Google Trends released a new beta feature (topics) this week that points, once again, to how exactly search is changing. It’s not hard to predict that Google will continue to make changes to search in 2014 along these lines, but let’s dig into what this update does and its importance.
Not familiar with Google Trends? It’s a tool that allows searchers to see how searches are trending over time and compare two or more searched terms together. Trying to decide what keyword to tag your post with? Google Trends can help determine which is typed into their search more often. Web search is just one of the several types of searches available. If you have your heart set on finding images of your favorite actor (Benedict Cumberbatch, hello), you can also use Trends to show how search for image searches have been trending over time.
Patriots vs. New England Patriots, Football vs. American Football
Here’s what happens when we start typing “Patriots” now: the general term still comes up, but Google knows we may be talking about New England Patriots and shows that to us as an option.
Rather than forcing us to accept patriots as a general term, Trends now tries to understand what topics we want to compare. We want to see how many people are talking about the Patriots vs. the Giants, here we’re searching for “49ers”. It makes some more topical suggestions to us:
And to top it off, if we want to see what happens when we type “football”, will Google Trends know we mean American Football?
Yes, yes it does!
In the past when you searched for the word “Patriots”, Trends didn’t take into account that the search might mean “New England Patriots”. The current update changes that. The topical update is in beta, so it won’t work for all terms just yet. In other words, don’t expect to search a small company name and have it come up.
This update also means that Google is now measuring search, not only with natural language queries, but by topics. With this update, and as other updates and explanations come out of Google HQ, we start to understand that the changes to search (and in turn, SEO) aren’t meant to make life harder for those who work in search optimization. Instead, it’s meant to help searchers find what they seek more quickly by trying to anticipate what they are actually looking for.
Google Trends Topics and 2014 Content Strategy
How does this affect your content and your SEO strategy? To rank for searches, content now needs to be more relevant to topics, to queries and questions that people ask the engine. The way content should have been treated all along: informative and enlightening. Keywords are quickly becoming less and less important. Being authoritative and educational about your topic is the new ranking mechanism.
Let this guide you while creating content for the next year. What topics do you want to be known for? That should be the nexus of your 2014 content.