Editor’s note: Today’s post includes a video walk-through showing you exactly how to use Google Trends in under 5 minutes. Read the post, then check out the video by clicking HERE.
Discovering whether or not your product or business idea is trending – or part of a larger theme that is gaining in popularity – is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re brainstorming is moving in the right direction.
If you’re struggling to determine if your next idea is on trend, try this method out:
1. Go to Google Trends (www.google.com/trends/) and type in keywords related to your idea. For example, lets say you’re super excited about a new gadget that you’ve dreamed up for hats (hey, anything’s possible!).
Start by adding the term Hats into the Compare field.
Notice the suggestions that are populated in the drop-down list; select the closest suggestion to your keyword. Using our example, you’ll see the suggestion Hat (Industry) – select this option.
2. Observe the interest over time. Is the interest in your idea or search term increasing over time? If the graph is indicating an upward (or even sideways moving) trend, great news! You’re moving in the right direction.
If the line graph is going downward over time, interest is waning; so you’ll either need to switch gears or niche down to find that diamond in the rough.
3. Niche down to refine your idea. What kind of hat would suite your new invention? A potentially better question is, what kind of hat is popular (and cater your idea to what’s already on trend).
Begin to add more specific terms, such as Fedora, Baseball cap, Beanie, etc. In our example, notice how the fedora style hat was super popular, but has gradually gone down. During the same period, baseball caps held steady, while beanie hats are seeing an overall upward trend.
TIP #1: When attempting to find and compare niches within a larger industry on Google Trends, remove the larger term (e.g. remove the term Hat). This will allow you to zoom in on the sub-categories you are attempting to view.
TIP #2: See how the interest over time for the term Beanie (Clothing) seems to shoot up and down, like waves in the ocean? The graph shows that every year there is a surge in popularity for beanies – this is indicative of a seasonal product (not surprising, given that beanies are typically only worn during colder months of the year). Look for regular, annual surges which indicate seasonal interest (perhaps the best time to spend your future efforts on marketing? 😉
4. Discover world-wide appeal by reviewing the trend activity by geographic location. This is easy on Google Trends with the section on Regional Interest, which helps identify where these topics are trending by geography/global region, right down to the city. This provides the added bonus of showing you exactly where in the world your potential idea might be a hit! Then you can dedicate your resources to promoting within this specific market.
The Related Searches section gives you topics and queries related to your keywords, which could help you discover new keywords to target, content for your marketing efforts or other sub-markets to investigate. These searches can be viewed by popularity (Top searches) and by those that are trending the most (Rising queries).
5. Compare and contrast with other ideas. Let’s say your hat idea is coming together. But you could also adapt your invention to work with sneakers. Which is a better [more promising] target market?
Easy enough to compare…
Go back to Step 1 – enter the term Hats (Industry) again and add the term Shoes (Garment) into the Compare field. A whole new picture begins to unfold. Good-bye hats and Hello shoes!
Now you can go through the steps of this process again, to help niche down which type of shoes you should design your prototype for, where to focus your marketing efforts, etc.
What makes this research really powerful is the ability to compare one topic with another. Although something may appear to be gaining in popularity over time, when looked at in isolation, you’re only seeing a comparison of this topic against its own past.
Adding one or more additional topics gives points of comparison, where you’ll really start to see which topics are trending compared to other similar industries or products.
This is quick-start idea validation at its easiest (and cheapest!) As always, the Good People at Google provide all the data on Google Trends 100% free of charge.
Don’t forget, we’ve also got a special companion video to this post – showing you exactly how to use Google Trends in under 5 minutes. View the video by clicking HERE.