Content marketing is like cooking. There are days when you are inspired and creative and deliver the best risotto ever. And then there are times when you just want someone to tell you what to whip up because you’re flat out of ideas. Another challenge? Your creation has to satiate even the most finicky eaters.
In its State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report, keyword research tool company Semrush surveyed 1,500 content marketers worldwide. Only a little over half had a documented content marketing strategy despite nearly all (97 percent) reporting that content marketing was a part of their marketing strategy. Among their ongoing challenges: attracting traffic to content, improving its SEO performance, and generating content ideas.
Fortunately, Google Trends is a free tool to help solve these challenges. It can help you deliver the best content consistently and creatively. Google Trends can help you figure out:
- The topics to address and the content you could create (what you can cook)
- How to time your content (when to cook what)
- Which keywords to play with and the kinds of content that will likely resonate with your audience (the right ingredients to use)
Selecting a Content Topic Worthy of Engagement
You want to feed your readers the content they’re most curious about, which directly ties to your brand. Peeking into keyword search is a great way to get on-the-money content ideas, giving you insights about what readers want to know.
Compare and contrast keyword terms to determine how popular yours might be. For example, this chart shows that “car repair” consistently gets more hits than “car maintenance,” likely because repairs are more urgent than routine maintenance.
To discover other related keywords that audiences use in search, look under “Related Topics and Queries.” You can see “car maintenance cost” and “car service” both do well. Related topics and queries can be especially helpful for identifying alternatives to keywords with a lot of competition for top positions in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Such long-tail keywords found through Google Trends are easier to rank for.
Toggle “Rising” queries vs. “Top Queries,” and you’ll find the search terms gaining traction. Spotting and capitalizing on these trends early, especially in a B2C market, will help you ride the popularity wave while it crests. Be careful to time your activities.
Fads can crash quickly, and prospective consumers will tire of a topic if it’s seen too much air time before you’ve gotten to it.
Google Trends also enables you to parse search results by geography for further segmentation, which is useful for targeted pay-per-click campaigns. Look to Google Discover on mobile devices to sift for more contextual ideas.
Use Data to Target Your Audience at the Right Time
Successful content strategy is not just about discovering what topics and angles to cover; it’s also about targeting your customer at the right time. Use Google Trends to find keyword phrases relevant over long and short periods.
You can start from 2004 (which is how far back Google lets you go) and measure trends over a year, a month, or even a few hours. The latter is useful if you’re playing with rapid-fire breaking news—though this is rarely the case with B2B content marketing.
This screenshot shows the rise in searches about ChatGPT, an AI-driven language generation robot. While there were small blips in October and November 2022, it caught on like wildfire in December. Breakout trends like these might be worth harnessing, especially if you’re in the B2C market.
A note of caution: You always need an original point of view, especially when the web is filled with content addressing the same topic.
Watching trends play out over time can help your content strategy as you observe peaks and troughs for certain keywords. For example, do certain keywords trend as you approach Earth Day in April? Plan content calendars in advance so you can develop fresh takes every year.
Optimize Your Content on the Right Channels
Successful content uses relevant keywords and presents them in a format that suits the goals of the asset. If your strategy is not limited to written content alone, understanding what kinds of searches to optimize for (news, videos, etc.) will help. Toggle through the other options on Google Trends (Image Search, News Search, etc.) to find what kinds of content are doing well. It might spark ideas for diversifying your content buckets in the future.
Much like cooking, sometimes content strategy requires understanding how well existing content (listicles, blog posts) is performing and how you can repurpose them in new ways. You can also use Google Trends to get inspiration for adjacent categories by looking under the “Related Topics” widget. A related topic for the “Chat GPT” search term, for example, is “artificial intelligence.”
Google Trends can also help you keep tabs on your competition’s content efforts. Enter Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola in the comparison search boxes, and you can tell the cola wars are steady as ever. If your company’s search trend pattern dips compared to others, you may need to refresh your awareness-building efforts.
Research Google Trends for Content Topics with Reach
Google Trends is a helpful tool for identifying content marketing topics that have reach. Careful menu planning still doesn’t guarantee a great meal, however. Delivering consistent content that resonates requires you to understand your audience and audit content regularly to find the top performers.
Use your best judgment. If a keyword term is tired and used often, try and test new topics and approaches. There’s no substitute for well-produced content that is useful, resonates with your readers, and effectively positions your brand. It’s a tried-and-tested recipe that propels your content marketing strategy on the path to success.
To stay informed on all things content, subscribe to The Content Strategist for more insight on the latest news in digital transformation, content marketing strategy, and rising tech trends.