How To Use Google Trends To Predict the Future

by Lacey Gattis
Forecasting, SEO, & Growth

Key Takeaways

  • Google Trends can show you search patterns for almost any topic
  • Using filters on Google Trends can make those patterns clear & precise
  • The related & rising searches that appear in Google Trends are great for research
  • Google Trends will actually forecast some searches for you!
  • Google Trends can help you see whether a trend is going viral

Google Trends is an incredible tool. It’s powerful, easy to use, & takes the guesswork out of making an editorial calendar. Plus, it’s great for shopping (FACT: I’ve bought clothes based off Trends forecasts).

As with many Google products, however, the best features aren’t immediately obvious. Hence this guide!

Below are my favorite top-level tweaks: easy, fast, user-friendly strategies for becoming a Trends Wizard & Overall Unicorn Of Knowledge.

If you have questions after reading, leave ’em in the comments & I’ll do my best to help!

Use Google Trends Explorer

Sure, there’s the front page of Google Trends & all the Top Charts & Trending searches, but you’re a pro — you’re going to go to the Trends Explorer. This is where all the good stuff is buried, & it’s a way underutilized section of the site.

It might look intimidating, but please don’t be worried! Just like Snapchat or Facebook, once someone shows you what the weird icons & suspiciously complicated-looking dropdowns actually do, it’s super easy.

Keep Searches Simple

Help with using Google Trends For Research & Writing

You’re far more likely to get worthwhile insights from a search like ‘rosé’ or ‘Tulum’ than longer, more detailed phrases. And that’s ok, because the best Trends discoveries happen when you start with a straightforward, specific topic & narrow things down from there.

Check The Forecast Box For Instant Insights

Once you’re in the Trends Explorer & typing in topics, look directly above the graph & to the right of the ‘interest over time’ header. You should see three boxes, & the one furthest to the right will say ‘Forecast’. If it’s not grayed out, all you have to do is check the box to see how Google predicts your topic will perform over the next year. Pretty great, right?

Look For Patterns In The Search Graph

If the ‘Forecast’ box is gray, it isn’t available — but it’s not the end of the world! If you can’t get a prediction, usually just looking at a search’s graph will give you an idea about when it’s trending. Most topics are seasonal, so usually a pattern is superlatively obvious.

Google Trends advice for editors, writers, & bloggers doing research

For example, look up at the search pattern for ‘leather wallet’ there. The graph basically yells “PEOPLE CARE ABOUT ME IN DECEMBER”, right?

When You See A Search Graph Without A Pattern, Something’s Up

If you run into a search that seems to have no seasonal pattern, it usually means that the search was too general.

Google Trends introduction for first-time users who are writers, editors, bloggers, or researchers

However, there’s a big, important exception. If the graph just shoots up & to the right — check out the trajectory of ‘liquid lipstick’ above for a good example — then you’re probably looking at a topic that’s either on its way to being a big trend or is completely new & on the rise. When you see one of these, you’ve probably spotted an editorial opportunity!

You Just Got A Weird Error Screen. What Does That Mean?

Either the search was too narrow for Trends (in which case you can usually just make it a bit more general) or you’ve been using Trends really frequently & Google thinks you might be a spammer. Because I am basically glued to Trends 24/7, this happens to me sometimes. You can contact a Google rep & ask them to up your Trends query limit, but for most of us the answer is just to go do something else for a couple of hours & then come back.

Let The Related Searches Box Be Your Guide

The Related Searches box at the bottom of the page is super useful. The box on the right side displays both Top searches & Rising (aka trending) searches related to whatever topic you typed in. It’s extremely useful if you know you want to write about something but don’t know exactly how to approach it.

For example, let’s say you want to write a piece on wedding rings but need a little inspiration. All you have to do is load up the Google Trends page for ‘wedding rings’ & scroll through the Rising searches at the bottom.

how-to-use-google-trends-for-writing-blogging-research (1)

In just a few seconds, we know that in the past 12 months searches for Opal Wedding Rings, Wood Wedding Rings, Silicon Wedding Rings, & Active Wedding Rings have risen significantly. Editorial ideation made easy!

The box on the left is a little broader — it’s related topics. This one comes in handy when you search for something only to realize that it’s not really trending right now or looks like it’s becoming less popular over time. Instead of completely scrapping the idea, check out the trending topics. Lots of times you’ll see an idea in there that makes a great substitute.

Trends Filters Are Awesome

Take a look at the four dropdowns in the blue Explore box at the top of the Trends Explorer homepage. Here’s what each of them actually does:

  1. The dropdown that has ‘Worldwide’ as the default lets you choose the country & even the city — which lets you filter out trends that might not be relevant to your readers
  2. The option marked ‘2004-present’ allows you to choose a time period — super necessary so you can find out what’s trending this month, not just the broadest trends from the past decade.
  3. The list under ‘All categories’ allows you to choose a genre like Shopping, Health, Home & Garden, etc. — important so that if you’re writing about the band Blood Orange you don’t get a bunch of rising searches related to blood orange the fruit or blood orange the paint color.
  4. Finally, the section that says ‘Web Search’ lets you choose between Google’s many search products, from Google Image Search to YouTube Search, Google Shopping Search, & even Google News Search — toggling options anyone who makes videos or publishes lots of original pictures can really use.

In Closing

I’m going to end this article before it gets insanely long, but for those of you who made it to the end A) Thank you for reading!!!, & B) Congratulations — you are now a Level 5 Trends Wizard. Now go out there & use your powers for good… or at least for good shopping.