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.