Using Google Trends

By William Bakker | 07.17.06 | 2 Comments

Google Trends is a pretty cool tool for the online marketer’s toolkit. It allows you to trend search keywords over the last few years, by country. For North America, it will also try to corelate the news to search volume, although it’s not doing a very good job at the moment. Here’s one example of how I would use it:

When do people start planning ski vacations?
When is the right time to start marketing skiing? And does it differ by country? Let’s see if Google trends can give us the answer.

United States
The graph above the time scale indicates the number of searches for the keyword “Whistler” and “Vail”. The graph below the time-line shows the number of references in new sites. You can see that both resorts are searched year-round but things start to spike in early October. Perfect time to launch a ski campaign. It also seems that Vail was a little more popular in the US last season vs. the season prior.

In Canada it’s a little different. The number of searches correlates to when it snows in Whistler. Last year, for example, the first snow fell in the last week of November and another big dump fell just before Christmas. Exactly when the searches for Whistler happen.

United Kingdom
So what about a little further away? In the United Kingdom, I selected more generic keywords and it becomes very obvious when the Brits start planning a ski trip. They basically start in the fall, and it doesn’t matter if it’s for the Alps or Canada. I wonder if the big tour operators start their campaigns around that time, it could very well influence the time when online planning starts.

Skiing in Japan is hot with Australians at the moement. I used a popular Japanese resort to compare against Whistler. Based on what Google tells me, this seems to be correct that Australians are starting to favour Japan. Niseko came out of nowhere to compete with Whistler. It looks like the real planning in Australia doesn’t start until later then one would expect.

As you see, Google Trends can be a valuable tool, in particular when you combine with other traditional research methods. I’m using it all the time and find it very useful.