Google offers up such a wide array of amazing tools and applications that some of their coolest items sometimes can be overlooked. One of my favorite tools, that I don’t use often enough, is Google Trends. What this tools does is allow you to see what Google’s users are searching for over time and by region. What does that mean, well, I want to see when searches for “Ski Vacation” start to trend up – I search and this nice chart comes up:

Ski Resort Search Trend Chart

Pretty slick eh, and it shows how the fourth and first quarter of the year look like ski jumps up and down to a point just before the end of the calendar year. Another neat component to this chart is the smaller graph on the bottom showing news reference volume – how often “ski vacation” appeared in news stories indexed by Google. It doesn’t show the trend I would expect of stories appearing slightly before the ski season.

Another nifty function is the ability to compare multiple terms (separate them using commas in the search box) at the same time. I decided to compare a couple of Vermont resorts over the past year and got these results:

Scale is based on the average traffic of stowe from United States in the last 12 months.
stowe 1.00, killington 0.50, sugarbush 0.18, okemo 0.25

Vermont Resort Trend Comparison

I think this chart shows both the positive and shortcomings of this service. First, isn’t it awesome how you can compare brand specific keyword searches on the biggest search engine? On the other hand, simple comparisons like this can expose issues, like how I’ve managed to capture a bunch of town of Stowe related searches in this comparison, while the others are more centric to resorts. This isn’t something that can’t be overcome, but you need to be cognizant of other potential reasons people might be searching for our terms before reading too much into results.

One last really useful trick to use with Google Trends is to switch from comparing searches to comparing websites, this is a bit more difficult in the ski resort business as there aren’t many resort website with enough traffic to appear consistently in these results, but I highly recommend keeping this as well as the other trend related searches in your bag of tricks