How to Get Data from Google Trends
By Aaron Parson
Google Trends provides a way to research the popularity of terms used by other people on Google's search engine. Though it doesn't provide raw numbers of searches performed, Trends shows relative interest over time and by country or city. The Trends home page lists topics currently receiving heavy search traffic as well as charts and comparisons picked out by Google. To start your own research, enter your first search term in the search bar on Trends.
Visit the Google Trends website (link in Resources) and sign in with a Google account. You don't need an account to look at data on Google Trends, but you must log in if you want to download the data.
Enter a search term into Trends. As you type, Trends offers suggested terms. Click one or finish typing and press "Enter" to see the term's relative popularity over time, interest by region and related searches. To extend the interest into the future, check the "Forecast" box.
Click "Add Term" to enter additional search terms. This feature compares the relative popularity of the terms over time and allows you to switch between the terms in the regional and related search sections.
Narrow the search results if necessary by using the drop-down menus above the charts. You can restrict results to a particular region, time frame, type of Google search -- such as Web Search or Image Search -- or category. Using categories helps clarify cases in which the same word has different uses in different contexts.
Click the gear icon and pick "Download as CSV" to save the data on the current search as a comma-separated value file. This file works with any spreadsheet program, including Excel or the spreadsheet viewer on Google Drive.
- Rather than comparing several search terms, you can compare one term over different regions or time periods by selecting "Locations" or "Time Ranges" on the left-hand menu. Enter a single term and then click "Add Location" or "Add Time Range" to add up to five places or times for comparison.
- With "News Headlines" checked, move the mouse cursor over the letters on the interest over time chart to see relevant headlines. These headlines can give clues as to why particular terms rise in popularity, but are not always directly related.
- All data that appears on Google Trends is relative data, such as trending interest over time and varying interest between two search terms. Google Trends does not display absolute search numbers. Google also normalizes data to prevent regions with more total searches from always appearing on the top.
- Trends only includes data for popular search terms, so obscure terms may not turn up any results or may not offer forecasts. Regardless of popularity, forecasts only work on Web Search trends, and not for trends on Image Search or other types of searches.
Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.