Using Google Trends to Mine Radio Topics

Google Trends can come in handy to get a quick overview of some of the hot button and/or most popular top of mind trends in your market, state or nationwide. Is this going to replace digging through the news media and just plain old paying attention to what ever the hell people are talking about around you (the best source for topics, by the way). Anyway, lets run through the basics of Google Trends.

First of all…. head over to Google Trends Explore:

The splash page will present you with a generic world view trend.

Google Trends

The first drop-down you should select is the date range. I’m going to choose 30 days, but you could choose 7 if you like, the shortest range Trends allows. However, you will see more results with 30 days selected, especially if you narrow your search down to cities as opposed to states. I’m also going to narrow down my trend criteria to select the State of Texas, News Search (as opposed to web search, just to narrow it down a bit more) and then select categories from the drop down to see the trends. And away we go….

(just for the record, the trends below are not static, they will be updated by Google in real time, so the trends I point out in the post will undoubtedly have changed from the time this has been posted until you read it. However, I believe that the underlying concepts pointed out will hold true)

I think that the “rising” trends will serve our purposes better than the “top” trends, as they often reflect a more defined and certainly more hot button trends. This isn’t always the case, so pay attention to both. The bottom line here is, Google Trends is not a magic topic finder, but it is certainly a good way to see what a the real buzz topics are in the market so you can create a killer topic, or at the very least, just know what the hell people are talking and thinking about.

So here is the generic rising searches for the state of Texas in the last 30 days. Wow. What the hell does this tell us? Well more people are trending on Reese Witherspoon, Mayweather, the draft and Jodi Arias than they are Obama, the IRS or gun control.

Let’s dig further, let’s cut that back from 30 to 7 days.

The IRS finally makes its debut, trending up 120 percent. But it’s getting pounced by Angelina Jolie’s boobiegate and powerball results. How about just Arts and Entertainment trends?

Jolie tops the list again. Let’s try something a bit meatier. This time Let’s tick News and go back to 30 days.

The Bush Library tops the list as a breakout winner. But that’s about as “hard” as the news gets. The other top trenders: gwyneth paltrow, jennifer lopez, reese witherspoon, rob kardashian, sarah palin and pakistan.

Let’s see what’s trending in that category just in Houston:

Witherspoon and Kardashian again.

Alright, let’s go for some political meat. This time the related terms return seems to be more useful that the trending.

Let’s try finance. The IRS rears its ugly head twice.

Needless to say, you can spend hours doing this. It’s not a magical formula for creating a killer radio topic (that’s done via hard work and years behind a mic), but it can be a useful tool for realizing what is truly top of mind, what’s worth spending your time researching and trends that have the widest appeal. Google Trends should be in your radio prep tool chest, even if it’s just going to be used as a reality check against spending hours prepping a lousy topic.