Improve Your Marketing Strategy In 10 Minutes With Google Trends

by Toby

December 19, 2015


One common denominator to almost all industries is seasonality. Most industries have a high and a low in a one-year timeframe.

How could you make better marketing decisions if you had a long-term view of exactly when the downturns or upturns were in your industry? What could you do differently?

Understanding seasonal fluctuations can help you:

  • Manage expectations for sales
  • Provide better understanding into industry trends
  • Improve your focus on the bigger picture and to not panic when things slow down due to normal seasonal trends
  • Plan more effective promotions at different times of the year
  • Improve marketing messages
  • Grow marketing ROI
  • Develop better marketing strategies
  • Plan content strategies and SEO

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Perhaps you’re new to your business, or you just think you know what your industry fluctuations are throughout the year. But do you really know?

In consulting, I can’t tell you how often each year during regular seasonal downturns, like clockwork, I receive emails and calls from the same clients asking me if everything is ok. Some clients will even tell me that they are heading into their busiest season of the year yet leads are down.

On the contrary, often when I look at the trends in a particular client’s industry, it’s clear that the industry is trending down as part of a seasonal fluctuation which explains the slowdown in leads.  The clients will tell me, we’re not getting calls, everything has slowed down, is our marketing still ok?

Of course, nobody is calling me and asking if our marketing efforts are ok when the phone is ringing off the hook during peak times.

Google Trends – Big Data Help

One of the great underutilized, and unknown, tools for understanding your business’ industry fluctuations is Google Trends. Google Trends can help you understand the cyclical ups and downs in your industry.

Google collects so much search and consumer information that it is very effective at highlighting what’s happening in your industry.

Industry Trend Example

Let’s take a look at how you can leverage Google Trends for more efficient marketing strategies.

A trend right now in the beauty industry is retail eyelash extensions. Below is Google Trends data taken for that query.

Seasonal Industry Trends

If we just look back to 2012 in the chart and then forecast into this next year, every year the peak for these queries is in the summer with a rapid drop-off downward into the holidays. This makes sense considering the primary demographic is women. Once you get past the summer, the kids go back to school and the focus shifts to family and continues through to the holidays. Once we get past the holidays, interest picks up in January and the industry continues to gain momentum and peaks once again in the summer.

Our agency has clients in this industry and in November I started to receive concerned questions regarding the health of our online marketing efforts.

I even had one client that said leads had continued to decline since the summer and that they were supposedly heading into their peak season of December. The decline he mentioned he was experiencing was in full support of what Google Trends was showing (peak in the summer and steady decline into the holiday months), but contrary to what he also said, they weren’t heading into their peak season in December but instead trending into the slowest time of the entire year.

Is The Fluctuation More Than Seasonal?

Sometimes an industry downturn is more than just seasonal, but instead, a larger overall systemic decrease across the board and all months are down.

Industry trend data – 2015 search volume lower compared to 2014

The above Google Trends chart is for queries related to “massage” and narrowed down geographically to only the Houston metro area. The reason I highlighted Houston was that it is highly dependent on oil and gas-related jobs which are not doing too well with the current low oil prices. For massage-related queries, the data clearly indicate that interest as a whole has ratcheted down across the entire year of 2015 versus 2014. And in the last month, shown here, it has dipped to its lowest point in 3 years. This is more than a seasonal downturn – this is indicative of a larger systemic issue in Houston as a whole most likely attributed to the issues in the oil and gas industry.

Improving Your Marketing Strategy

Knowledge is power. Knowing this data, you can make decisions that will improve your company’s marketing strategy.

Work With The Trends, Not Against Them

Knowing that your industry drops in the summer, you could implement advertising tactics that spur more growth and interest:

  • Develop aggressive promotions or discounts
  • Market more aggressively to your existing customers since they are more likely to buy from you
  • Implement a referral program where you incentivize your customers to refer their friends
  • Leverage email marketing
  • Plan content for SEO in advance of seasonal changes

These are just some ideas, but this is the time you need to become creative in marketing. With Google Trends, you can prepare well in advance because you can see when the downturns or upturns occur.

Understand The State Of Mind Of Your Customer

As the expression goes, get in your customers’ shoes – what are their stress points during these periods? How can you craft messages that will resonate with them or better meet their needs?

In cases presented above, women (and men too) have shifting priorities with their kids as they return to school in September, and then all sorts of stress entering the holidays – use this information to help craft more effective marketing messages tailored to the time of the year and needs of your target audience.

Working against consumer trends and search behaviors means you’re still doing the same advertising tactics, same messages, and marketing strategies at all times. Ignoring your industry’s trends is like swimming upstream.

And as your industry trends upward towards its yearly peak, perhaps back off promotions and incentives and just maximize awareness of the brand.

How To Use Google Trends

Once at Google Trends, you will a search box where you can enter your keyword or topic. You might need to experiment with different topics, but it’s best to identify what are the most popular search terms people use to find your products or services?

If you are too narrow Google Trends may not have enough data to trend for you so you will have to experiment.

Google Trends Search Box

When you enter your query, you will see something similar to the below.


From here there are many options you can use to refine the data. By default, Google Trends is showing you data globally, and so you can refine that to your country, state, or city to see it more granular.

Below I’ve narrowed this query down to the state of Texas and what cities within the state have the highest volumes. You can also click on a city name to see that city’s data, but realize that if you get too granular, some queries won’t have enough meaningful data.


Wrapping It Up

There are a lot of options to uncover areas of opportunity within Google Trends and this post was to look at the larger trends to help refine your marketing strategy.

Pro Tip:

Consider looking at the Related Searches section for other keyword opportunities. In particular, click on the right-hand side and see what the Top queries are and then what is Rising for new opportunities.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you did, please pass it along and share it on social media, email it to someone, or leave a comment or question below to the benefit of the community.

About the author 


Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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