websites.

Discover new ways to use Google Trends to unlock hidden insights and keyword volume data.

The Value of Google Trends

While Google Trends is accurate, it doesn’t show the amount of traffic in actual numbers.

Paid SEO tools provide numbers for keyword search volume. But those numbers are estimates that are extrapolated from data providers.

So even though paid SEO tools provide estimates of keyword traffic, the data presented by Google Trends is based on actual search query volumes.

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That’s not to say that Google Trends is better than paid keyword tools. When used together with paid keyword tools, one can obtain a near accurate idea of true keyword search volume.

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There are other functions in Google Trends that can allow accurate segmentation of the keyword data in order to understand what locations to focus promotional efforts, and also to discover new and trending keywords.

How to Use Google Trends for SEO

1. Get More Accurate Data by Comparing Keywords

Google Trends shows a relative visualization of traffic on a scale of zero to one hundred.

You can’t really know if the trend is reporting hundreds of keyword searches or thousands because the graph is on a relative scale.

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This is especially helpful if you know the amount of traffic from another keyword phrase.

How to Obtain More Accurate Traffic Data

If you want to obtain a more accurate estimate of keyword search volume, compare the keyword with a keyword that you already have accurate volume numbers for.

If the keyword volume is especially large, there’s another way to identify a close estimate of keyword volume – by comparing your target keyword with any keyword phrase that you have an idea of traffic volume.

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The comparison keyword doesn’t have to be related. It can be completely different. The important thing is to have a general idea of the keyword volume.

In the event that this volume information is unavailable, here is a hack for getting an idea of search volume.

Go to the Google Trends Daily Trends webpage, which shows trending search queries.

What’s useful about this page is that Google provides keyword volumes in numbers, like 100,000+ searches per day, etc.

Here’s an example:

Google Trends shows that the keyword search trend for [womens dresses] is trending upward. But it doesn’t tell you by how much volume.

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Google Trends for Womens Dresses search trends.Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Google Trends for Womens Dresses search trends.

The Google Daily Trends page for Monday, August 30, 2021 shows that searches for [elizabeth holmes] are trending at 100,000+ searches.

Screenshot of Google daily search trends.Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Screenshot of Google daily search trends.

Now, here is a screenshot of a comparison between the search query [womens dresses] and [elizabeth holmes], which is trending at 100,000+ searches.

Google Trends Keyword Comparison (enhanced for clarity).Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Google Trends Keyword Comparison (enhanced for clarity).

Although Google Trends won’t show you the exact amounts, as long as you know the amounts for one keyword, the traffic levels of the other keyword will become more understandable.

The above hack isn’t 100% accurate. But it’s enough to give a strong ballpark idea and can be used to validate extrapolated data from a paid keyword research tool.

Related: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

2. Compare Keywords by Time for Audience Insights

There are two general ways to look at the keyword data: stretched across over longer periods of time and shorter time periods.

Long Period Trends

You can set Google Trends to show you the traffic trends stretching back to 2004. This is valuable for showing you audience trends.

  • Upward Trending Long-Term Trends: If a trend is going up this means to focus energy on creating content for this trend.
  • Downward Long-Term Trends: If the trend line is moving down, then it may be a signal that audience content consumption is changing.

For example, review this five-year trend for WordPress the search term, WordPress the software, and WordPress the website:

An image of Google Trends tool showing a five year trend.Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021An image of Google Trends tool showing a five year trend.

There’s a clear downward trend for WordPress in all its variations. The downward trend extends to phrases such as WordPress themes, WordPress plugin, and WordPress hosting.

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It’s super important to understand when a trend is on a downward spiral.

  • The digital camera started the demise of the traditional analog camera.
  • The iPhone started the downward spiral of the digital camera.

Knowing which way the wind is blowing could help a content marketer or publisher understand when it’s time to bail on digital cameras and start flogging products related to mobile phones.

Related: Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

3. Related Topics and Queries

Google Trends has two great features, one called Related Topics and the other Related Queries.

Topics

Topics are search queries that share a concept. In general, topics are language-independent but it’s unclear if that’s the case with Related Topics.

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According to Google:

Related Topics

Users searching for your term also searched for these topics.

You Can View by the Following Metrics

Top – The most popular topics. Scoring is on a relative scale where a value of 100 is the most commonly searched topic and a value of 50 is a topic searched half as often as the most popular term, and so on.

Rising – Related topics with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period.

Results marked “Breakout” had a tremendous increase, probably because these topics are new and had few (if any) prior searches.”

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Related Queries

The description of Related Queries is similar to that of the Related Topics.

Top queries are the most popular in general and Rising Queries are queries that are becoming popular.

Screenshot of Google Trends Related Queries feature.Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Screenshot of Google Trends Related Queries feature.

4. Short Term Trends Can Bring Massive Traffic

Viewing keyword trends in the short view, such as the 90 day or even 30 day view can reveal valuable insights for capitalizing on rapidly changing search trends.

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There is a ton of traffic in Google Discover as well as in Google News.

While Google Discover is less sensitive to trending topics than Google News, being on top of current interests is super helpful for grabbing a huge amount of traffic right now through Google Discover and Google News.

For example, two of the top trending keyword trends are How To and Near Me searches.

When you scale down to the 90-day view, you can see which days of the weeks those searches are popular.

Knowing which days of the week interest spikes for a given topic can also help in planning when to publish certain kinds of topics so the content is right there when the audience is searching for it.

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5. Keywords by Category

Google Trends has the capability to narrow down your keywords according to categories in order to give more accurate data.

The Categories tab is important because it refines your keyword research to the correct context.

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If your keyword context is automobiles then it makes sense to appropriately refine Google Trends to show just the data for the context of auto.

By narrowing the Google Trends data by category, you will be able to find more accurate information related to the topics you are researching for content.

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6. Leverage Keyword Data by Geography

Google Trends keyword information by geographic location can be used for determining what areas are the best to outreach to for site promotion or for tailoring the content to specific regions.

For example, if certain kinds of products are popular in Washington D.C. and Texas, it makes sense to aim promotional activity and localized content to those areas.

Keyword popularity information by region is valuable for link building, content creation, content promotion, and pay-per-click.

Localizing content can make it more relevant to people interested in that content.

Google ranks pages according to who it’s most relevant for, so incorporating geographic nuance into your content can help it rank for the most people. Especially if those people begin to promote your content in social media, blogs, and podcasts.

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Related: International SEO for 2021 & Beyond: 9-Point Checklist for Success

7. Uncover Search Intents With Categories

Google Trends gives you the ability to further refine the keyword data by segmenting it by Search Type, which is an incredibly useful way to research the popularity of various kinds of search intents.

Search Types give you insights into searchers when they are intensely focused on a specific kind of intent.

Refining your research allows you to remove the “noise” that might be polluting your keyword research and go straight to the signal – the data that is most meaningful.

Google Trends data can be refined by:

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  • Web Search.
  • Image Search.
  • News Search.
  • Google Shopping.
  • YouTube Search.

YouTube search is a fantastic way to identify the “how to” content.

A Google Trends search for how, what, where, when, why, and who shows that search queries beginning with the word “how” are by far the most popular on YouTube.

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Google Trends limits comparisons to five keywords, so the following screenshot omits that word.

Screenshot of Keyword Popularity on YouTube.Screenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Screenshot of Keyword Popularity on YouTube.

If your keyword phrases involve instructional content that uses words like [how to], refining your research to YouTube may provide useful insights.

For example, I have found that YouTube Search shows more relevant “related topics” and “related queries” data than researching with “web search” selected.

Here’s another example of how using different kinds of search types helps refine Google Trends data.

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I did the same how, what, where, when, why, and who searches but this time using the News Search refinement.

Screenshot of Google Trends with News Search refinement selectedScreenshot from Google Trends, August 2021Screenshot of Google Trends with News Search refinement selected

The search trends in Google News are remarkably different than the search patterns in YouTube. That’s because people want to know “what” and “how” type information in Google News.

The above is the view of search queries for the past 90 days. When the same keywords are searched using the 5-year perspective it becomes clear that the “who” type keywords tend to spike according to current events.

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The biggest spike occurred in the days after the 2020 presidential election.

All of the different search type query refinements help to refine the results so that they show more accurate information.

So give those selections a try because the information they give can be more accurate and useful than the more general and potentially noisy “web search” version.

Takeaway: Google Trends is Useful

Google Trends is a useful tool, and a little creativity yields important search marketing insights.

Spend some time with Google Trends. I’m certain you’ll discover insights that will improve how content is created and promoted online.

More Resources:

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Featured image: alphaspirit.it/Shutterstock

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Google On Hyphens In Domain Names

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What Google says about using hyphens in domain names

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about why people don’t use hyphens with domains and if there was something to be concerned about that they were missing.

Domain Names With Hyphens For SEO

I’ve been working online for 25 years and I remember when using hyphens in domains was something that affiliates did for SEO when Google was still influenced by keywords in the domain, URL, and basically keywords anywhere on the webpage. It wasn’t something that everyone did, it was mainly something that was popular with some affiliate marketers.

Another reason for choosing domain names with keywords in them was that site visitors tended to convert at a higher rate because the keywords essentially prequalified the site visitor. I know from experience how useful two-keyword domains (and one word domain names) are for conversions, as long as they didn’t have hyphens in them.

A consideration that caused hyphenated domain names to fall out of favor is that they have an untrustworthy appearance and that can work against conversion rates because trustworthiness is an important factor for conversions.

Lastly, hyphenated domain names look tacky. Why go with tacky when a brandable domain is easier for building trust and conversions?

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Domain Name Question Asked On Reddit

This is the question asked on Reddit:

“Why don’t people use a lot of domains with hyphens? Is there something concerning about it? I understand when you tell it out loud people make miss hyphen in search.”

And this is Mueller’s response:

“It used to be that domain names with a lot of hyphens were considered (by users? or by SEOs assuming users would? it’s been a while) to be less serious – since they could imply that you weren’t able to get the domain name with fewer hyphens. Nowadays there are a lot of top-level-domains so it’s less of a thing.

My main recommendation is to pick something for the long run (assuming that’s what you’re aiming for), and not to be overly keyword focused (because life is too short to box yourself into a corner – make good things, course-correct over time, don’t let a domain-name limit what you do online). The web is full of awkward, keyword-focused short-lived low-effort takes made for SEO — make something truly awesome that people will ask for by name. If that takes a hyphen in the name – go for it.”

Pick A Domain Name That Can Grow

Mueller is right about picking a domain name that won’t lock your site into one topic. When a site grows in popularity the natural growth path is to expand the range of topics the site coves. But that’s hard to do when the domain is locked into one rigid keyword phrase. That’s one of the downsides of picking a “Best + keyword + reviews” domain, too. Those domains can’t grow bigger and look tacky, too.

That’s why I’ve always recommended brandable domains that are memorable and encourage trust in some way.

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Read the post on Reddit:

Are domains with hyphens bad?

Read Mueller’s response here.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Benny Marty

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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes

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Google apparently ranks Reddit posts within minutes

Google’s Danny Sullivan disputed the assertions made in a Reddit discussion that Google is showing a preference for Reddit in the search results. But a Redditor’s example proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten of the search results within minutes and to actually improve rankings to position #2 a week later.

Discussion About Google Showing Preference To Reddit

A Redditor (gronetwork) complained that Google is sending so many visitors to Reddit that the server is struggling with the load and shared an example that proved that it can only take minutes for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten.

That post was part of a 79 post Reddit thread where many in the r/SEO subreddit were complaining about Google allegedly giving too much preference to Reddit over legit sites.

The person who did the test (gronetwork) wrote:

“…The website is already cracking (server down, double posts, comments not showing) because there are too many visitors.

…It only takes few minutes (you can test it) for a post on Reddit to appear in the top ten results of Google with keywords related to the post’s title… (while I have to wait months for an article on my site to be referenced). Do the math, the whole world is going to spam here. The loop is completed.”

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Reddit Post Ranked Within Minutes

Another Redditor asked if they had tested if it takes “a few minutes” to rank in the top ten and gronetwork answered that they had tested it with a post titled, Google SGE Review.

gronetwork posted:

“Yes, I have created for example a post named “Google SGE Review” previously. After less than 5 minutes it was ranked 8th for Google SGE Review (no quotes). Just after Washingtonpost.com, 6 authoritative SEO websites and Google.com’s overview page for SGE (Search Generative Experience). It is ranked third for SGE Review.”

It’s true, not only does that specific post (Google SGE Review) rank in the top 10, the post started out in position 8 and it actually improved ranking, currently listed beneath the number one result for the search query “SGE Review”.

Screenshot Of Reddit Post That Ranked Within Minutes

Anecdotes Versus Anecdotes

Okay, the above is just one anecdote. But it’s a heck of an anecdote because it proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank within minutes and get stuck in the top of the search results over other possibly more authoritative websites.

hankschrader79 shared that Reddit posts outrank Toyota Tacoma forums for a phrase related to mods for that truck.

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Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to that post and the entire discussion to dispute that Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums.

Danny wrote:

“Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums. [super vhs to mac adapter] I did this week, it goes Apple Support Community, MacRumors Forum and further down, there’s Reddit. I also did [kumo cloud not working setup 5ghz] recently (it’s a nightmare) and it was the Netgear community, the SmartThings Community, GreenBuildingAdvisor before Reddit. Related to that was [disable 5g airport] which has Apple Support Community above Reddit. [how to open an 8 track tape] — really, it was the YouTube videos that helped me most, but it’s the Tapeheads community that comes before Reddit.

In your example for [toyota tacoma], I don’t even get Reddit in the top results. I get Toyota, Car & Driver, Wikipedia, Toyota again, three YouTube videos from different creators (not Toyota), Edmunds, a Top Stories unit. No Reddit, which doesn’t really support the notion of always wanting to drive traffic just to Reddit.

If I guess at the more specific query you might have done, maybe [overland mods for toyota tacoma], I get a YouTube video first, then Reddit, then Tacoma World at third — not near the bottom. So yes, Reddit is higher for that query — but it’s not first. It’s also not always first. And sometimes, it’s not even showing at all.”

hankschrader79 conceded that they were generalizing when they wrote that Google always prioritized Reddit. But they also insisted that that didn’t diminish what they said is a fact that Google’s “prioritization” forum content has benefitted Reddit more than actual forums.

Why Is The Reddit Post Ranked So High?

It’s possible that Google “tested” that Reddit post in position 8 within minutes and that user interaction signals indicated to Google’s algorithms that users prefer to see that Reddit post. If that’s the case then it’s not a matter of Google showing preference to Reddit post but rather it’s users that are showing the preference and the algorithm is responding to those preferences.

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Nevertheless, an argument can be made that user preferences for Reddit can be a manifestation of Familiarity Bias. Familiarity Bias is when people show a preference for things that are familiar to them. If a person is familiar with a brand because of all the advertising they were exposed to then they may show a bias for the brand products over unfamiliar brands.

Users who are familiar with Reddit may choose Reddit because they don’t know the other sites in the search results or because they have a bias that Google ranks spammy and optimized websites and feel safer reading Reddit.

Google may be picking up on those user interaction signals that indicate a preference and satisfaction with the Reddit results but those results may simply be biases and not an indication that Reddit is trustworthy and authoritative.

Is Reddit Benefiting From A Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loop?

It may very well be that Google’s decision to prioritize user generated content may have started a self-reinforcing pattern that draws users in to Reddit through the search results and because the answers seem plausible those users start to prefer Reddit results. When they’re exposed to more Reddit posts their familiarity bias kicks in and they start to show a preference for Reddit. So what could be happening is that the users and Google’s algorithm are creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

Is it possible that Google’s decision to show more user generated content has kicked off a cycle where more users are exposed to Reddit which then feeds back into Google’s algorithm which in turn increases Reddit visibility, regardless of lack of expertise and authoritativeness?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Kues

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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