Brexit or no Brexit, the UK business landscape is more crowded than ever. Nearly 6 million small businesses are operating in the country today. The city of London has an especially high concentration of these businesses, too, so if you’re operating here, you’re even more likely to feel the heat of competition.
Despite Britain’s official split from the European Union last winter, London still maintains a strong status as a springboard for regional expansion. Indeed, many companies seeking to conquer Europe from the Americas and Asia will open their first European offices in London, with the idea that operations will spread from here.
Whether your business is struggling to find a viable niche amid the local competition or has always had its sites on diverse markets, successful overseas expansion is an inevitable key to continued growth.
However, expanding into new markets is always challenging — especially overseas. Cultural differences can be enormous even over a small divide, much less across an ocean. These differences mean that the marketing and growth tactics you used to establish your business may need some tweaking to work in new markets.
Search trends can be highly indicative of the subjects capturing the attention of people in an area. As such, they’re one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to planning an overseas expansion.
Google Trends is a free tool from the search giant itself that enables you to easily browse trending keywords and search terms in nearly any area, over nearly any time period. This makes it an amazingly useful part of the smart marketer’s toolkit. Simply enter your search terms or topics to find detailed trends and analytics on almost anything.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways you can utilize Google Trends to kickstart your overseas expansion. Let’s dig in.
Discover current trends in an area
As you explore new markets and regions to expand your business, knowing what’s currently trending and popular is critical. Are people searching for products and services similar to yours? Have they been doing so for a long time, or is it a recent phenomenon? How quickly is the search volume (and thus interest) growing?
These are the types of questions that Google Trends excels at answering. You can quickly pull up trending searches and keywords for a region and get a feel for the popularity of queries relevant to your product or brand.
This also comes in handy when you’re planning your content strategy for the new market. You may check trends in a new market and find that your usual keywords simply aren’t popular there. Knowing this in advance means you can pivot and find a different angle of attack.
Find the most popular searches
Perhaps the most obvious use for the tool is to pull up the most searched words on Google across a given time frame and geographic area. This can give insight into blog post topics and other content ideas for a region that UK-based businesses might not be aware of due to cultural differences.
Keep in mind, though, that Google Trends displays search volume as a relative figure rather than as absolute numbers. This means it’s useful regardless of the sample size — even small markets can provide usable information.
Another use for popular searches might be to learn about specific products that are hot in an area. Let’s say you own an office supply chain. If this is the case, then popular searches for particular brands in a new market can be used to help determine which products to stock. There are endless possible uses for popular search trends — you’re limited only by your imagination here.
Separate actual trends from short-term fads
As you’re checking out current trends and popular searches for potential new markets, you may see large spikes or dips in search volume for certain terms. Using long-range views on Google Trends, it’s possible to see whether these are ongoing trends, seasonal cycles, or simply a new fad that may or may not continue.
That information can be invaluable when deciding if a market is truly showing interest in a topic or product. If search volume has been trending up for a significant length of time, it could indicate a potential interest. These types of details can easily be viewed by widening the date range in Google Trends.
This is also useful for picking out seasonal trends. If a term spikes every year in the summer in a given country, it might be worth exploring as a seasonal offering, for example. This is useful because you may not be aware of these types of trends in foreign countries.
Gain valuable competitor insights
Finally, it’s possible to do a bit of competitive analysis using Google Trends. By entering the name of the competitor in the Topic box, you can see related search terms that might be relevant to your business.
For example, if you notice that there’s a high volume of searches around issues with a competing product, you might choose to highlight how your product avoids those issues. You might also discover that people are searching for the exact differentiator that your brand offers, indicating that it could be a good time to explore that market further. And, of course, you might find that there’s just not much interest at all.
Lastly, you can use the Google Trends data as a simple barometer for how much demand or interest people have for your competition in an area, or to identify potential competitors that you might not have been aware of.
Know your market
Any business growth is a challenge, but expanding overseas offers unique difficulties stemming from culture shock. Fortunately, getting to know a new market is easier than ever.
Google Trends is a powerful tool for gaining market insights — especially when you don’t know the market yet. By leveraging this tool and the insights gained from it, your business can enter the market one step ahead of the competition.