Can Google Trends Help You Understand Website Traffic?

Google Trends is a tool that does more than you might think. Here is how it can help you understand website traffic.

Video Transcript

David: Things ebb and flow. I had a client. They were a landscaper, a super-premium landscaping company, and we used this tool Google Trends to help us. I recommend Google Trends as a way to get data for keyword research, and it’s great for that.

David: But let’s just do… landscaping. Okay. So first of all, we have a couple of choices. Do we want to just look at the search term for landscaping? Or do we look at the topic of landscaping? I kind of prefer topics because they include more than just one word. It might include just the idea. And especially if we’re looking at industry trends for our client, the topic is going to include more than one phrase. So, already, we’re starting to see things. This is for the last day. So, let’s do the past twelve months. So, here we see that April is when landscaping starts to happen. Then it’s just on the decline, decline, decline, until Christmas. Suddenly, after Christmas, people start to say, hey, what are we going to do this year? And then February, and then March, people are starting to really pay attention. And so, we can kind of see that, hey, if I was a landscaper and my search traffic and customer acquisition was down, but it’s November or December, what do I expect? But if my traffic is down, and it’s April, May, or March, oh, oh, something might be wrong.

David: Now, this is even better. This landscaper can’t serve everywhere in the country. Let’s say the United States. North Carolina. There we go. So, Asheville, North Carolina, is within this demographic region called the Greenville-Spartanburg, Asheville, North Carolina regional group. So now I’m limiting the traffic for search trends for the area where my client can serve. So, what’s unique about Asheville is there’s a huge demand that starts to increase around March. It peaks in April, and then it’s fairly steady through the fall. But then, after September, people go back to school. Right? So, I like to use Google Trends data to help me see where my client might be falling for seasonality problems when the client’s industry isn’t quite as obvious as in this example. That’s what makes landscaping a good example of this. It’s obvious. Yeah, during the winter in the United States, nobody’s doing landscaping. Maybe if we did Florida… It shifted. Okay. Look at how much different Florida is. All right, Christmas time. Everybody’s putting money into the GI Joes with Kung Fu Grip. If you’ve ever seen Trading Places, anyway. But that’s a different ballgame than Asheville, North Carolina.

David: Now, what you can do, rather than doing landscaping, is you can enter the same idea, this topic, or a topic that is related to your client’s industry into here because it’s not always obvious to those of us who don’t work in that industry. So, let’s think of an interesting industry. Let’s just do the search term, Industrial Machinery. Well, in Florida, United States… Alright. Well, as with most B2B companies, they’re down around Christmas, and they spike at the New Year. And it looks like they kind of trend down. But, they have almost a slow summer. And then when summer returns, they’re up a little bit and down. So, what we can do is we can pull more. We can look at the past five years. And we can see, oh, yeah, there are ebbs and flows. We can also download this data, put it into Excel, do some interesting little trend analysis, and say, Hey, you know what your seasonality says? January is usually really big. Now, in my experience working with B2B companies, Januarys are typically really big for clients. Summers tend to be a little slower. November and December tend to be pretty slow. But Januarys are typically really big for my B2B clients.

David: I can use this data to explain traffic, especially in industrial machinery. Who knew there was a slight seasonality to this? Now, what you can also do is you can see Linder Industrial Machinery. If they were a client of mine, I could have a whole new idea with this. So, I could track things like a bunch of people are talking about my client. How does that affect my search traffic? Because if people are talking about my client, I’m not a PR firm, so it’s probably not what I’ve done. That helps me explain ebbs and flows.

David: Actually, I can say this at this point. I used to work for an agency, and my client was Musak. Terrible music. Well, I came back one day after a weekend, and their search traffic was off the chart, and I’m like, wow, what a great SEO I am. Look at what I did for this company. I shot them through the roof. No. They were featured on CBS Sunday Morning the day before. And everybody’s like, oh, let’s look at Musak’s website. If I were to monitor the brand Musak here, I could then say, Oh, hey, there was a big spike in traffic after your showcase, but it wasn’t because of what I did. And we can kind of see the impact of that. So, what I’ve done is pull these reports, do some Excel magic, and compare them to my search engine sessions every month. To say, hey, are trends up or trends down? If my client’s big enough to earn a topic by their brand name, I will add that, too, to see if a bunch of people are talking about my client and if that’s making my search engine results go up.

David: What’s interesting is if you compare that data, you can see we have a benchmark against which we’re comparing ourselves. Our traffic is going up, even though demand in the industry is going down. Or vice versa. So, this can help you with the idea of trying to weed out because we will never know what our competitors’ traffic is. There are tools that claim to be able to estimate that. But once you understand how they work, they usually tend not to be very helpful, but this is Google Trends. Now, understand what the numbers mean, too. 100 means a lot of people were searching for that, not that 100 people were searching for that. Zero means nobody was interested that week. So, we can’t really say, oh, 100 means 100 visitors, but we can kind of use this to say, oh, there was a lot of interest this week. What happened that week was a trade show season where they showcased somewhere. Did they get a lawsuit and they got in trouble? And everybody’s talking about them? This can really help with some of that stuff.

Onawa: It will at least give me something more to look at.

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