Using Google Trends to Help Your Business

Google Trends is an incredible tool to see what people are “searching” for around the Globe. Within Google Trends, you can research peak interests of a specific topic on a timeline, look at top questions searched about a topic, and see where these search queries are coming from around the world. Keyword search trends can be used to tell stories and find insights for business alignment. How can a business professional use Google Trends to find insights? Find out below as we explore this topic!

Scenario:

Let’s say you are the social media manager of a coffee manufacturing company in the state of Colorado. Your company is considering getting into the end-user market by opening ten drive-thru coffee shops somewhere in the country in the next 12 months and then another 25 by the following year. Since the first group of shops’ success is crucial for the future of this investment, management wants to limit the location of the first ten shops to a specific area in the country, for logistics reasons. They want to select two or three neighboring states and start with the first ten shops from there. However, they want these two-three neighboring states somewhat close to where the company is located. You, as the head of social media, will make research using Google Trends and prepare a report to the top management. 

Research Terms:

The first thing to do when starting your search on Google Trends is to put in keywords or search terms that relate to drive-thru coffee shops. You can choose up to 5 search terms to compare side-by-side. The terms I input first were: coffee shop, coffee shops near me, drive thru coffee, Starbucks, and Dunkin’.

You can filter your search terms by country, timeline, topics, and search options. I selected United States, 2004 – present, and Food & Drink. The first thing I’d like to see is how the search for coffee trends over time with these keywords.

You can see that (as our addiction grows to caffeine) the search for coffee shops and coffee brands are growing. Starbucks is growing the most, with Dunkin’ following behind. It’s difficult to see the trends of coffee shops particularly because the bigger brands are trending so much. So it would be a good idea to eliminate the big brands and see if we can view the smaller trends better.

After eliminating the big coffee brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’, we can easily see the trends of the smaller search terms, coffee shop, coffee shops near me, and drive thru coffee. Generally, the search for coffee shops and coffee shops near me have grown over time while drive-thru coffee stays the same. The spike in coffee shop searches around 2011 is noted that, “there was an improvement in Google’s geographical assignment/data system was applied.” The sudden decline of coffee searches is in April of 2020, when everything shut down due to COVID-19. It seems that searching for where to purchase coffee is more important than the actual drive-thru. I could also make a case that most people assume that a coffee shop would have a drive-thru.

Breakdown:

Looking at the interest in these keywords by subregion, we can identify which areas of the U.S. search for these terms the most. Luckily for me, Colorado, the state the coffee company will begin, loves coffee!

According to the scenario, I would have to choose two or three neighboring states to branch out to. My recommendation based on these maps would be to start in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. These states search for coffee more often than Colorado’s northern neighbors. If we had to narrow down to cities to open these coffee branches in, we could look at the city or metro breakdown.

There isn’t enough data to produce a graph for “drive-thru coffee” so we will look at the other two search terms, coffee shop and coffee shops near me. It’s clear there are certain areas in each state that searches for coffee. Based off of the state recommendation, the cities I would recommend opening in are Denver, CO, Salt Lake City, UT and Phoenix, AZ.

Conclusion:

I hope this scenario was helpful in understanding how you can use Google Trends to leverage business decisions. Analyzing search trends is a great way to see what people are searching for and finding what is important to them. There is a vast amount of data at your fingertips, and it’s important to dig into these free tools to help boost your business.