Data-Backed Instincts: How Google Trends Can Elevate Your Search Strategy

Adopt a forward-thinking SEO mindset during breaking news events

As every type of industry imaginable re-evaluates their positioning in what's been dubbed "the new normal" since the outbreak of COVID-19, communication has never been more critical.

But like every aspect of life, the global crisis has turned the world of marketing, branding, and content creation upside down. More people than ever are not just socializing online, but living online, and this means the nature of search — the number one way humans get their information on the web — has completely changed, too.

Publishers are looking for ways to upgrade their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to survive. In fact, Search Engine Journal analyzed data from Google Trends and found that the search term "SEO" and related queries spiked dramatically in the United States beginning in February 2020.


So as publishers everywhere readjust their search strategy during the new normal, it's good practice to get used to how organic SEO works in breaking news situations, and how this differs from an evergreen search strategy. Just like Search Engine Journal, using Google Trends can be a tactical way to identify trending search queries before they peak and become too competitive to win. Crafting content around this information early can help your site leapfrog ahead of your competitors.

Breaking News: Identify Trending Phrases Before They Happen

Google Trends is a free tool that allows you to analyze the volume of search queries over time from everywhere in the world. This can be particularly useful in breaking news situations, such as extended events like the COVID-19 crisis.

When a new event happens like a global pandemic, it's nearly impossible to stay ahead of trending search phrases, because by the time you identify what they are, it's likely too late. For example, the search phrase "What is COVID-19?" became a highly competitive search query in what seems like an instant, and Google's search results for it were quickly dominated by professional health organizations and top news publishers from the start. In fact, Google has its own interface for this very question. This is the nature of search during breaking news events.

Still, there are ways you can make a mark in a competitive search landscape. It takes a mix of forward-thinking and intuition.

To illustrate this, let's use a fun example outside of COVID-19. Imagine Katy Perry and Beyoncé have announced that they're now a couple, despite never really crossing paths in pop culture before. If you're an entertainment reporter and you hear about this news first, you know it will soon be widely searched for the world over. An early post about their new romance will win the search phrase "Katy Perry Beyoncé" overnight, resulting in millions of pageviews on day one.

While the news of Katy Perry and Beyoncé's courtship is a very quick and obvious win, the same logic can be used for any news or trending topic. Let's look at the ways this strategy could be used during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Search terms about the virus are still competitive, but by using Google Trends, we can identify other ways people are searching for COVID-19 information and readjust our search strategy accordingly. For example, Google Trends shows all of the different ways people are spelling the virus in search:

According to the data, "Coronavirus" is the most popular search term, but "covid" is picking up steam. This means it could be a strategic choice to start targeting the word "COVID" in your search strategy to get ahead of the trend.

Aside from language variations, it's also smart to pay close attention to new subtopics related to the crisis that emerge to identify the next obvious search trend before it gains traction.

A good example of this is when the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, appeared in the spotlight as a popular fixture of the U.S.'s virus briefings. An editor who recognized the doctor's appeal could've created content around the term "COVID Fauci" before his fame really took off.

According to Google Trends, if you were savvy enough to do this before February 15, you would have won a massive search phrase that nobody else predicted.

If you're a publisher focusing on COVID-19, keep this strategy in mind as new details and elements emerge as the world continues to react to the virus.

Try to think logically about what terms people will search for next (e.g., COVID + New Topic). Here are some examples:

  • COVID + Plasthemerene
  • COVID + Columbia Hospital
  • COVID + Treatments

It may seem like the search landscape around competitive topics like COVID-19 is too saturated to infiltrate. But, keeping a fingerprint on the latest news and cross-referencing your intuitions with data from Google Trends could help you make meaningful strides on search during this uncertain period.

Evergreen SEO: Identify Natural Evergreen Search Cycles

Breaking news events like the COVID-19 crisis are different from an evergreen search strategy because they're always evolving and growing new areas of focus, just like the aforementioned Dr. Fauci example. Evergreen search terms that have existed and been understood for decades are a bit more predictable and often see consistent search traffic.

However, you can use Google Trends to identify trending topics that have their own natural lifecycle every year. For example, the search phrase "instant pot recipes" always spikes in late December when many people are given an Instant Pot during the holidays. It also spikes again in July when Instant Pots are usually a popular item on Amazon Prime Day.

Gaining an understanding of these kinds of content lifecycles can help propel your content strategy all year long — not just during extended news events.

Stay on Top of Daily Search Trends

Aside from anticipating search phrases that are on the cusp of trending, you can also use Google Trends to see what keywords are already high performing.

After you access trends.google.com, click the hamburger menu (☰) in the top-left corner and select Trending Searches.

From there, you can see Google's top search phrases organized by date:

Scanning these phrases and identifying any content you either already have published or plan to create is a great way to take advantage of a hot topic. If you're publishing on RebelMouse, make sure that the phrase listed in Trending Searches matches what you've selected in the Search Phrases You Want to Win field of Entry Editor's SEO tab.

Using trending phrases with our proprietary search technology can fuel your article's ranking. Google's crawler will reward relevant, quality content around a topic that has a surge of interest. Leveraging these hot phrases could be the perfectly timed boost your SEO strategy needs.

Begin a Forward-Thinking Search Strategy

At RebelMouse, we have a unique approach to SEO that puts power back into the hands of content creators. As illustrated above, content creators are the people who live the closest to breaking news events, and can easily identify trends before they happen.

Our proprietary search technology that can help you win search phrases with every article you publish. Whether it's a competitive search term or an evergreen topic, we can improve your Google rankings. Even if you're not on our platform, we can provide you with an audit of your current search strategy, and help you use tools like Google Trends to move the needle on your search traffic. Request a proposal today to get started.

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Premium Creative Agencies and CTOs Choose to Develop on RebelMouse vs. WordPress and Drupal

The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.

Keep reading... Show less

Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

What Differentiates Our Approach

There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.

Keep reading... Show less

Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it's filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to understand your audience and provide them with what they want.

Keep reading... Show less

Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

Revolutionizing E-commerce on RebelMouse

Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.

Keep reading... Show less

Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Keep reading... Show less

Dynamic Voting: Grow Traffic and Engagement Organically

Help your audience find its voice.

Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.

Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?

Keep reading... Show less

How COVID-19 Has Changed Four Key Components of Marketing

Picking up the pieces and the importance of building trust in a pandemic

As the second half of 2020 begins to pass us by, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on throughout the global community. The longevity of the pandemic has left thousands of industries struggling to find an appropriate position in the marketplace that will allow them to sustain themselves alongside daily tragedy.

The pandemic is far from over, but publishers and marketers are beginning to sift through the aftershocks of what COVID-19 has done to the web. Here's a quick look at the decline in conversion growth during the first few weeks of the pandemic in the United States:

Keep reading... Show less

Explore Careers at RebelMouse

Join RebelMouses's modern and distributive workforce responsible for the websites of media powerhouses, including legacy brands like United Airlines and new media darlings like PAPER Magazine and Protocol.

If you feel like you've never quite fit into boxes or labels within the tech space, we want to hear from you. Built on a foundation of site performance, our cloud-based platform reaches 50+ million people a month with an always-modern approach to product and strategy.

Our fully remote team spans 25+ countries and has very flexible schedules. If you don't want to be confined to an office chair, and like the idea of being able to work from any place in the world you choose, we're a match.

RebelMouse is dedicated to pursuing inclusion for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, age, or disability. We work hard to form meaningful relationships beyond our platform, and it's this passion that has formed what is now a diverse software company and creative agency that's bucking industry norms. For us, diversity is a company pillar, not just a statistic.

Click here to browse our current opportunities
Subscribe to Our Newsletter