Market Research Using the Google Playground

You’ve heard of Google’s search engine. You’ve heard of Google AdWords (pay-per-click ads). You’ve heard of GMail.

But have you explored Google’s technology playground, called Google Labs? “Technology playground” is the term that Google uses to describe Labs. Labs showcases new applications that Google is playing around with. One of those is Google Trends.

Using Google Trends in Marketing

Google Trends shows trends in searches. For instance, it will show whether a particular search term is becoming more or less popular over time.

Over at The App Gap I recently wrote about using Google Trends to test the growth in the phrase “cloud computing.” Here is what I discovered. The term seemingly came out of nowhere in late 2007. Growth exploded from there, as this chart shows:

Google Trends shows growth in searches

Growth in searches for “cloud computing” since October 2007

So, you might wonder, how exactly would you use information from Google Trends in marketing? Let’s take my example above showing that “cloud computing” is becoming a more popular phrase. One simple idea is to start using that phrase more frequently in your marketing materials. press releases and website, if it applies to your business. People will be looking for that phrase. You want to communicate with them using words they are looking for.

Using Google Insights in Marketing

But the real gold in marketing comes from Google Insights for Search. Google Insights lets you see search activity patterns over geographic regions, over periods of time, and in other insightful ways.

Again, over at The App Gap, I wrote about using Google Insights to test a competitor’s foothold within different states. For instance, there I used it to create this state map showing search volume for “WordPress”:

Search volume for “WordPress” since 2004, by state

As you can see, WordPress is a more popular search term in Western states such as California, Utah, Oregon and Washington.

Of course, the data is limited because it relates only to search volume. But it could give you valuable insight into the relative consumer awareness that competing products have in a particular state. Or it might tell you whether it is worthwhile to spend the money to exhibit at a seminar or tradeshow in that location.

Free Marketing Tools — Available Instantly

So try out Google Trends and Google Insights. Consider them free marketing tools — not your only source of market intelligence but a free source you get almost instantly. At the very least they can give you a starting point for doing additional market research.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

12 Reactions
  1. I have been using Google trends and Insight for a little while and find it of benefit. I see it as you said a tool which helps a business and it is free!

  2. I agree – Google trends, along with Google AdWord keyword tool, is two of the best FREE tools in market research.


  3. The WordPress map is surprising. At first I was ready to dismiss the map as all about population numbers — states with the most population would have more searches. However – if that was true:

    (1) Why does Utah have so much activity?

    (2) Why wouldn’t a state like New York or Texas or Pennsylvania or Illinois — with greater population — have more searches?

    So it doesn’t break down just according to population. Maybe there is something to this data.

  4. Google is becoming such a god send for small businesses. Both of these applications are really helpful and best of all, they are free! Google is always tweeking and creating the best & most helpful apps. Have you heard that they are releasing the Google Chrome browser this week? You can read about it on my blog.

  5. Thanks Anita,
    I had been using Trends for some time but had not yet looked into Insights. Lots of great info there.

  6. I’m always surprised by the strides that Google takes for small business. And offering free tools and services has made many embrace Google as the “go to” place for free small business resources. I’m going over to Amanda’s blog . . . what is the chrome browser? Sounds interesting . . .

  7. I am interested in buying an audiobook that will help me sell my two book.

  8. I used it recently to check out the tea and coffee market. I will play around with more in the future.

  9. Another way to use google is to use the search suggestion results from the search box on the main page and notice which phrases have the least amount of results. In this way you can find the least competitive search terms that are still being searched.
    Also, use the website trends in Google trends. See what search terms find your competitor.

  10. At first thank you Anita for this good post
    Another good tool you can use in Google is Google Analytics and waching Google hot trends daily

  11. I think it provides a useful starting point for small businesses trying to explore new markets, and discerning patterns, temporally and geographically to use in a marketing and advertising strategy. Google have a lot of tools which can be used in conjunction with one another in this regard. (trends, insights, adwords, analytics etc).