Let’s face it: Google Keyword Planner search volume is flawed.
- compromised by rank trackers that crawl the search results and inflate it
- not very accurate in the first place, and when you don’t pay for Google Ads, the ranges are way too broad
- it combines related keywords and accumulates their search volume
- only updated monthly
There are probably even more limitations that I haven’t listed and yet, we still rely on search volume for too many decisions.
Let me introduce some alternatives.
Pinterest recently published its own version of Google Trends. It was only available in the US until recently and now also offers data for Canada and the U.K.
The data seems very much on par with Google Trends and is also normalized to a scale of 0 to 100.
The limitation is that you’d find more and better data for topics that Pinterest is mainly used for: health, food, fashion, inspiration, quotes, etc.
For general inspiration, take a look at the top 100 Trends on Pinterest (similar to the Google homepage).
When search volume is not an option, you can look at how much traffic the top results get. What I like about Growth Bar extension is that it shows you the traffic of ranking URLs right in the search results, but you can also use the web app to see how much traffic each URL gets.
Just like Pinterest, eBay launched its own version of a product exploration platform. Where Pinterest Trends shines for health and adjacent topics, eBay explore is great for e-commerce-related data.
The platform provides data for the US, Australia, UK, and Germany. eBay gives you the actual number of searches but limits the time range to the last 7 days or less.
Besides that, eBay also gives you an idea of how much a product is worth.
Of course, I have to mention Google Trends, which gained a lot of popularity during the COVID-19 crisis when consumer demand shifted quickly and search volume data wasn’t available fast enough.
I find a lot of value in the often-overlooked data from Image, News, and Youtube Search. Even though the data is normalized on a relative scale, comparison is still very powerful. In the worst case, use another rank tracker tool to get the search volume for a keyword and then extrapolate to the trend.
On top of that, use the maps feature if geo areas are important to you in the slightest way. It contains a lot of interesting information that’s otherwise hard to get.
And then, of course, related queries can really help you in keyword research (just not at scale).
One of the most annoying things about Google Trends is that the data is difficult to export or measure at scale.
Why not look at social data? I think demand can be measured very well on social networks, as long as the product is talked about in any way. That might exclude “boring” products but give us another source of data points to expand market research.
Not only do I find the related hashtags very insightful, but also the popularity trend over time.
Hashtagify comes with tons of valuable information, even with just a free account.
Treendly combines data from Google Trends, News, Twitter, Youtube, and Amazon.
It gives you historical trends (relative), forecasts, and related searches.
Especially for keyword research, those come in handy.
Then there are also forum discussions, which I can see helpful from many perspectives:
- a better understanding of the topic
- link building
- customer engagement
Exploding topics was bought by Brian Dean from Backlinko back when it was still called Trennds.
The data is very helpful, though it’s not clear what all the data sources are Exploding Topics uses. I compared the searches/mo (see screenshot below) and found that it seems to be Keyword Planner search volume. However, the trends data is not just a pull from Google Trends. There seem to be several sources at play.
Exploding Topics also provides you with the rate of monthly growth and exponential growth, which can be very helpful to access how quickly a topic is growing.
Glimpse provides search trends similarly to Treendly or Exploding Topics, but separates them into companies, products, and industries. I find that approach very interesting because it can help you focus your research on the area you want to explore.
A free account will get you 2 monthly trends per month into your inbox but for everything else, you have to pay. There is no search feature for unregistered users or free accounts, but the data seems to be measured in absolute numbers instead of relative ones. I haven’t tried the paid account out but registered for a free one and enjoy the trends so far.
The data comes from several sites: apparently Youtube, Reddit, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and others.