Monday, August 10, 2009

Learn When to Post What and Attract New Readers: Google Insights for Search

Google Insights for Search is a unique tool that can help you determine when to post about specific topics based on how reader (and potential reader) interest in the topic changes over time.

Google Insights is a cinch to use. Type in a search term. You'll see a graph that shows the popularity of that search term over time. This data,

  • Keeps you current by helping you identify what's hot vs. what's not. Write about the topics your readers are into. Attract potential readers as your posts show up in SERPs and on Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.
  • Helps you identify when readers are/will be interested in hearing about a specific topic (For example, when should I start posting about deals on Halloween costumes?).
Example: Halloween Costumes
Here's an example of how I could use Google Insights to figure out when to post about a particular seasonal topic. A search for "Halloween + costumes" results in the following graph:
Scrolling down, I can also gauge regional interest (by country) in the search term, and below that, a list of keywords related to the search term (good info for SEO purposes).

The graph above shows results over the past five years, and as expected, it shows that interest in Halloween costumes occurs in the weeks before Halloween. Narrowing the time range will provide more helpful information. Here's the data for the same search term from July through December of 2008:

The graph reveals that interest in Halloween costumes (and thus Halloween costume-related posts) began to rise slightly at the beginning of August, rose more sharply from mid September (with the sharpest rise during the week before Halloween) and peaked on Halloween itself. It then fell sharply and was back to "base" levels by mid November. Pretty helpful stuff. I could also use the related search terms and rising searches at the bottom of the page for ideas on what to post about. Halloween costume ideas, anyone?

Similarly, a search for "Christmas" within the shopping category shows that usage of the search term begins to increase slightly in mid-September (!) with a sharper increase in mid October and an even sharper rise in November. Interestingly, interest then levels off through mid December only to rise sharply again during the week before Christmas. Interest falls sharply through the end of the year, though usage of the search term doesn't return to pre-holiday season levels until the end of January.

If you use affiliate links on your site, this is valuable information, as it tells you when you'll get the most love for your link.

Whether posting according to trending topics interests you or not, I encourage you to check out Google Insights. There are dozens of other ways it can help you grow your blog.

What about you, readers? What else could you do with Google Insights?

Learn (lots) more about Google Insights at Google's help page.
Learn how to analyze the data you get with Google Insights.