Google recently launched Google Trends, a tool that allows you to view keyword search trends by year and month. You can also view trends by news mentions and by region/country of searchers performing searches.

Here are some real-world ways you could use the data in Google Trends to help you get a jump on your competitors and assess their search penetration. Each of the methods gives an example of how to get the most from this truly useful tool.

Keyword Prioritization

One of the first keyword tools ever publicly available was the goto keyword suggestion tool (now overture keyword suggestion tool). Back in 1998-99 it was great, but like any keyword research tool it has its shortcomings, which are still inherent in today's incarnation of the tool. Here are two biggies:

  • It makes many keywords default to the plural, so if I search for "accounting job" it lumps together the singular and plural into one figure, which won't help you determine if the singular or plural version is most popular.

  • The number of searches shown is displayed f only or the previous month, thus giving you no insight into trends that occur over time.

The Google Trends tool can help offset those issues in two ways, resulting in better data from the overture tool (and most other keyword tools):

  1. The obvious one is that it shows more than a one-month view; you can see trends in keyword searches and ramp ups to peak seasons.

  2. More importantly, you can determine which version of a keyword singular vs. plural gets more searches, thus allowing you to target the most popular variation first. Here is a comparison for "accounting job" vs. "accounting jobs"  which easily shows that the plural consistently gets searched more often then the singular. When comparing "diamond ring" vs. "diamond rings," you'll see that there is little to no discernable difference between the two versions. As an SEO veteran with 8+ years in organic optimization, I'm convinced that using this tool to help me prioritize which keyword gets the most eyeballs will become a critical part of how I assist clients in squeezing the most value from our efforts.

Question: Which do you think is most popular? New York City hotel or New York City hotels? Take a guess, then click here to find out. Were you right? Putting a priority on the wrong term could result in significant unrealized leads and sales.

Timing Online Marketing Initiatives

A search for the words "skiing" and "snowboarding" shows that around September we begin to see an uptick in search activity going into the ski season. If you are a merchant selling skis and snowboards, the trends for the words "skis" and "snowboards" (product-based searches) shows a pick up in activity beginning in late July/early August for people searching for skis and snowboards (which may show different levels of purchase intent when compared to someone searching for skiing or snowboarding).

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Wil Reynolds is the founder and head marketing strategist of SEER Interactive (, a search optimization and Web marketing firm located in Philadelphia.