Grabbing Free Traffic by Identifying Trending Topics

Once you understand how to do basic keyword research for a campaign, it can become more of a tedious task than a challenging one. You check the Google Keyword tool, find out what’s working for your competitors, maybe use Wordtracker, etc.

But a lot of people don’t realize that traditional keyword research could be holding them back. The content and link campaigns are built around data from the past and therefore don’t consider what the future may hold.

In addition to doing traditional keyword research, you should also try to be on top of new and emerging trends. If you do, you could jump light-years ahead of your competitors.

Emerging trends are not likely to turn up among the historical data that figure into traditional keyword research. Your competitors who stick to traditional keyword research won’t even know about them, while you’ve got a chance to capitalize on them.

New trends could include new products, new services, new tools, new industry terms, new laws that are under legislative consideration, and more. If you’re proactive and keep your virtual ear to the ground for these sorts of things, you could enjoy a boom in organic search traffic before your competitors even know what’s going on.

But how can you identify emerging trends in your industry? One of the best ways is through Twitter.

Monitor News with Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a site that helps you find and follow the important people in your industry. Go to the site and sign in with your Twitter account.

Screenshot of Followerwonk home page


After you’ve signed in, it will ask you to provide an email address; you will have the options of tweeting about checking out Followerwonk and whether to follow Followerwonk on Twitter. Do whatever you prefer, then click the top left tab that says “Search Twitter Bios.”


Searching for important users on FollowerwonkNow you should see a search box. You want to locate influencers and leading people in your industry. You also want to keep up with the news in your industry. You can start by simply typing in the name of your industry and news.

For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you might type in “food service news.” You might also search for “culinary trends.”

Follow all the big names and anyone/business/site you think is important in your industry. (You will have to open each user in a new window unless you sign up for SEOMoz Pro, in which case you do it within the app on Followerwonk.)

What you’re doing here is simply building a source of data to feed you information and ideas to keep track of . . . and, at times, to investigate further. A list of Twitter users relevant to your search term will show up on the page.

IMPORTANT: Click on the little cogwheel at the top right of your Twitter screen and go to your settings page. Go to “Email Notifications” on the left. Make sure you check the “Email me with top Tweets and stories” under the “Activity from Your Network” heading about halfway down the page. You can choose daily or weekly.

Now that you’ve compiled a healthy list of influencers you intend to follow, Twitter will send you emails about the topics and articles they will be tweeting about in the coming months. The most popular topics will appear at the top.

This means you won’t have to log in to Twitter and search constantly on your own, and you don’t need expensive software simply to find out what’s the latest hot topic of discussion in your industry. You’ll get an easy-to-use email that outlines it all for you.

If you want to make it even easier for yourself, create a new email and Twitter account. That way, you can log into that email every few days and voila: Everything’s right there and not mixed in with your regular, day-to-day email.

Digging Deeper with Google Trends

When you identify a potential trend, head to Google Trends. Here you have an opportunity to identify related keywords, or keywords that are actually trending faster than the ones you have. Take a look at this example for “bacon desserts” …

Researching trends with Google Trends

You can see that at the beginning of 2009, people suddenly were searching for this term. And searches grew steadily until the summer of 2012. If you had been in the food industry and had caught this in 2009, you would have been way ahead of the curve.

But let’s move on.

1. On the left, you see several buttons. With the “Web Search,” you can look at data for certain types of searches like image search, news search, and product search. You can narrow it down to a state or metro area to view the popularity of the keyword or phrase in your region.

2. On the bottom right, you can see that “desserts with bacon” was the highest search term related to “bacon desserts.” “Bacon in desserts” achieved only about half the search volume.

3. If you fold those into your search by adding them on the top left (click Add Term), the graph lets you compare them all at once.

4. You can look at the forecast by ticking this box. But remember, this just takes historical data and gives an estimate. If this is something brand-new, there probably won’t be any data for it. If it’s something seasonal, however, then it might.

You can also tick the news box if it’s available (this particular term didn’t turn up any news stories associated with it).

Be Consistent

If you put this into practice and become a first mover for a new trend in your industry, you’ll enjoy several benefits. Of course, you’ll receive traffic for that keyword before anyone else, which is always good.

But even better, you will likely be referenced as a source of information when others finally start to pick up on the trend — and they’ll probably link to you. This should help you attain some solid rankings for the term, too.


Once you’ve found an emerging trend and banked on it, you’ll no doubt be pleased.

But don’t stop! The key is to monitor your industry on a consistent basis and make yourself a constant pathfinder on emerging trends. Develop a smart content strategy to build upon that, and soon you’ll become a go-to source in your industry and enjoy consistent traffic to your site.

Image Credit: Shutterstock Creativa

One Comment

Timothy Carter

That’s a fantastic tip Jayson…I’ve used it in the past for clients, but have never really shared the detail for the general public to take advantage of. I believe many people will find that trends can be a value way to position themselves as experts within a community with speed of “real time” engagement.

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