5 Enlightened Ways To Use Google Trends for Keyword Research

Keyword research tools are useful — until they don’t have enough data for your keywords.

You need to select phrases worth targeting. Sure, search engines understand concepts that are semantically connected and don’t just match keywords anymore. But when you write a webpage or design an ad, you still need to know which words to use that will do the best job conveying your concepts to searchers.

Many keyword tools lump variations together, like singulars and plurals. And they may ignore regional differences altogether.

So you may be left in the dark, just guessing.

Enter Google Trends. This surprisingly flexible and free tool can shed light on your keyword research. It gives relative search volume data — helping you choose between close alternatives, discover regional preferences and more.

Here, I’ll show you five ways to use Google Trends to make enlightened SEO keyword choices.

1. Discover Keyword Variations by Region

Your keyword research tool may not show differences in terms across a region or a country. Or it may look like the search volume is too low for you to worry about some keyword candidates. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it’s not.

As an example, what should you call something to put on the bed of a truck? If you’re on the East Coast, you’re likely to use the term “truck cap” or “camper shell.”

Looking these terms up in SEMrush provides keyword volume data and difficulty scores for the queries. You can also see a few alternative terms. However, there’s little or no information for these variations in a standard keyword tool.

SEMrush data for truck terms
Data from SEMrush provides a good starting place but may not give the full story. (click to enlarge)

As a result, you might be tempted to just write about truck caps and camper shells, and leave it at that.

Don’t stop there! If you enter all of the keyword suggestions you find into Google Trends, you’ll see a bigger picture.

That’s because people in different regions search for different terms. You can look at the chart by subregion to see this clearly.

Google Trends chart for truck terms
Google Trends can show terminology differences between regions. You can view any country’s data here. (click to enlarge)

So if your website targets the Pacific Northwest, you’ll want to include truck canopy. And in places like Montana and Illinois, you’ll want to talk about truck topper, too. These make sense for those markets.

Which of those two images would you rather use to make a case for your keyword and content recommendations?

You might wonder why the other keyword tools didn’t show any meaningful data for the alternative search terms. It’s likely because their data is based on nationwide searches. But we know it’s important to speak the language of our customers. So use Google Trends to help find keyword ideas for unique content by region.

2. Spot Changing Trends

Language and search behavior change over time. How can you make sure your content reflects these changes?

Case in point: We used to call ourselves an “internet marketing” company. Several years ago, Google Trends confirmed that “internet marketing” was declining as a search term. “Digital marketing” was rising. So we updated our site to reflect how people were searching for our services.

Google Trends graph comparing terms
Trends let you visualize swings in word usage. (click to enlarge)

By the way, “digital marketing” no longer fits our services as it’s become a very broad term. What we really do is provide great consulting services for “search marketing” (SEO, PPC, content, and social), but we do not do email or CRO or reputation management or PR and so on. So our keywords have evolved again.

Sometimes trends swing quickly and permanently.

For instance, Google AdWords rebranded to Google Ads in July 2018. A month later, Google Ads had already overtaken Google AdWords in relative search volume — which the trend chart shows:

trends graph comparing adwords and ads
Language changes can happen quickly. (click to enlarge graph)

Searchers change terms and adapt their searches faster than you (or your boss) might think. So plan to check Google Trends regularly. Watch for competing trends and update your content accordingly.

Searchers change terms and adapt their searches faster than you might think. So plan to check #GoogleTrends regularly. Watch for competing trends and update your content accordingly. Click To Tweet

3. Augment Your Google Analytics

Do you ever notice a big shift in your website analytics data and wonder what’s going on?

There may be times when you don’t have enough historical data to know if your site is seeing an expected change in visits, or if something unusual has happened, maybe in the world at large.

Look in your analytics and Google Search Console data for organic traffic to your landing page for a particular keyword. Also look in Search Console for organic search queries related to your term. Compare this to Google Trends for the same searches, and you can get a more detailed understanding of your site in comparison to larger search trends.

4. Find Spelling Preferences

Keyword search volume tools often lump results together.

“Donut” and “doughnut” are listed as having the same search volume in SEMrush. Google Keyword Planner won’t even give volume results for the spelling “doughnut” — even though “doughnut” is the preferred spelling by the Associated Press (which guides most blog and newspaper writers).

SEMrush keyword data for donut
Keyword research data from SEMrush (click to enlarge)

But using Google Trends, you can actually compare spellings to see how much search volume each variation gets.

Trends comparing two spellings of donut
Use Google Trends to confirm how to spell keywords. (click to enlarge)

More importantly, notice the annual spike in search trends for all these donut-related terms?

Scroll down to the Related queries section, and you can see searches related to National Donut Day in the U.S. (the first Friday in June). Aha! You have a new content idea for your site’s donut silo.

Related queries in Google Trends
Related queries can give you clues for content needs. (click to enlarge)
Using #GoogleTrends, you can actually compare spellings to see how much search volume each keyword variation gets. Click To Tweet

5. See What’s Trending Today

Don’t forget daily and realtime search trends. Google Trends lets you change the length of time for your research to just the past day, past 4 hours, or even the past hour!

When there’s an out-of-season spike in visits to your avocado recipes and your PPC budget for those related terms is spent by lunch, the trending searches can point out the avocado recall announcement and give you terms to add as negatives in your campaigns.

Avoid Data Pitfalls Where Google Trends Messes Up

Google Trends can get confused, however.

Searching for “dish soap” and “soap dish” shows identical search interest over time (you can’t even see the blue line below the red in the chart below). Yet they are two very different terms, and their results in a Google search are completely different.

Google Trends glitch seeing two keywords as identical
On some comparisons, Google Trends can’t tell the difference. (click to enlarge)

Search volume data confirms that there is a difference in the terms, as you would expect:

SEMrush data distinguishing soap dish and dish soap
Data per SEMrush (click to enlarge)

Another workaround for this Google Trends glitch is to use a plural for one or both search terms, when it makes sense.

You can see that the trends for “dish soaps” and “soap dishes” are distinctly different.

trend comparison graph
Google Trends distinguishes the plural versions. (click to enlarge)

Similarly, “marketing technology” and “technology marketing” also show identical search volumes in Google Trends.

When your common sense tells you that can’t be right, you’ll want to verify with another source. This could be as simple as performing a search in Google. Or you can look at comparison search volumes in another keyword research tool to see if searches really are identical.


Remember, you are not your target market. You might be in your pickup with a truck cap and eating a donut, while your reader is driving around Seattle with a truck canopy and trying to find a doughnut.

Use Google Trends to shed light on your keywords and help you know exactly what you should call things when.

Need more SEO keyword tips?
See additional information by checking out the following links within our SEO Guide:

Like this article? Please share it with others who can benefit from these search marketing tips!

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (61)
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61 Replies to “5 Enlightened Ways To Use Google Trends for Keyword Research”

Interesting article. Yes that is true about data pitfalls, even there is a slight difference in keywords, search results vary. Ongoing keyword research and analysis is must for SEO success.

I love Google trends to find trendy topics and search terms. Found it really awesome in use.

Keyword research is so important and google trends is great for this

It is a good article for someone who is new to SEO. Thank you for sharing your thought with your readers.

Thank for your post! It is easy to understand, detailed and meticulous! I have had a lot of harvest after watching this article from you!

This is a good article especially if you’re new to SEO. will bookmark your site for future purposes.

Google trends is essential when it comes to keyword research

Google is always updating and setting up new rules for the algorithm

Google Trends is a tool from Google that allows you to monitor search trends among users. The term “Trends” in the name of the tool does not work without reason. Google shows us the trend, not hard data. The results that we will see on the chart are not clear-cut. Even if the number of searches for a given phrase (according to the chart) is zero, it does not mean that no user has entered a given phrase in the search engine during the year. But it happened so sporadically that it was not noted in Google Trends.

I will try something great. very well explained. :)

Thank you for this article – I have to use Google Trends more for keyword research now. And I absolutely love the plural terms workaround

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Recommended tool for digital marketer

amazing post, it’s a powerful tool, this tool is boon for the news aggregator website who wants to cover trending updates.

this is a very helpful article. I w’d like to know what is the importance of structured data to get Local results?

I enjoyed reading something after a long time. Yes that is true about data pitfalls, even there is a slight difference in keywords, search results vary. Ongoing keyword research and analysis is must for SEO success.

Keywords Planning and ranking are one of the most important aspect in Search Engine Optimization. I used Google Adwords for planning keyword and its a great tool for keyword research and it is free . Google Adwords help you find relevant keywords related to your post or article. It is the best tool to begin with specially if you are newbie to this blogging world.

Google Trends is a Must Tool to do perfect Keyword Research. One can explore many things like Currently Trending Topics, Region Wise, Gener and Many more. The best thing about Google Trends is Interest over time. I always use this feature when i plan to do some Event sites. Also, we can explore the seasonal Searches in it. Great tool for Internet marketers…

Awesome post. Google Trends is great tool for keyword exploration.

Nice post. Google trends is such a powerful tool and we can formulate the trending topics region wise & optimize keywords.

Hi Bruce ,
This is an excellent post. I did not know beforehand how to use Google Trends for keyword research. After reading your post, I know that. Many thanks for sharing such an important and effective post. Looking forward to your new post.

trend keyword is totally different in each region, and it isn’t true that we can use some keyword for the same websites in different countries

Seo is no small feat! Though truly has made a world of difference for our company!

Great write up! We’re always looking to up the ante on our own keyword research! Any tips and tricks we can get, we appreciate…Thanks!

I would like to recommend you to understand Google trends as well as SEO marketing. I am using SEO Pwersuite tool and it is highly useful for SEO as like Ranking Trafic, Website Auditor and Link Assistant.

Paula Allen

Deniz: Ha! That’s the truth in a nutshell.

It’s very informative and very useful on rating my site. Visiting here is a continual learning process.

Nice article.
Google Trends is really an awesome tool to give your keyword research an edge over your competitors I use google trends and ubersuggest combine.

Again an excellent post :) . Google Trends is really an awesome tool to give your keyword research an edge over your competitors. Not only for keywords, It also keeps you up to date with the latest in your niche so that you can have a lot of topic ideas to talk about.

Thank you for this article – I have to use Google Trends more for keyword research now. And I absolutely love the plural terms workaround – so simple and useful <3

Hi bruce ,
I must say these tips about keyword optimisation looks quite practical and effective and i appreciate your efforts in writing this article and sharing it with us..thank you keep sharing.. :-)

in google adwords why not found search volume please advice me thanks

Paula Allen

Lincoln: The Google Keyword Planner gives some indication of keyword search volume, but it’s shown in wide spreads rather than specific numbers unless you spend a lot of money on ads. The tool is geared for advertisers, not SEOs.

Trend keywords can longtail keyword?

Very neat article. The search terms spellings can be used in localised pages..

Keywords are the most important aspect in Search Engine Optimization. I have used Google Adwords and its a great tool for keyword research. Google Adwords help you find relevant keywords related to your post or article.

I feel that google trends is a great tool for not just keyword research but for getting great topic ideas to create excellent content.

I really like this website design! The colors are great. Good article too!

Paula Allen

Bart, thank you! We appreciate your feedback about the new site design. :)

Interesting article. Yes that is true about data pitfalls, even there is a slight difference in keywords, search results vary. Ongoing keyword research and analysis is must for SEO success.

It’s a very great and informative stuff, Google trends is the best tool to get knowledge that what’s going on in the entire world. And this tool is very helpful for bloggers, who wants to improve their content writing and money making online.

Great Article!

Here I found more info on keyword research.

Great post, Bruce! Thanks for sharing this article on 5 Enlightened ways to use Google trends for KW choices. It’s very informative and very useful on rating my site.

Iv been using google trends for event blogging for quite a while now and damn this thing is accurate. Your post did cover a lot of stuff I didn’t know about though. Thanks for that!

this is just perfect. I personally find google trends to be way more helpful in topic and keyword research than any other tool out there. Thanks for the helpful post though! looking forward to seeing more from yours.

I tried lots of time to find the best keywords for my site. But all the time i never successful. All the keyowrds are high competion how to sort out low competition keywords.

Hi Thanks For The Artical Bruce.

Yeah Google Trends is better tool for Keyword exploration

Thanks for sharing informative content with us. Google trends is best tool for keyword research as well as also helps in finding a topic of our blog.

While performing SEO or content marketing tasks use Google Trends to learn what people in your target market are searching for. In paid search, use Google Trends to find irrelevant trending terms you need to set as negative keywords, so a trending search doesn’t wildly affect your costs.

Cool! Indeed, Google trends make a worthy keyword research!

Hi Bruce,

Thank you so much for this incredible content. I always think, how do you create such amazing articles (for FREE) all the time!

Thanks for suggesting the google trends.

Awesome post. Google Trends is great tool for keyword exploration.

I have never used Google trends for keyword research but it is really a good idea to make your work easy and fast. I have used keyword planner and google search suggestion.

Thanks for suggesting the google trends.

The words I wanted to use never matching the high-volume keywords. Especially for Turkish, things become ridiculous. I hope Google machine learning develops further and we don’t have to use strange words and exactly the same titles because of keyword compliance.

Well, it’s great way to get numerous amount traffic. The only thing is “TIME”. I find it extremely helpful for the local businesses also; the demand of product, how many people actually looking for that, etc

BTW thanks!

We also get more advanced with specific search options like
1.Web search
2.Image search
3.News search
4.Youtube search
Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us, it is really helpful article!

The use of Google trends will help how people search for keywords in a different region.

Paula Allen

Ayesha: Yes, regional differences are one key feature. Thanks for reading and commenting!


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