In order to effectively plan for the future, most businesses typically rely on historical data. For example, in normal times, cruise lines know to plan for extremely high activity in the “peak season” from July to August, while expecting fewer customers in December. Pubs and nightclubs could consistently estimate the amount of traffic and sales they’d make each weekend, allowing them to accurately plan for paying rent, payroll, taxes, and all other expenses.
In the same way that historical data enables “in-store traffic” projections for brick & mortar companies, effective online businesses use historical site data to project “site traffic” with tools like Google Analytics.
However, recent events have practically destroyed the usefulness of historical data. Whether you’ve been in business for 5 years or 50, you can no longer use that historical data to figure out the metrics you need to stay afloat.
With traditional assumptions about consumer behavior being thrown out the window due to protests, lockdowns, a recession, and a pandemic, one source of data remains key: Real-time data.
To create effective projections now, you need solid, real-time data. You can forget about what your customers were doing a year ago, but with insight into current search trends, you can see what they’re interested in now.
A dashboard by the NY-based analytics firm Apteo collects a number of interesting Google Search trends, showing, among other phenomena, a recent spike in search phrases like “gun shop,” “bread machines,” “disposable gloves,” and “fitness equipment.”
Other search phrases, like “toilet paper,” had a boom and a bust in popularity, briefly becoming viral search phrases before returning to normal.
Of course, you should collect whatever trends are most relevant to your business, keeping them in a dashboard to stay informed.
Why Search Trends Are More Important Now Than Ever
Google Trends has been around for a long, long time, but now is when this data truly shines. If you’re reading about a certain business trend in the news, that means you’re late to the game. Search trends are the first indicator of where consumer sentiment is heading, and by keeping an eye on the phrases most applicable to your business, you can stay ahead of the curve.
Of course, there will eventually be a “return to normal,” which means that it’s still a valuable exercise to have the systems in place to collect and store high-quality user data. Historical data will return to its former glory once things have stabilized, but for now, search trends are gold for businesses that know how to use them.
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