Topic

Improving your Trends results

Topic Progress:

Click on the numbered tabs to navigate this lesson.

Moving beyond the basics

This lesson has been adapted from Google News Lab and is reproduced with permission.

Google Trends allows you to easily see the stories and subjects that are drawing attention. Exploring topics is a relatively simple process, and Trends includes some features and options to help refine your results. There are several ways to get the precise data you need to help prompt a story idea or support a point.

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • How to use search operators in Google Trends

Refining your search using punctuation

You can use punctuation to filter your Trends search results.

For example, if you’re writing a story about alternative energy and search the term wind farm, with no punctuation, your results will contain both words in any order, along with other words (offshore wind farm, new methods to farm wind, wind saves the farm, etc). No misspellings, spelling variations, synonyms, plural or singular versions of your terms will be included.

Punctuation guide

Here’s how various punctuation can affect this search.

Double quotation marks around your term give results that include that exact term, possibly with words before and after (offshore wind farm, for example).

“Wind Farm”

Using the plus symbol

If you include a plus symbol, results can include either of the words in the search.

“Wind + Solar”

Using the minus symbol

If you include a minus symbol, results will include the word wind, but exclude the word farm. This is useful when searching a term that’s part of a popular phrase you want to keep from dominating your results.

“Wind – Farm”

Using multiple symbols

You can improve search results by including strings of operator symbols, for example to include alternative spellings (fueling or fuelling) plus common misspellings (fueleing).

fueling + fuelling + fueleing

Refining your search by meaning

If you’re using Trends to search for a word with multiple meanings, you can filter your results by category to get data for the version you’re looking for.

Just search for your term, and on the results page click the All categories button under the search box to reveal your category choices. Choose a category most closely related to the meaning you prefer.

The results will reflect the number of searches for that term in that context.

Narrowing or expanding each search topic by geography and time

On the results page next to each inputted topic, use the options button to refine your exploration further by region and/or time period for each individual search topic.

For example, if you compare search interest in Wave power and Solar power, you’ll find that Solar power typically outpaces the Wave power for worldwide search interest. When you change the individual filters to examine local interest by selecting Lisbon for Wave power and California for Solar power, the data reveals levels are closer than they are worldwide.

Add meaning to your search

If you’re using Trends to search for a word with multiple meanings, you can filter your results by category to get data for the version you’re looking for.

Just search for your term, and on the results page click the All categories button under the search box to reveal your category choices. Choose a category most closely related to the meaning you prefer.

The results will reflect the number of searches for that term in that context.

Using rising data

Click the Rising tabs to see terms that were searched for with the term you entered (or overall, if no search term was entered) which had the most significant growth in volume in the requested time period. For each rising search term, you’ll see a percentage of the term’s growth compared to the previous time period. If you see the term, “Breakout,” it means that the search term did not exist in the previous time period, and we have no baseline.

The percentages are based on the percent increase in search interest for the selected time frame. Using our wind farm example, if we’re looking at the last 7 days, the benchmark for the rise in searches for the term wind farm would be 7 days prior; if it was the last 30 days, the benchmark would be for the 30 days prior. The only exception is when viewing the full history (2004-Present), when the percentages are benchmarked at 2004.

Finding related queries

When you search for a term, the Related queries chart will appear at the bottom of your results page. Related queries can be used to determine the top and rising terms associated to any topic or trending story. This can be useful for finding unique angles on a story, for example.

On the chart, the Top tab displays terms that are most frequently searched with the term you entered, in the same search session, with the same chosen category, country or region. If you didn’t choose a search term (and just chose a category or region), overall searches are displayed.

Viewing additional results

To see more results than what’s visible on the page, click the menu icon in the top right of the page. Then click Download CSV file.

Open the CSV file using a spreadsheet application like Google Sheets, and you’ll be able to view an expanded list of results, which you can use for your analysis.

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Let's Review: Trends 3