Google Trends: First Math, then Reality - Montana Webmaster

Google Trends: First Math, then Reality

The Value of Measuring and Testing

When a business is in the marathon of designing and creating a website, it feels like setting up, learning about, and using measuring tools is this waste-of-time sidetrack. But, measuring the effectiveness of each time expensive task helps you put future efforts in the right direction. Why is as important as how. Which is why it is also helpful to learn what those measurements mean. Google Trends is a tool that helps you choose words that will be most effective at reaching your audience through the search engines.

Which Word Is Better for SEO?

Screenshot from Google Trends online tool.This using the math of comparison. In grade school, we called it greater than and lesser than.

Let’s say that your site is in the writing / literary / journalism / publication world. I have clients in several of these. Your navigation (links) is an important part in both SEO and in making your site easy to use for your viewers. Should you use the word blog, or articles, or stories as the link text in your navigation bar?

If you are writing cookbooks, none of the words blog, articles or stories communicates well. In this case “Recipes” or “Cooking Tips” might communicate better, unless you write food articles for a publication. But in the first scenario, if you are trying to decide on Articles vs. Stories, specifically, you might take a look at Google Trends to help you make the final decision.

What Does Google Trends Do?

Not only does Google provide search results, it also collects information about how the people doing the searches behave. In this case, it’s just counting the words people search on, simple math, but very helpful.

What Google Trends shows a comparison of what words people actually used in searches. It doesn’t measure their intent for the search. And, it doesn’t tell you how many searches there are for either word. What it does is take the total of the searches for both words, and demonstrates where they sit in that total.
Besides giving you a general comparison, Google Trends allows you to refine the comparison by time, general market and geographic area. Although the choices in the Categories dropdown are fairly generic, it allows you to enter your own topic.

For my experimentation, I found that even when I entered a specific industry, like Forestry, the word “story” was more used than the word “article” in searches. But, in this case, the functions that are further down the pages don’t have enough data to show.

Understanding your Content and your Market

Screenshot of Google TrendsEven armed with these stats, it’s important that the word you choose matches the meaning of your content. What that means is that choosing the word that is used the most isn’t helpful if it isn’t relevant. That is why “stories” isn’t a good choice for a recipe site, unless the site has stories about cooking. In that case, Cooking Stories might be a better term.

Long and Short Versions of your Keywords

After you have the base words you want to use, the next consideration is how you are using them in various locations on your site. The title of each page is longer than each link in your main navigation areas. So, the navigation should focus on the base word, but each page title should add more context to that word.

The main navigation on this site is a good example of the puzzle in length of navigation text. Home, UX/UI and About are a good length for horizontal navigation. Home and About are ubiquitous, but, do people actually know what UX/UI means? If my market were web developers, the answer would be “Yes”. But, my market isn’t web developers. They already know the topics I write about.

Screenshot of main navigation on
There are many factors to consider in chosing the words for your main navigation.

The real question is whether people who own and work for small organization know what UX/UI means, or, should I find new link text? I looked up synonyms for UX and found this list. And, it just took me back to the “too long” category.

  1. The main consideration is always “will my market correctly understand the words I use?”
  2. There is a limited amount of vertical space for the main navigation. Rollover menus can help.
  3. Terms like UX/UI are understood in the industry, but my site is for people who need to learn basic principle, not industry professionals.

Tip: Including your Kid in your Business Measuring

After you get some practice using tools like Google Trends, you can support your child’s schooling and teacher by showing how you use this tool and why it’s important to your work. If they see that it is important to you too, they will have a better understanding of the place of charts in overall life.

Children start seeing charts in school in first and second grade. At that age, pointing out that story is blue and article is red, and asking them which one is higher may be as much as they understand. In later grades, “part of a whole” is a great concept that can be related back to aspects of their life, such as charting sports scores or how much of a grade is dependent on different activities.

Besides the math concepts of charting and comparison, it may help your child learn the skill of choosing words in their writing.



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