If you create content for a WordPress website and haven’t heard of Google Trends, you’re about to be in for a treat. Whether you’re blogging for fun or putting together a professional content marketing strategy, ranking well in Google searches is an important piece of the web visibility puzzle. There are so many factors at play for WordPress SEO- search engine optimization- that talking about it can quickly become a real goliath of a task. There are perfectly manageable facets of it though, and a good keyword strategy is one of them. That’s where Google Trends comes into play as an extraordinarily helpful tool!
Keywords & WordPress SEO
As a basic primer for the yet uninitiated, let’s talk briefly about what WordPress SEO is in the first place and why a keyword strategy is important for visibility. You want your WordPress website to rank highly in Google searches, so you in turn want each page to be optimized for Google’s search engine. Thus the term, WordPress SEO.
The basic concept of Google is to present you the most relevant results for the search term you give them. There are a myriad different factors that play into how they do that, but one of the most basic is by indexing every word of every webpage and determining from there what it is that page is talking about.
A long time ago you could stuff an article full of a particular word or phrase, your ‘keyword’, and fool Google to an extent. That doesn’t fly anymore. Google has gotten smart. Your ranking isn’t determined anymore through a one-to-one relationship of keywords present to search result ranking. It’s gotten much more complicated, but keywords are still very important to WordPress SEO.
Currently, both the density and placement of the words you use are used as factors in determining what subject your page is addressing. Getting density and placement of your keywords just right is a huge topic unto itself, but as is often the case with WordPress, there are great plugin solutions to help you down that road. I’d strongly recommend Yoast SEO for that task.
Before any of the above matters, you have to choose the keywords you want to guide Google with in the first place. That’s where Google Trends becomes incredibly helpful! As an demonstration of how to use it, let’s set up a hypothetical scenario.
Congratulations, you’re the proud new owner of a beach house on Edisto Island, South Carolina. You want to rent your beach house out and set up a website to do so. What keywords will help drive traffic to your main page? To Google Trends!
Let’s start by looking at the keyword “South Carolina vacation rentals”. Here’s what we see:
Immediately under the search term you can narrow the parameters of your search by geography, time frame, interest categories (travel, arts, business, etc), and type of search.
Below that, we’ve got 4 primary data categories:
- Interest over time
- Interest by region
- Related topics
- Related queries
Interest Over Time
Interest over time is a relative metric; it shows you how often the search term is googled only in relation to all the other points in time in which that search term has been googled. In other words, it doesn’t show you a specific volume (ie x has been searched y times this month), but it does show you peaks and troughs of popularity for that search term (x is most popular in July and least popular in November).
The most obvious use case for this is to help you guide seasonal optimization. Just the presence of searches does tell you that there are people out there searching this keyword though, so you know you do have a target audience for the keyword. You can also use it to compare popularity of one keyword search term to another, which we’ll get into more in a moment.
Interest by Region
This one’s pretty self explanatory. We can see with our sample search that the popularity of the term is limited mainly to the US, as we’d expect. Search for something far more broad, like “email” and you’ll see a very different regional picture.
Related Topics and Queries
Related topics show the most popular topics and those gaining in popularity that are associated with your search term. Related queries show you other search terms used by users who have also searched for your target search term. You can also see these queries in terms of both the most popular and with the biggest gains in frequency.
Refining Your Search Term
So, we’ve established that “South Carolina vacation rentals” is something people are googling. We can also see that this specific term starts becoming popular in January each year, hits peak interest in June, and then declines through the winter. No surprises there, but it’s good information to have and potentially vital depending on what you’re trying to rank for.
Now let’s see how that term compares to others like it. How about getting more specific and trying “South Carolina beach rentals”?
Not only is the “beach” variation more popular, it’s more specific too. Looks like we have a pretty clear winner between the two. The most popular isn’t always the best, though. Consider this one, omitting the vacation rental term entirely and adding an even more specific phrase, “Edisto Island beach rentals”:
Clearly “South Carolina beach rentals” is the more popular term here, but is it necessarily the best? “Edisto Island beach rentals” clearly gets traffic, albeit quite a bit less than the more general term. This is where it comes down to what kind of traffic you’re looking for. Folks searching for a broader topic vs a more specific topic are most likely in different stages of their “buying cycles”, so to speak.
If you’re searching broadly for beach rentals in SC, you’ve probably got an idea of what you’re looking for but are still narrowing down your decision making. It’s similar to how someone searching for “running shoes” might have a broad picture of what they’re looking for, but someone searching for “Nike men’s size 12 dual fusion” is probably ready to buy. The question then is whether you’re wanting to appeal to a broader South Carolina beach vacation audience, or specifically target a smaller group of people who have already set their minds on coming to Edisto Island and are more likely to buy.
Google Trends, WordPress SEO, and You
Ultimately, how you make the most of Google Trends will vary depending on what type of audience you want to target and what type of content you’re writing. You have to put yourself into the shoes of your audience and anticipate the kinds of things they’re going to be searching for. Google Trends is a great tool for testing the ideas that you come up with as you attempt to do just that. Though WordPress SEO is a huge umbrella covering many different factors, choosing the right keywords for each page to rank for is a step in the right direction towards greater visibility!