International SEO: Keyword Research With Google Trends

If you run multiple stores for different English-speaking countries (geo-targeted with subdomains, subfolders or top-level domains like .co.uk, .co.au, .ca etc), it’s important to pay attention to the keywords in your category names and product page titles. The terms that your countrymen (and women) use to describe your products may not be the same as the lingo abroad. And the keywords you choose to describe your categories and products have a huge impact on SEO in your international markets.

Example: “flash drive” vs. “USB drive” vs. “memory stick”

USB Trends

According to Google Trends, the term “USB drive” is most popular in US and Canada, and “memory stick” most popular in the UK.

USB Countries

Example 2: “slow cooker” vs. “crock pot” vs. “crockpot”

Crock Pot Trends

Americans love the branded term “crock pot” and are most likely to use the 2-word rather than “crockpot.” The rest of the English speaking world is more likely to call it a “slow cooker.”

Crock Pot Countries

Ideally your category labels and product page titles will be optimized to reflect the most popular search for each respective region. (Make sure you’ve geo-targeted your domains using webmaster tools). Synonyms should be included in your meta data so customers who use them can still find your products in your on-site search, and in product descriptions so you can still be found in search engines for any of the synonyms.

Another reason to use the more common term in navigation menus is users tend to scan menus with a “trigger keyword” in mind. They’re thinking “memory stick” and if they don’t find that quickly in your menu, often it’s off to the search box or off to another site.

Not only can you apply this research to on-site optimization, but also pay-per-click and email campaigns (hint, geo-segment your PPC and email campaigns).

Even if you don’t target geographic regions, you can still benefit from using Google Trends data — find out if the keywords you’re using are really the most popular of its synonyms in your region. Can’t think of synonyms? Google’s Keyword Tool can help you out. I suggest you start with your most profitable category.


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20 Responses to “International SEO: Keyword Research With Google Trends”

  1. Great article! I always wonder how accurate the Local Search Volume numbers are when talking about Google Adwords Keyword Tool External.

  2. Great post, thanks Linda.

    It’s worth also pointing out that sometimes a high search volume in one country doesn’t necessarily equate to a useful or meaningful search volume. For example, what we Brits call “braces”, Americans call “suspenders”. But what Brits call “suspenders”, Americans call “garters” (we also say garters but this is less common). And confusingly, in the UK “braces” is also a word for what Americans call “retainers” (for teeth).

    So if you check Google Insights for Search for “suspenders”, then searchers will be searching for different things in different English-speaking territories. So the lesson is, not often but sometimes you have to look beyond pure volumes at actual meanings, too.

  3. Great writeup Linda! I’ve never thought of using Google trends to try and compare country specific keywords. Granted I don’t do much outside the U.S. as far as SEO goes but it does open up the stage for future ideas.

  4. Help Desk says:

    Great point! We use different lingos worldwide, so this is a good thing that you pointed this out. We can all keep up with google trends. ;)

  5. I love the google trends.

  6. Vlad says:

    Unfortunalty I think these results are accurate only for some countries. I’m from Romania and mostly local results are not accurate. :(

  7. Mike says:

    Choosing keywords this way helps you understand the language of customers and also helps you to get the target market in a short time without spending a dime for market research and focused groups.

    Besides that, if you operate an international stores then choosing the words carefully for the localization purpose also helps your customers find your store and buy your products. It’s all the good things, people!

  8. Pixie says:

    This is good for exploring the differences in local language between the English speaking countries. There must even be differences within regions of each country too right ?

  9. Sennen says:

    I’ve just tried this out with: trainers, sneakers; excellent tool, thanks for the post.

  10. Is there something you like better in Google Trends vs. Google Insight for Search?
    http://www.google.com/insights/search/

    • They are very similar tools (Google Trends and Insight for Search), but Insights shows you a lot more information than Google Trends. You can do the same thing with Insights as described in this post and more, so if looking up geographical comparisons was all I wanted to do, Trends suffices. If I wanted to do keyword research at the same time, I’d go to Insights.

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  12. There are a couple of things I’d like to know that I don’t think were covered.

  13. I really don’t like sites like in #3, very busy and like what you said so much choices. I hope those kinds of websites can change their design and maybe do a little more organization and classification.

  14. I have been talking with my friend about this, he though it is really interesting as well.

  15. Pass through here found that you are so rich and colorful. Thank you

  16. serg says:

    Great post. Interesing information about International SEO: Keyword Research With

  17. Nicely done, however moving on to the next step in keywords.
    Does anyone now of “hot trends by country”
    Google only seem to have the hot trending terms for the usa.

    I am looking for something to do like insights but hot trends by country.

    Thanks

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