With Google’s ubiquity, seeing what people search for is quite interesting. By looking at trending searches, you can easily find what the hottest topics are, which terms people care about, and gain insight into the minds of internet users.
Did you know that Google provides a powerful tool called Google Trends that lets you access and filter through this information with ease? Let’s take a look at Google Trends and see how to find what’s trending right now, plus much more.
What Is Google Trends?
At its core, Google Trends is a web service that lets you check out what’s trending on Google and see what people search for. While useful for business research, it offers a lot of fun for casual use, too.
On the Google Trends homepage, you’ll see some starter examples of topics to explore. These include worldwide interest in the World Cup by country in the past week, and overall interest in the word “cupcake” worldwide since 2004.
Continue scrolling down, and you’ll see trends inspired by current events. For example, during playoff season for a sport, these might show what regions are searching for which teams.
Further down the page, Google Trends shows what’s recently trending. This is a great way to see what’s getting hot as it starts to take off.
Near the bottom of the page, you’ll find the neat Year in Search archives. In these, you can find the most popular terms on Google for a particular year in a variety of categories, like car models, dog breeds, games, and GIFs.
If you like, you can see these summaries for a different country, or pick Global. Google also provides a brief video overview of the year’s biggest stories through search.
That’s just the homepage, though. Google Trends is capable of a lot more.
How to Search for Trends on Google Trends
Google Trends really shines when you use it to research something you’re interested in. Enter a search term into the top bar, and you’ll see detailed trends for it.
Depending on what you enter, Google Trends considers it either a search term or topic. For example, if you type Call of Duty, you can choose the generic Search term entry or the more specific Video game series.
Google Trends’ comparison help page explains that search terms show matches for all terms in the given language, while topics are groups of terms across languages.
So if you use Washington D.C. as a topic, it will include searches for United States capital and equivalents in other languages. But Washington D.C. as a term will also include partial matches like Washington Nationals, for instance.
Google Trends Search Criteria
Once you enter a search term, you can set a variety of criteria underneath it.
Use the first box to set the region of search. You can choose Worldwide to see everywhere, or even drill it down to specific regions of a country. For instance, under United States, you can select a state like Virginia to see only information for that area. In some regions, you can divide even further, such as by city.
The second dropdown lets you choose the time frame. The default is Past 12 months, but you can select as recently as the past hour, as far back as 2004, or define your own time range. This lets you see trends over years, as well as how a term’s popularity has risen or fallen in the short-term.
Change the All categories box if you want to search in a specific area, such as Books & Literature. Usually, you can leave this on All categories unless a term has multiple meanings. To get more granular, you can choose a sub-category, such as Mobile & Wireless under the Internet & Telecom category.
Finally, you can change the default Web Search to Image, News, Shopping, or even YouTube Search to see trends on those Google sites.
Once you’ve set your criteria, you’re ready to check out the results to learn more about what’s trending.
Google Trends Search Results and Comparison
On the search results page, you’ll see several data visualizations of what you searched for. One is an Interest over time graph, which charts interest on a relative scale of 0-100 for the time period you’ve chosen.
Below this, the Interest by subregion box lets you look closer into the breakdown for your term. You can see which areas are the most and least interested in what you entered. Mouse around on any of these maps to see search breakdowns, and click them for a deeper dive into that area.
At the bottom, you’ll find related queries and topics.
Comparing Trending Topics With Google Trends
Seeing what’s trending like this is interesting on its own, but Google Trends really shines when you use it to compare topics. At the top of the results page, click Compare to add another topic. You can compare up to five terms.
As you add more, you’ll see them color-coded throughout the page. When you search for multiple terms, the Compared breakdown by subregion section lets you see a heatmap of which states, countries, or regions search for which topic most, plus the breakdown among them. It’s a neat way to see what people think of competing topics.
To drill down even deeper, click the three-dot Menu on a search term at the top and choose Change filters. This lets you edit the region or time period for one item. You could use this to see how interest for MacBook in Australia compares to Canadian interest in Laptop, to take a potential example.
Exploring What’s Trending on Google
You can have a lot of fun playing with the Explore features above, but other tools reveal more about trending Google searches. Open the left slide-out menu and choose Trending Searches to see what the world is looking for right now.
This page, on the Daily Search Trends tab, holds the top searches in your area per day, along with their search volume and related stories. It’s a great way to get a snapshot of trending news for each day. Use the dropdown below the search box to look at a different region, or switch to the Realtime Search Trends tab to see terms that have quickly taken off in popularity.
If you’re interested in keeping up with trends on Google, you can also get email notifications for trending topics. Click the Envelope icon at the top-right of the Daily Search Trends tab to get periodic emails about the biggest topics. You can also subscribe via RSS.
Subscribing to Google Trends Updates
The Trending Searches tab lets you sign up for notifications about hot topics, but the Subscriptions section of the left menu lets you get updates about any term or topic you like. Just click the Plus icon in the bottom-right corner to add a new subscription.
Enter a search term or topic you’re interested in, set the region, and specify whether you’d like updates once a week or once a month.
If you want regular updates on how a particular term performs but don’t want to check Google Trends manually all the time, this is a convenient option.
Gain Powerful Insights With Google Trends
We’ve seen what Google Trends offers to those who always wonder what’s trending on Google. Whether you just want to peruse the latest trends or dig into detailed comparisons with data visualization, there’s something here for everyone.
It’s fascinating to see what the world searches for. What will you discover with Google Trends? You might even find that people have searched for information about you.
Someone might be Googling about you right now. It’s more common than you think and it’s important to be aware about it.
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