Google provides a plethora of tools for anyone to use to help better understand their audience. Google Trends has been around for some time now and it really provides great insight into.....trends.....as well as providing valuable information.
This article is dedicated to walking you through a simple exercise that can and probably will unearth some great PR opportunities as well as additional insight in general.
Knowledge of What is Searched
Over the years Google has steadily improved their Trends platform. Now you can spend hours sifting through global search trends. Reviewing general interest, seasonality, yearly increases or decreases and breakout searches too.
And why should we care about global Google search trends? When you combine Google search data alongside the parameters we will go into below, you open up vast new PR opportunities.
You can go big with 'Worldwide' trends or get very specific, dependant on your markets. If you have international offices there may be global events which upon review could show Location A, B, C has far more interest than Location X, Y, Z.
This provides clear media buying allocation opportunities as well ideas where there needs to be more focus.
This is where the trends start to formulate in a visual presentation allowing you to noticed cyclical opportunities or one-off's. You can customize the time frame but we always love reviewing '2004 - Present' and 'Last 5 Years'. These time-frames clearly show you peaks in trends the inevitably fall-out and pre-event hype build-up too.
Be sure to spend time on the time selections as there are valuable insights that can be found when you zoom in and out. Sometimes a trend based on a short-term time frame will not show the overall trend movement over the last X years.
Searches that are made via Google usually have intent or context based around them. Knowledge of SEO can be a plus here, however, adding categories to your trends keyword can help paint a more reliable overview.
This includes web, news, image, Youtube and Google Shopping. Providing great insight into the popularity of a search as well as which format the results are best consumed.
Understanding Search Context
Because of how Trends works - results are compared to previous highs or your key term - you need to spend time on understanding the context of a trend.
Below are a couple of examples which you can have a go with and see for yourself.
It happens once per year, this is something we know for sure. So we can probably hazard a guess that the searches trend for 'Cannes' will be pretty much cyclical.
All appears to be as we assumed. With increasing interest lost to the event and peak interest during it. Then a huge drop in interest and basically nothing for the rest of the year.
Tip: Even though there is no clear trend as such, there can be some insight into when interest starts building and when it becomes a 'tipping point'. This lets you align your calendar and pitching to get ahead of the crowd.
Now you care starting to see a potential trend. The 4 spikes from previous years appear to be declining. There are a couple of 'random' spikes in interest during 2015 - this would be where you investigate.
Tip: Finding spikes in interest when it appears from history there shouldn't be could provide great information that others could have missed. Dive deeper, make notes and evaluate all of the information - is there a deeper trend? Can you analyze and factor in your brand?
The 5 year trend of declines in interest are now validated by the more longer term time selection. Now you can see that there is a clear decline in interest since 2004 but the peak in interest still remains around the same time of year.
Tip: Investigate this trend. This is a PR piece in the waiting if you are in this industry. You have gone from a 5 year decline to a 10+ year decline - this could be an opportunity to spin the story to match your offer or service. Either way it's there for you to show off your PR chops.
I'm going to give you an example that is more product focused which should give a more real-world PR example.
The idea here is that you should be able to see how you can use Trends right now with your focus keyword. Going broad such as 'healthy drinks' can lead you down to some interesting ideas, which can follow in-line with global interest.
Now apart from the Dec 31 - Jan 10 'NY Resolution' period, which is sort of expected, there is little to no clear trend.
Tip: We clearly know why there is this peak in interest because of the association between healthy and new years. Dive into this a little more, see if any of your media contacts has this beat and reach out to discuss their calendar.
That New Years trend is staying the same but peak interest is getting higher each year whilst lowest interest is also going up. That to me shows there is an on-going and growing interest in this. Which is vital to start understanding the dates further and the context behind these peaks.
Tip: Time to dig deeper. Review dates and any key events that occurred, review future events and how search interest can be used in time with an event to grow your brands PR.
Once you zoom out on a bigger timeline you can see and confirm that the overall interest and searches keeps on going. Year after year interest has been growing and it doesn't appear to be slowing down.
Tip: This is a clear trend, with clear peaks in interest - you need to start thinking about how to best capitalize on this clear trend.
Developing an Editorial Calendar
Queries & Topics - Rising + Top
To make things easier we will be sticking with 'healthy drinks' as our trend keyword. This will make idea generation easier than going with Cannes, plus it's a product/brand opportunity too.
* Top – The most popular search queries. Scoring is on a relative scale where a value of 100 is the most commonly searched query, 50 is a query searched half as often as the most popular query, and so on.
* Rising – Queries with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period. Results marked 'Breakout' had a tremendous increase, probably because these queries are new and had few (if any) prior searches.
The idea with these 'Top' & 'Rising' queries is that you can see what is gaining popularity in relation to your focus keyword. These provide opportunities to see if there are any directly related key words alongside a key trend.
You also have another key tool next to queries which are 'Topics'. These tend to be more broader but closely related searches in other areas of your search term.
OK, as an example we are a Matcha tea drinks brand. We have searched for health drinks trends and also noticed that in related topics it is a 'Breakout' topic. We know that healthy drinks get searched for around key times of the year and we want to get in on the action with some strategic PR.
The next steps would be to review peak interest, check the context behind the peak interest, start to gather initial press release ideas.
You should then reach out to media contacts who have covered this before and ask them about what would be interesting to see and hear. This is a great PR positioning opportunity - as long as you can provide the quality content to back this up.