Stay Ahead of Your Market: Simple 5-Minute Trend Searching

Spotting trends in your industry – before your competitors do.

There’s two great tools that I want you to look at. Google Trends and Google Insights for Search.

These tools allow you to spot upcoming and cyclical trends in 5 minutes. But I bet that if you play with these tools, you’ll find that you can’t stop – there so easy and fun to use!

What’s the benefit to me?

Spot trends in seasonality. You can spot cyclical trends per month, year, or since 2004 (when Insight and Trends kinda came into play).

Spot trends in geography. You can break down the search into the U.S., Connecticut, of Fairfield county if you like. This is good for spotting local trends that other regions might not experience (for instance, snow in California is not an issue, so I focused my example 2 below in the CT region),

Compare multiple keywords. The first example below shows me comparing eCommerce and Magento keywords.

Spot upcoming ‘new’ trends. Insight displays ‘Rising searches’ and it’s a great way to figure out where your industry is going, as you will see below.

What’s the difference between Trends and Insight?

Insight gives you a great deal more data. For one, it allows you to search on various types of data; image and news searches as well as web searches. Also, it allows you to filter for the industry in question; search only in the Automotive category instead all industries.

But what I found most as the most important difference is the ‘Rising trends’ section, which gives you relevant searches ‘on the rise’ – a quick introspective on things your business might be able to take advantage of before your competitors do. More on that later in the examples below.

Example: eCommerce and Magento

Here we’ll look at an example that I did a search of recently. There are many e-commerce packages out there. But one open-source (meaning that the development environment is ‘open’ to any programmer that wishes to modify the code) solution is Magento. Magento is open-source, dialable, and potentially easy to implement.

The Setup.

I wanted to find out if Magento was on the rise … an indicator of whether Magento was here to stay. There are so many e-commerce packages out there, and they seem to disappear faster than hotcakes at a pancake breakfast.

Do a search.

Do this search for Magento vs. eCommerce. This is what we found.

What did we discover on the graph?

Magento vs. eCommerce trend graph over time.

Well, in terms of Magento’s popularity, it is definitely on the rise. In fact, it has surpassed the searches for eCommerce overall, globally, online. That’s an important point – a single program for ecommerce vs. ecommerce (the keyword) is probably a good indication that it’s popular.

But does that mean it’s a great package overall? Well, in an open-source package like Magento, it’s probably a very good thing – it shows that there is a gaining desire to learn about Magento.

What did we discover in the ‘Rising trends’?

We also spotted some rising trends for this search.

'Rising searches' for Magento vs. eCommerce search.

Magento vs. eCommerce 'rising searches'.

Note that we can reorganize these into loose groups of trends.

We then grouped the rising trends into categories.

So, what do the results mean?

There are other players. Rising searches also shows a number of ecommerce packages that are also being search for more and more.

  • 1. wordpress ecommerce – Seems like people are trying to find a solution for e-commerce within the wordpress blog solution. Perhaps I should as well.
  • 3. joomla ecommerce – Joomla is a CMS (Content Management Solution) package. I am not very interested in it as a package overall, since I don’t like Joomla, but it’s interesting to note. Perhaps I will revisit Joomla in the distant future (when it makes better looking websites out of the box)
  • 4. google ecommerce – 550%! Well, that’s something to look into.
  • 9. oscommerce – I really really hate oscommerce. So there.

Could I template what I do? I noted that a few ‘template’ trends are in the mix. I should probably overall do some searches on Magento templates and see if there is some third-party software out there that allows me to modify the standard Magento package quickly and easily.

  • 5. ecommerce template – people overall are trying to find out how to quickly and easily create a non-standard ecommerce look and feel.
  • 8. ecommerce templates – both singular and plural searches are prominent.

Hot Topics. I noted that open-source solutions seem to be a very big hot topic. I feel that I am on the right track with the ‘open source’ requirement I set out before I began this trending search.

Others are searching for the same answer. More and more people are searching for ecommerce solutions, overall. Why? Many reasons we won’t go into here, but needless to say, ecommerce is still a rising trend.

  • 6. best ecommerce – people realize that there are many packages out there, and are probably trying to find a comparison. Food for thought – sounds like a great article in the future for my blog!
  • 10. ecommerce websites – Not sure specifically what this is all about, but noted.

So, good amount of data, there.

I picked up on some good trends, and I am happy. I am going to research WordPress ecommerce solutions further before biting on Magento, but Magento seems like a great solution for me.

Example 2: Auto body repairs

The Setup.

Ultimate Restoration LLC of my clients is an auto body shop, though they do many things. Although we have done some brainstorming together already, Insight is a great way to spot even more trends.

Do a search.

Do this search for auto body repair and examine the data.

Over the entire U.S. the month of auto body repair is in July.

But, we want something for the state of Connecticut, where our customer is (we’re spotting local trends). We have to do the search in CT because there is not enough data to support the ‘Fairfield county’ region. Notice anything interesting?

Note that there is a rise for December-January in 2007 and 2008. Not in 2009, though. Was money tight?

Rise in winter months. We note there is a distinctive rise in the winter. Why?

  • More accidents in the snow. Bingo!

However, we still see a spike in July. Why?

  • Some of those accidents are minor dings. They can wait until the summer. July is crusin’ time around here.
  • Probably because it’s warm and it’s easier to coordinate body work during that time, regardless of damage. The winter in 2009 was REALLY big (in relationship to previous decades) – that means more accidents overall, but still not a great pressing desire to get the work done immediately.
  • Combine the  minor ding ‘waiters’ and the ease of coordination in July because there’s no snow on the ground, and you get the spike.

 

These are important things to mention to my client.

We could run an ad during July for fender benders (damage that could wait) and in December or January (for more serious repairs that couldn’t).

Resultant action: we’ll run a newspaper ad!

This would probably be in the local  newspaper – targeted for our geographic region. But, we could use this logic anywhere – Google AdWords, blog posts, Facebook announcements.

Note that if we were to run ads every month (because we didn’t know any better), not only would we not get the greatest of responses, but it would waste my client’s money. So that could be a savings of thousands right there.

What did we discover in the ‘Rising trends’?

Rising trends in 'auto body repair'.

Reviews are important. It seems that with body shops, there are problems (work isn’t done correctly, overcharged, bait and switch). AND, what’s more important, more people now understand that they can go online and get reviews from others about the experience from social sites.

  • 1. body shop reviews – prompts me to get my client to get tons of testimonials and put them on social sites (like Facebook) and Local search sites (like Google Maps).

Mobile service! Interesting… the rise in mobile auto repair, especially for simple things like oil changes and regular maintenance is a real time-saver, and just as good. What do I do with this?

  • 3. mobile auto repair – Ask client (Lew) to see if he’s interested in creating a mobile service for minor repairs and maintenance. I did – he agreed – and we’ll be rolling out this for the Summer.

What? There are a few things I didn’t understand in the trending. Abra auto body, and glass repair.

  • 2. abra auto body – I did a quick check and there are no Abra auto body (some type of trans-state chain auto body repair shop) in Connecticut, so pass on and worry about it later. But they’re on the radar, now.
  • 4. auto glass repair – What is this? Probably because there was a heavy winter, and that degrades the road, which throws up rocks and cracks windshields. Whatever the case, the trend is up, and that might be an idea to explore. I will now ask Lew if he’s seen a local change in his glass repair business. If he has, I’ll pay more attention to it on the website I built for him.

How you can use trending to help your business…

So that’s what you want to really know about, right? How can I use the data to help my business? Well, let’s recap the information above…

Create pages. You can create new pages on your website to capture these new keywords that relate to searches. That just increases visitor traffic in a relatively easy way.

Free marketing across online networks. Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more social networks to attract visitors through posting at specific times on specific topics throughout the year.

Paid marketing through PPC. You can use something like Google AdWords to exploit this trending, so you only run ads for minor dings in July, etc.

Build ads across offline networks. Things like newspapers, especially for local business, are not that hard to market for, if you know your market. If you don’t, it’s a waste of time. For instance, in the example above, I will be placing an ad in July for minor dings, and an ad in December for major collision (where the car is disabled and not drivable).

Explore further to discover related trends. For instance, when we picked up on mobile auto repair for things like car maintenance and oil changes. You can tie yourself up in this type of searching forever, so make some time, but don’t overdo it.

In conclusion…

Trending through free tools like Google Trends and Google Insight for Search are powerful ways to gain information about your industry. And if you do it, and your competitors don’t, you win!

Greg Cox

Analytics Geek. Gregory likes Motorcycles, Cooking, and Sciencey stuff.