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Using Google Trends To Predict Future Website Performance

Can Google Trends Help Us Weather The Emotional and Financial Roller-Coaster That Is Website SEO and Adsense Earnings?

Google Trends LogoAny webmaster who's been in the game for awhile will tell you about the roller-coaster ride that web site running actually is. I'm talking about the seemingly random way that visitor numbers and Adsense earnings can change from month to month or day to day.

For the average webmaster it can be very scary to suddenly see his stats start to drop with less visitors and lower revenues.

You start to ask yourself all sorts of questions. Have I done something to incur the wrath of Google and a penalty? Has a new algorithm implementation pushed my site lower down in the serps? Has a hacker taken control of my site and is stealing my earnings? Has my site been proxy hijacked? Has all my hard work gone to waste?

Just hang around the Google Forums on webmaster world and you'll come across loads of these types of posts from panicking webmasters. Although you may have been hit by one of the above, as long as you are building a clean site with original content and your visitors as the most important thing, there may be another reason - seasonal changes. People may just not be looking for the keywords that your site is ranked on. Google trends lets us look at this, and it can do a lot to calm your nerves and help you look forward to future visitor and earnings spikes, lets look at a few examples.

Chart Showing Sat Nav Searches

This first chart shows us the volume of searches for the term "Sat Nav" in Google, right back to 2003.

As you can see the volume has increased year on year, but there are visible spikes and troughs. This term interests me because it is key-phrase that is important to this website.

Lets drill down further.

Sat Nav searches in 2006

This trends chart shows us the volume of searches for "sat nav" for the whole of 2006, and it is a little easier to read.

The amount of searches is flat until the summer, when people start using their cars to go to new destinations on holiday, so we have a slight rise until the Autumn, when there is a trough until the Christmas buying spike, so I should expect (and be ready for) a lot more traffic from November to early January, and slumps in the Spring and Autumn are nothing to be worried about.

Sat Nav searches in 2005

We're now looking at Sat Nav searches in 2005.

We have a similar spike in the summer, a slow-down in the fall, and a peak at Xmas.

Sat Nav searches in 2007

How does all this relate to how my site is doing at the time of writing, Oct 2007?

As you can see by the chart Google has had the summer peak of searches for "Sat Nav" and we are in the trough, but should expect to see an increase in visitors in the run up to Christmas...

Here we have a Google Analytics Chart of the actual unique visitors to my site from the beginning of 2007 to early October.

As you can see the profile of the chart for my visitors follows closely the profile of the number of people searching in Google for "sat Nav".

You can see the Spring lull, the Summer peak, and the beginning of the Autumn trough.

Finaly we have an interesting video looking at how to use Google Trends to identify new markets for your keywords.
Trends vs actual

Update: With 2007 well and truly over we can look back at a whole year of visitor stats for this site and the associated Trends data for one of my main keywords "Sat Nav".

As you can see my visitors roughly follow the seasonal variations expected, I had to stop my visitor report befor Xmas Day because my traffic doubled from Boxing Day, due to hitting some high positions in the Serps after a Google Algo change.


Gps vs Sat Nav Trend History

So what's next? I'll leave you with this Trends report showing the relative number of searches for "gps" (in blue) and "Sat Nav" (in red), throughout 2007.

Why the difference? "Sat Nav" is a term used mainly in the UK, while "GPS" is used in the USA and all over the world to describe In Car Navigation- my sites main theme.

Guess which key word I'll be concentrating on in 2008?


So in conclusion, if you're worried about declining statistics for your websites, don't panic. Research the most important keywords or phrases for your site then get over to Google trends and look at seasonal variations. You'll feel much better and will be able to get on with more important things - like creating more original content, or targetting new keywords and areas. Enjoy!

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