When I first started learning how to do internet marketing, keywords were all that mattered. Google Keyword Planner and a host of other keyword research tools, like SEMrush, helped marketers see which keywords were driving volume. Then we’d take what we learned and layer it on with a tool like Übersuggest, or come up with more permutations or more keyword phrases.
But the thing about looking at historical keyword data is that it’s the same as looking at past revenue. It’s a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator.
That means it explains how something happened only in retrospect. But it doesn’t necessarily help you predict what will work in the future.
As a marketer, you want to be ahead of the trend. For example, let’s talk about virtual reality marketing, which might really blow up in five years or so. I think we all know that that’s a trend that’s coming up, but there isn’t a lot of interest in it right now because the technology hasn’t fully penetrated yet. The timing is not correct. But in order to ride that wave when it crests, you have to be prepared.
And that’s why I spend a bunch of time on Google Trends.
Google Trends’ most obvious feature is their top charts, where you can see what’s going on in real time. This is what people are talking about right now. This is what people are interested in.
For example, if you look up the book Newsjacking, you can come up with ideas just by looking at these trends. Or maybe people have been talking about Conor McGregor recently. How can we spin that in a way that fits in with a client’s marketing?
By doing that, you can be at the top of SERPs when people search for Conor McGregor or newsjacking or whatever the topic is. Whoever gets to it first is going to win when it comes to trends.
Another example: Pinterest recently released their Pinterest Search Ads. Let’s search for “Pinterest Search Ads” in Google Trends. We can see that it is currently a trend right now and it’s spiking.
How do you take advantage of this? I like to scroll to the bottom of the results page in Google Trends to see related searches. If there aren’t many related searches, then this is a really fresh topic.
One of the easiest wins when you jump on a trend is to write a long-form piece of content about it. Most of the early coverage will be short-form news posts. For example, maybe you newsjack Pinterest’s announcement with a “Complete Guide to Pinterest Search E-book.”
Maybe we’ll jump on Snapchat Ads instead. They’ve been out for a while, and you can see they spiked for a little bit when the announcement first came out.
But it’s about to get even bigger because they’re about to IPO and open up their platform to third parties for bidding. As a marketer, maybe that’s a topic you want to jump on.
Learn More: The Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat
There’s also YouTube, which is adding the ability to target people based on their search history. So it’s like search retargeting, but through YouTube. They’re obviously trying to compete with Facebook.
There are a lot of different ways to think about this, but whatever you end up doing, start by looking at trends.
What should you not do? Write on topics without any regard to trends. For example, if you search for “SEO,” you can see that this topic has been played out. It’s the same thing over and over. If you want to own the top results, you need to be on top of trends that people are just discovering.
If it’s actually good content, readers will start linking to it and it eventually becomes a flywheel of high-quality links because it’s the top result. That’s the benefit of riding the wave before it breaks. You’re going to get more traffic over time than anyone else and you’ll be known as an authority in your space. That’s the power of using Google Trends.
And Google Trends is totally free! You’re using a free tool like this to spot things before they become really big and jump on them because people care about these new and exciting topics.
When it comes to content marketing, so much content out there is redundant over time. Many topics are basically just echo chambers of writers copying each other.
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post: