Taking a good look at what people are searching for in 2016 can give us some interesting insights into what’s coming up the trends of the collective consciousness. It’s important to note that utilizing ‘Google Trends’ to analyze search data simply isn’t hard scientific data – but it is good for seeing patterns.
Why do search trends matter for my business?
Google Trends can be used to help your company’s content creators better understand what people want to know about. It can also be used to gauge brand interest over time, and aid your content creation.
Want to know what searches are trending in 2016?
And what it will tell us about people’s interests and search habits?
Here are the categories we’re going to cover (click to skip to them):
What Google Trends is good for and what it’s not good for
What is Google Trends is not good for? Making grand assumptions about major political decisions, or other important decisions without backing them up with numbers from elsewhere. It was widely publicized after the June 23rd ‘Brexit’ vote that ‘What is the EU?’ was trending in search: but it only felt that way because there WAS a spike in searches but it was likely only around 1,000 total searches.
Always remember that Google Trends data is relative to how often other searches are entered. For instance in the above image you can see that Game of Thrones was searched 50 times as many times in the same 24 hour period as “What is EU?” when a bunch of publications (like The Washington Post’s article) made a giant to-do about how much it was searched. It’s a little interesting, but it could have easily been people under 13 searching, and it’s disingenuous of the publications to make such a big deal without explaining how much it was searched in comparison to other things.
What is Google Trends good for? Based on Google Search, Google Trends allows you to see how much a particular term is entered relative to the total search-volume and in different states, regions or countries throughout the world. You can use it for seeing the general search interest throughout the last ten years, or how much more or less people are interested in it in different geographical areas. Use it to create things people are looking for and find things to write posts about!
Arts & Entertainment – Search Trends 2016
- Euro 2016
- David Bowie
- Batman vs. Superman
- Donald Trump
- Game of Thrones
- Pokemon Go
- Kanye West
Comparing the term ‘Kanye West’ to ‘Taylor Swift’: Surprise! Swifties are winning on this one. Taylor Swift is getting many more searches over time. I honestly thought that interest in Kanye West outweighed interest in Taylor Swift, but boy was I wrong.
Comparing Hulu to Netflix over time – I think this might be one instance where you could really draw some conclusions about the general interest trajectory of these businesses and some of their prospects. Let’s look at the data – Hulu had 9 Million subscribers at last count vs. Netflix at 70.1 worldwide subscribers. Hulu claims it’s subscriber based has stayed steadily on the rise since it raised its prices from eight to $12 dollars a month.
You can use Google Trends to compare two topics before creating content about one, using research based on search trends. Perhaps you are about to create content around a popular entertainment topic or personality, but you aren’t sure which one. Consider using Google Trends to get a feel for how much people are searching for each.
Why does it matter for your business?
Autos & Vehicles – Search Trends 2016
- Moto G4
- Honda Civic 2016
- Range Rover
- Lamborghini Aventador
- Price – Quotation Source
Comparing a term like ‘Bikes / Bicycles’ to its overall category of transportation: Of course the scale here is different and just for a feel of how the search trend is moving. The dotted line is ‘Bicycle’ and the dark blue line is general interest in ‘Auto’s and Vehicles’ category overall. As you can see the summer is the high peak, and the dip is the winter.
You can use Google Trends to search for your product category – but also be sure to compare that to searches in the overarching category as well. In this case it seemed like ‘Bikes’ was going down, but overall searches for transportation on Google are going down (per capita), so it’s probably not the best place to jump to a conclusion.
Why does it matter for your business? You can use Google Trends to find how your category products looks against the overarching category overall. By recognizing where your category is comparatively, it may help you position yourself differently or get a better picture of the full story of the market. Or perhaps consider comparing brands against each other if you’re looking for another way to figure out which brands to emphasize in your product line-up.
Here’s a comparison of five highly searched for Bike Brands in Google trends:
Beauty & Fitness – Search Trends 2016
To put it in perspective: Crossfit vs. Yoga. vs. Barre vs. Kettlebells vs. Running in Google Trends – This probably doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested in running – you just don’t really need that much information to run, so it might not be something you put into Google Search as much.
Tattoo vs. Makeup vs. the overall Beauty and Health industry
What state is searching the most for make-up per capita? Nevada, followed by California
What state is searching the most for tattoos per capita? Wyoming, followed by West Virginia
Why does it matter for your business? Well, considering the fitness trend above that highlights yoga as very popular and crossfit as a rising star, this might matter more if you’re in the fitness industry, and are considering what to focus on.
If you’re in the fitness or beauty industry – you could use Google Trends to find what people are more interested in your area and make sure you’re highlighting on that service.
Books & Literature – Search Trends 2016
- Game of Thrones
- Life Quotes
- Fan Fiction
- Love Quotes
Probably what’s most interesting to me about this category is the overall trend line for Books & Literature in the past 12 years since Google Trends started. Are people actually reading less?
The numbers do support the Google Trend according to Pew Research Center – 72% of people have read a book (whole or in part in any format) during 2015, down from 79% from in 2012.
Let’s add a little comparison to Netflix (the light blue line) – yes this isn’t a particularly scientific argument, but it could be pretty easy to conclude that people are dropping the books for a little netflix and chill.
Why does it matter for your business? Recognizing that people want to be entertained, not just informed is an important point to help inform your content strategy. Do you have all dry, informational articles and content or do you occasionally branch out to funny videos, memes and gifs? The world runs in a way which serves people’s desire for instant gratification so keep that in mind with your content and social media marketing strategies.
Also people apparently love ‘quotes’, so consider how you could curate interesting quotes in a way that could speak to your core demographic, entertain and delight.
Business & Industrial – Search Trends 2016
- “How To”
- Download – Website Category
Why does it matter for your business? I think what’s interesting here is that people seem to be using Google so often for just getting to other websites they likely know the web address to. Instead of typing in facebook.com in their address bar, they’re typing in Facebook pressing enter and navigating to it through Google.
Considering that Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are all accessed primarily by their mobile app, likely less people would be accessing them by google or their web browser – that would partially explain why Facebook has so much more Google searches than the others – of course it also has a huge user-base.
The amount of Google searches for ‘Instagram’ is steadily on its way up, surpassing Twitter who is just barely above Linked In right now and on its way down from a Google search perspective. Snapchat is all the rage, but its trend line is still nowhere near the competitors. Once again, this could be somewhat explained by the fact Snapchat is not something you access except through mobile app so you wouldn’t lazily type it into google.
I do think the popularity of these social networks in search does have implication for where you should spend the bulk of your social media marketing efforts, as long as you weigh it with the type of industry you’re in. Recruiters of course will spend the bulk of their time on LinkedIn, but if you’re selling the newest hippest headphones in the world Instagram and Snapchat might be a great way to augment your Facebook marketing efforts seeing as that’s where you’re prime demographic is spending more time. Even though Twitter is fizzling a bit, it’s still the place where a lot of conversation is going on, in real time and without a lot of pretense, which means it’s still relevant.
Beyond this, for content planning the search trend of ‘How To’ as a category has obvious implications for what we could provide on our websites to help increase brand awareness and be useful to our prime demographic. The fact that ‘How To’ is a Google Trend for 2016, just means to me that we can share as much as we can about how people can do some of what we do. If you’re in a highly specialized field that most people won’t be able to do themselves, you could use this formula: “how to choose the right lawyer” or “how to know if I’m liable for…” if it’s at all possible to give away nuggets of value (with the appropriate law-abiding caveats,) lean towards sharing a lot.
A couple things to note about “How To” articles: Just because someone sees how a thing can be done, doesn’t mean they’ll want to do it themselves. People also will always assume there’s a lot more where that came from, even if you share your best stuff.
Computers & Electronics – Search Trends 2016
- Galaxy S7
- Xbox One
- Windows 10
- Kindle Fire
Products as they come out seem to get a really nice jolt right at the beginning of their life cycle which makes a ton of sense. It is kind of interesting each of the trend lines has two humps in it, the first initial launch and then perhaps the news stories and product reviews that follow shortly after.
Why does it matter for your business? Leverage your launches! When you have a new product out, don’t neglect to get it into the hands of people who will review it on their blog and share it with their audience. Social media influencers and bloggers are an amazing resource for telling the story of your product, but they’re often overlooked.
Finance – Search Trends 2016
- Crude Oil Prices
- Wells Fargo Login
- Exchange Rate
- Walmart Savings Catcher
- Credit Karma
- IRS Refund Status
Wells Fargo and Bank of America top the list of banks for the past five years in search, and it’s interesting to see that they are neck and neck in search trends the last few year (before that Bank of America was ahead), and this last couple years Wells Fargo is taking a clear lead in the amount of searches it garnered.
Why does it matter for your business? Once again, because logins were so present in the trending searches here, I think it’s important to note how much people are using Google just to do basic navigation around the web – potentially even just to get to your company’s login page. Optimizing that login page so that it’s easily accessible and identifiable to search engines is important.
Food & Drink – Search Trends 2016
- Food Near Me
- Pizza Near Me
Local searches including ‘near me’ are on the rise, as people become more and more reliant on search just for quick bite to eat. Likely no one is surprised by the relative popularity of Pizza, Sushi and Starbucks or even the healthier Vegan, Smoothie and Avocados on this list – because this was a worldwide search – Tortes even made it into the list even though Tortes aren’t particularly popular in the US.
What if we go ultra local? So for interest, if we had a Minneapolis web design and SEO client needed to know what to feature on their website and what to create ‘make your own desert’s’ when promoting a Nutella or Oreo based desert? Well.. vs. Worldwide results – Oreo is way more popular on search in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area.
What does it mean for your business? How to use Google Trends for Local SEO should be sneaking into your consciousness about now – as you can start to see which content topics are more popular locally, and will help you create content for the things people care about in your area.
Health – Search Trends 2016
- Depression & Anxiety
Self diagnosis seems to be a common thread of search trends for health in 2016. More and more doctors are allowing clients to have digital visits and even get prescriptions without physically entering a doctor’s office and this trend is likely going to continue as so much of medicine is symptom related.
Medical cannabis / weed / marijuana is starting to generate more interest than opioid based pain medication Vicodin – As marijuana became legal in Colorado, California and Oregon. Recently, public interest in its medicinal uses has grown based on Google Trends.
What does it mean for your business? If you’re in the medical fields, becoming a resource for patients trying to figure out what their symptoms and pains mean will draw in search traffic and give brand awareness. I searched ‘WebMD’ and convinced myself I have Ebola, Zika, and Cancer is almost a meme – but the reality is many brands who offer solutions to symptoms should consider providing a directory of those symptoms that they purport to help and provide comprehensive help with adjacent symptoms to be the one to give positive solutions through well-written expert content.
As for the weed thing – more and more businesses are finding creative ways to use medical marijuana and hemp that were previously off-limits. Entrepreneurial spirits who have a savvy idea for how to leverage the ‘green gold rush’ would do well to test the market and stick with it when they find something that works. I’ll throw my hat in the ring – how about adult-sized bags of gushers for those with the munchies.
Online Communities – Search Trends 2016
- Ashley Madison List
- Dating App
These are the trends for online communities in the U.S. in 2016. If you’ve dipped a single toe into the cess pool that is Twitter or most social networks over the past 12 months you aren’t surprised by gifs and memes being on this list. The older among us (I’m ancient now since I’m 30) may not be as heavily into the torrents and Dating apps, but the search trend is strong.
Writing an article where you want to feature gifs or memes? Both are popular, but the search term ‘meme’ currently holds the Google search crown.
What does it mean for your business? Besides gifs and memes in content strategy, online community search trends suggest torrents are something to be highly aware of (for those that sell entertainment.) Artists, record labels and movie production studios all have seen torrenting cut into their bottom line – but their they’re likely never going to be able to stop piracy.
So how do you work around it? Find a new monetization strategy? Musicians have to tour more to make up the money – some even have leaned into the current culture and offer their work on their site at a ‘pay what you want’ fee. Whatever your way to deal with it, if you’re in the entertainment business, creating convenience is a major opportunity you have over torrenting and you shouldn’t ignore the steady trend of pirated entertainment.
Pets & Animals – Search Trends 2016
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Grumpy Cat
- Pet Rescue Saga
- Puppy Monkey Baby
Besides the obvious leaders ‘Dog’ & ‘Cat’ the pet and animal search trends are dominated by animals in the news. The recent tragedies involving a Gorilla and Alligator run up against adorable puppies, the Grumpy Cat meme and the Mountain Dew commercial abomination – Puppy Monkey Baby. As far as marketing goes, cute animals shouldn’t be just limited to selling pet related items, successes like Budweiser’s horses and Puppy Monkey Baby prove that.
What does it mean for your business? Pet related businesses would do well to search individual product types that their selling or considering selling. Sell for both dogs and cats? Perhaps considering the popularity of dog over cat above would suggest making the dog items more prominently.
Interesting Search Trend Maps
Wrapping Up – Search Trends 2016 and Your Business
I hope you’re getting the picture, I think search trends and Google Trends specifically can be used to create content strategy for your business – and even inform some of your other strategic or marketing efforts; at least as one data point.
Tools are not everything, but utilizing them when they prove effective can allow you to pivot quickly and not get bogged down in old strategies from last year or the year before. As you can see here, there is movement in the market and the people that see the trend and tend to the anticipated growth are going to be the big winners financially.
Thank you for reading this in-depth article about Search Engine trends in 2016, and if you liked “Search Trends 2016 Interest Insights & Ways to Use Google Trends” please share it with your audiences on social media and link to it in your next resource roundup!