An introduction to Google Trends… and turkeys

In case you’re not already familiar with Google Trends, it’s a free nifty tool that quickly and easily measures the popularity of search terms for practically anything. If it’s been searched enough to be statistically relevant, you can measure it on Google Trends.

You don’t need special skills or training to use Google Trends. It’s a super simple handy resource for understanding the search terms that people use in connection with your business or organization. With that valuable information literally at your fingertips, you can begin to unlock some of the SEO potential of your marketing efforts as well as harvest objective data that can drive key business decisions.

Using turkeys to understand Google Trends

To illustrate how Google Trends works and to get a basic understanding of how you can then use the data, let’s look at the word, “turkey” (the bird). What do we get when we do a “worldwide” query for “turkey” in Google Trends?

Roll over the spikes and you can see that “turkey” is most frequently searched in November every year with December coming in a respectable second. We can also see that November searches for turkey are on the rise.

By getting creative and testing assumptions, we can tease out some more data that we can then use to make objective insights about general behaviours or correlations. First, I’m going to hypothesize that the spike in November is because of the American Thanksgiving holiday when turkey is part of the traditional meal. There are 300 million Americans and this is a non-denominational holiday, so that’s a lot of turkey. Let’s test our assumption and check “turkey” again but this time, only in America:

It’s clear that Thanksgiving is the frontrunner “turkey season” in America, with Christmas trailing far behind. Now let’s look at the upward trend. What can account for it? Let’s start by querying some known demographic changes in America and try to make some correlations. First, let’s look at the rising Hispanic population. Have they embraced turkey season as new Americans? Let’s put this question to Google Trends. In Cuba, “turkey” is “guanajo”, in Mexico “guajolote” and “cócono”, in Colombia, it’s “pisco” and finally in Guatemala, it’s “chompipe”. Let’s go with “guajolote” and limit our search to America. Have Mexican immigrants in America adopted the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner?

It sure looks like it. If you link to the full report you will also see the searches are done in Texas and California where Mexican immigrants have settled. We can then go on to test more Hispanic immigrant groups as well as other demographic shifts such as the rise of the millennial generation, aging baby boomers, the rise in smaller households, etc.

The tricky part is to ask the right questions. How would you query the turkey-consuming habits of millennials for example? You will have to work with a combination of existing data and educated assumptions. For example, we know millennials are interested in eating more organic foods. They also prefer fresh ingredients and freshly prepared items. So let’s look at the search term, “organic turkey” in America.

As we can see, the turkey-consuming habits of millennials, the health-conscious and individuals who care about the treatment of animals are also on the rise in American Turkey season.

Let’s look to see what happens when we query “turkey” in the UK where they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

There is definitely no spike in November but turkey popularity is clearly the highest in December in the UK. Christmas turkey? The correlations are obvious. The holiday season is synonymous with turkey season.

With just a few more queries in Google Trends based on a combination of known data as well as some educated assumptions, we can begin to draw a detailed picture of turkey-consuming habits around the world. Of course, this is an over simplification but you can already see how powerful this tool can be. Turkey producers and marketers can use this information to:

  • track consumers’ eating behaviours
  • segment demographics
  • time sales and marketing efforts
  • make better business decisions
  • improve SEO ranking for online marketing
  • understand the regional marketplace better

Try Google Trends today. Play with keywords. Get creative with queries so you can draw a picture of what your audience needs and where and when. Test your assumptions. Get this powerful tool working for you.