Google has many exciting tools that small businesses can use. Many of them – Gmail, Google Drive, Google Analytics – you’ll be familiar with already. But one, Google Trends, is a lesser-known tool that could have a significant impact on your business.

Google Trends, much like the name suggests, tracks what terms people are searching for and translates this into trends from 2004 onwards. You can refine it by time period and location, and see the relative popularity of search terms at a glance. This isn’t the place to come for exact keyword data (you’d still go to Google Adwords for that) – rather this is where you come for interesting insights into how various search terms have changed across time, or to gain a snapshot into the trends evolving within the last few hours or days.

Here’s how you can use Google Trends to validate your business.

You can get an idea of the popularity of your product

In the simplest terms, you can see how many people have been searching for products similar to yours over time, and whether the trend is an upwards one – or a declining one. More importantly, you can keep the finger on the pulse and monitor how the trend is doing in real-time.

It shows you where your product or service is most popular

As well as showing you the popularity of your product or service over time, it can show where it’s popular too. You might not be able to relocate to Russia upon learning that demand for your product is higher there, but if your business is online this could provide you with some useful – and unexpected – insights about markets you could be tapping into.

You can look at previous similar trends

Trends come and go. Google Trends allows you to take a look at crazes that swept the nation and see what their lifespan looked like. It can help you decide if there are legs in your product.

You can see the times of year most popular for your product or service

Taking a more long-term approach, Google Trends lets you see quiet and busy times of year for your product. Take ‘Wedding dresses’ (below) for example. The trend is consistent across the year, but there’s a regular and significant dip around November and December. This could provide you with insights into the best months to put some serious muscle behind your advertising and promotion, the best months to put on offers, or even the best months to cut your losses and head on holiday for a few weeks.

How to validate your business idea with Google Trends

You can look at how your competitors are doing

You can search your competitors on Google Trends and see how their brands have developed over time. This won’t work for very small companies, but it works for larger ones and the major brands that you might aspire to be like. You can see how their trajectory has developed, and even pinpoint spikes when interest in their product or service surged. Did they get a lot of media attention around that date? Or was it part of a bigger trend that gave a boost to everyone in the industry?

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