If I told you that your best converting keyword was going to tank next week, would you believe me? Probably not – but what if Google told you the same thing?
This type of keyword crystal ball-ism is a reality with Google Trends, a tool that lets you see the user search history for keywords as far back as 8 years.
Why is this significant? Because a keyword that has no/low search volumes all year round is a bad keyword to target in SEO or PPC. However, some keywords are seasonal, so even though they get little traction during some periods of the year, doesn’t mean you should disregard them.
On the other side of the coin, the seasonal nature of these keywords could conceivably come back to bite you. For example, if you’ve been making a tidy living off the search traffic from certain keywords during the winter months, only to have that traffic drop off during spring, then that’s something you should be aware of and have contingencies in place for before it happens.
How Google Trends Works
To give you a better idea of how this tool works, let’s go through the information in the screenshot below.
Here we are seeing information on the keyword “Engagement Rings Melbourne”. The information has been customised by applying the following filters within the Google Trends interface:
Search: Web Search. This removes Image, Product and News searches from affecting the results.
Location: Victoria. This ensures that only searches from Victoria are shown (Trends doesn’t allow you to go deeper than a state view, which in most cases should be fine).
Date: January 2009-December 2012. 3 years should be a large enough sample size to get some meaningful data.
Category: Clothing Accessories. You can segment all user searches into various categories. Choosing a category isn’t necessary, but it does allow you to see how that keyword compares to all other keywords in that category. For instance, Porsche would fall into the automotive category and if they were running a campaign you’d expect to see more Porsche related searches being made during that time period.
Understanding the Google Trends Graph
This graph is where our attention should be. We are looking for spikes (rises in search volume) and troughs (drops in search volume).
Here’s the graph from before with a few highlights added.
You can see a few key spikes highlighted and what time of year they occur. For the past 3 years starting in November, search traffic for engagement rings Melbourne begins to climb. This makes sense given that many engagements happen around the new year. Equally interesting is the great drop in February.
Therefore, if you were running an AdWords campaign featuring this keyword, you would apply the data from Google Trends by increasing your budget during the November-January period, and scale back your budget for February.
Trends + Remarketing
The information in Google Trends allows you to make an extremely effective use of remarketing. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Remarketing then Annie’s post a few weeks ago is an excellent introduction.
Imagine you’ve been collecting remarketing information for 6 months on your engagement jewellery website, and November is a month away. You can pre-empt the spike in November and begin a remarketing campaign 2 weeks beforehand. This will get your website in front of searchers right at the time when they are entering the buying stage, which should in turn lead to increased performance from your remarketing campaign.
Now it’s time to play around with Trends and see what interesting factoids you can come up with for your prized keywords.
Are they seasonal?
Is the overall trend dropping?
Is a synonym replacing your keyword?
Let us know what you find!