Compare the Popularity of Keywords at a Glance with Google Trends

If you have a home busi­ness and want to increase traf­fic to your web­site, one of the most impor­tant things you can do is to select the search engine key­words that will draw traf­fic to your web­site. Google Trends is a key­word research tool that can help you see at a glance how many peo­ple are search­ing on Google for the key­words you’re con­sid­er­ing. Since Google is far and away the search engine of choice, focus­ing on Google key­words infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed can prove to be quite help­ful.

The Importance of Keywords and Keyword Selection

Search engine key­words are those words that Web surfers use to con­duct a search in a search engine. A key­word can con­sist of a sin­gle word, such as “bicy­cles” or an entire phrase, like “ten speed moun­tain bikes”.

Per­form­ing key­word research involves tak­ing the time to dis­cov­er which key­words your web­site vis­i­tors are most like­ly to be search­ing for, and among those search terms, which key­words your site has the best chance of rank­ing high­ly in search engine results pages.

Effi­cient search engine key­word selec­tion is a bal­ance between the pop­u­lar­i­ty of a key­word or key­word phrase (which Google Trends can help you with) and the com­pe­ti­tion that already exists in try­ing to rank for that key­word phrase.

You can also use high­ly pop­u­lar key­words as part of a Pay Per Click (PPC) adver­tis­ing cam­paign, such as Google AdWords. Sug­gest­ed bid­ding prices on more com­pet­i­tive key­words can be con­sid­er­ably more expen­sive, but since you can man­age your dai­ly lim­it for click-throughs, you may want to ante up to out­bid your com­peti­tors, and still stay with­in your adver­tis­ing bud­get if you believe the traf­fic for your select­ed key­words will result in a good prob­a­bil­i­ty that your PPC vis­its will ulti­mate­ly result in sales.

Google Trends can help with your pay-per-click adver­tis­ing key­word selec­tions, too.

Google Trends as a Keyword Selection Tool

There are a num­ber of free tools you can use to research how many times per day Web­site vis­i­tors are like­ly to con­duct a search for your tar­get key­word. One exam­ple is Dig­i­tal Point’s Free Key­word Sug­ges­tion Tool.

Anoth­er is the free ver­sion of Word­track­er . Using these tools, you can type in the key­word “bicy­cles” and the tool returns num­bers that rep­re­sent how many times that phrase is searched for, along with the num­ber of times relat­ed terms, such as “tan­dem bicy­cles”, are used in search queries. You can then drill down far­ther by click­ing one of the results, such as “girls bicy­cles”. But Google Trends gives you impor­tant addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion in two areas. First, when it comes to the pop­u­lar­i­ty of your search engine key­words over time, show­ing whether pop­u­lar­i­ty is ris­ing, falling or stay­ing steady. Sec­ond­ly, in com­par­ing the rel­a­tive pop­u­lar­i­ty between two to five search engine key­words you are con­sid­er­ing.

Using Google Trends, you can com­pare how often your tar­get key­words are searched for in a mat­ter of sec­onds. For exam­ple, let’s say you’re not sure which would be a more pop­u­lar key­word, “bicy­cles” or “bikes”. Open Google Trends in your brows­er by going to or click the Trends link at the top of Google’s search results page. Once the Google Trends tool opens, type “bicy­cles, bikes” in the box. You don’t need the quote marks, but you do need a com­ma between each search term or key­word phrase you want to check.

You can enter as many as 5 com­ma-sep­a­rat­ed key­word phras­es at a time. When you’re fin­ished, click the Search Trends but­ton.

Google Trends returns a col­or-cod­ed line graph that shows the fre­quen­cy for which your spec­i­fied terms were used in a Google search query for the past three cal­en­dar years. Using the bicy­cles, bikes exam­ple, Google Trends shows you almost instant­ly that the term “bikes” is used in search far more often than “bicy­cles” and that “bikes” has held this edge con­sis­tent­ly over the entire time line. There­fore, those who are look­ing for bicy­cles in Google are far more like­ly to use “bikes” in their search than they would use “bicy­cles”. You might log­i­cal­ly deduce this on your own, since it’s faster to type “bikes” than it is to spell out “bicy­cles”.

Google Trends is also a quick way to com­pare between the sin­gu­lar and plur­al ver­sion of your search engine key­words.

Google Trends also allows you to com­pare at a glance the vol­ume of news sto­ries relat­ed to the key­words you’re com­par­ing and pro­vides a bar chart that breaks down the results by select­ed cities, select­ed world regions and by select­ed world lan­guages.

Final­ly, Google Trends will also show a hyper­linked list of news ref­er­ences to those key­words. The com­par­i­son graph will show when those ref­er­ences were pub­lished on the web.

Google Trends’ Shortcomings for Selecting Keywords

What Google Trends does­n’t tell you is the spe­cif­ic num­ber of times your spec­i­fied key­words were actu­al­ly searched on. You only see a graph that does­n’t show actu­al search­es per day — just a com­par­i­son between time peri­ods, between spec­i­fied key­words, or both. But, you have oth­er tools, like the Dig­i­tal Point tool men­tioned ear­li­er and a num­ber of oth­ers that can give you that infor­ma­tion.

Google Trends also does­n’t tell you how com­pet­i­tive those key­words are — mean­ing the num­ber of search results returned for those key­words. There are also free tools that can do that for you, or you can sim­ply per­form a search on “bicy­cles” and com­pare the num­ber of search results to the num­ber of search results for “bikes”.

If the num­ber of results is low, you won’t get any results at all, but Google will tell you that there were insuf­fi­cient results. If no results are avail­able, you may want to rule out tar­get­ing that key­word or phrase. After all, there’s not much point in putting in a lot of time and effort to try to get good search rank­ings for key­words for which no one is search­ing.

Like­wise, infor­ma­tion on com­pet­i­tive­ness, which Google Trends does not pro­vide is very impor­tant. For exam­ple, if the sin­gu­lar ver­sion of your key­word has 33 mil­lion results in a Google search, and the plur­al has 16 mil­lion results, you’ll have a much bet­ter chance of rank­ing for the plur­al than the sin­gu­lar. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Google Trends does­n’t pro­vide that infor­ma­tion.