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How To Use Google Trends For Market Research

Google Trends

There’s always value in speaking to potential customers and getting valuable insight into their thoughts and opinions. But some businesses simply don’t have time to conduct detailed market research (or hire a market researcher). And thanks to Google, you may not need to; the company collects all kinds of data about its own users and customers.

Why Use Google Trends?

Google Trends is a simple tool on the face of it, but its power is in the data it contains. Using Google Trends, you can leverage Google’s massive database of search patterns to find out what the world is thinking. It shows you a simple line chart of the popularity of a search term so you can instantly gauge interest in it.

Why use it? Well, it’s free, first of all, and that’s always a bonus. It’s also speedy and simple to get to grips with. And the dataset on offer really is vast. While Trends won’t replace professional market researchers, it’s a great companion tool.

Using Google Trends for Simple Comparison

Google Trends basically shows you what people are searching for and how those searches have fluctuated. The data dates back to 2004, and search results are compiled from global Google sites. (If you need to drill down, you can access different demographics further down the results page.)

Trends accepts a single search term and shows you a graph of interest over time; you can then click the Add term button to layer more search terms over the top.

Try using Google Trends to compare two brands that have recently been in the news. Stuck for ideas? Choose something really distinctive: ‘Samsung’ works well, but ‘apple’ doesn’t, since the word can mean many different things. You can also look up hot searches via this fantastic visual tool on the Google site: http://www.google.co.uk/trends/hottrends/visualize?pn=p9. Hot Trends is updated every hour, and you can see data from the news in the main Google Trends interface as well.

Enriching Your Results

Google Trends is clearly a very simple tool: it may tell us that people have been searching more for Miley Cyrus this year, but it may not tell us why. That’s where you’ll need to augment your findings with other tools.

Twitter’s Trending Topics are a clear example of a social media metric that gives you more than just numbers, providing you have the time to wade through the conversations. Sometimes, you’ll need to speak out: if your Google Trends data relates to a business topic, try infiltrating LinkedIn groups and asking for direct feedback.

Of course, these are all standard tactics for professional market researchers.

Beware the Google Trends Quota

Take care when messing around with this tool. Each user has a quota: it’s very low, so beware of typos and take your time composing your search phrases. Entering multiple search terms quickly will get you banned from the tool for a while.

Additionally, you’ll find that you hit the quota immediately if you use Google Trends without cookies enabled (for example, when browsing in Incognito Mode). For most users, this won’t be a concern, and Google Trends will provide you with a rich source of data without a single focus group or interview. It could also help you excel in your market research job.

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