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What were the top trends in Google searches for tourism destinations in 2018?
20 December 2018
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As Wikipedia describes Google Trends in a nutshell:

"Google Trends is a website by Google that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages. The website uses graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time."

Sounds like a simple - even obvious - concept. But once you get under the hood, Google Trends offers plenty of practical applications and actionable data for marketers.

To get started with Google Trends, go here and you'll find a page with this header:

To proceed, I entered "tourism" on the left, and started a search.

Google Trends let me select options for 4 basic search criteria, for each of which Google Trends offers many options: Location, Time Period, a more specific Search Term, and Type of Search: web, image, news, shopping or YouTube.

For my purposes, I set these as web searches for tourist destinations done in the past 12 months in the USA, like this:

Google Trends then displayed its top-level results based on my criteria. First, a plot of Interest over Time for the past 12 months:

Each data point represents one week. Notice that the vertical scale is 0-100. That's because the plot is showing for each week the degree of interest relative to the week with the largest number of relevant searches - in this case the week of 6-12 May 2018 - to which Google Trends has assigned the interest rank of 100.

In the live view of this plot, you can read the interest rank of any week by mousing over it. And you can also download a CSV file of each week's interest rank by clicking on the download arrow at top right.

Next, below that Google Trends provides information on Interest by Subregion: in this case, because I picked USA as geo select, the system shows interest ranks by states. Note that this rank is based on tourism query share of total queries and not on absolute number of tourism queries, so it indicates relative popularity of tourism queries in the overall scheme of things for that state. On the map, states with higher interest ranks appear in deeper shades of blue. For some reason, tourism has been a hot topic in Google web search in Hawaii in 2018, so Hawaii is ranked 100 and all other states' ranks are relative to that.

Once again, you can download a CSV file with all the data. From that, here are the top states for tourism interest, (ranked 40 and up):

Next, Google Trends displays information on Related Topics:

Topics included here are those of most interest, and those of fastest-growing interest. When a search item has Breakout or a hamburger-style menu link beside it, you can click that to get a whole new set of plots and data specific to that item.

Because the data this section are based on things and not on query language, the CSV download file is named "relatedEntities". The file includes both TOP (most popular) and RISING (fastest growing in popularity) items. The one I got looks like this, after being trimmed down to top-10 items:

Next, Google Trends displays Related Queries:

These items differ from Related Topics or Entities by being query language - actual search terms put into Google by users. Here's the CSV file I got from this section (again both TOP and RISING, trimmed down to the top-10):

Consider all the stuff we've learned:

  • Relative popularity of Google searches for tourist destinations in every week for 12 months
  • Level of interest in tourism destinations for people in every US state plus DC
  • Most-searched tourism-related topics/entities - countries, states, counties, DMOs, guidebooks, etc.
  • Search terms most used by Americans in doing searches for tourism destinations

And consider the actionability of those items. We know:

  • The relative reach our search ads will have, by week
  • The hottest geographic tourism markets reachable by search
  • Our most important competitors, both existing and emerging
  • Search terms in actual use, which we can use as keywords in both Google Ads and ad and website copy.

And not only that: but we can slice and dice these data to our heart's content: look at one market, one product, one phrase of copy in isolation or in the context of our choice.

And everything integrates with Google Ads and Google Analytics.

And all it costs us is time.


(No, Google isn't paying me to plug their products. I just like them.)

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David Boggs MS    - David
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