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How to Use Google Trends for Identifying the Hottest Trends in Accounting
If you aren’t already familiar with it, Google Trends is a free site where you can view and analyze the relative popularity of various search terms on Google and YouTube. It’s a useful tool that accounting, bookkeeping, and tax professionals can employ to find profitable niche markets and stay on top of their competition.
Google Trends tells you which terms are trending, suggests related topics or queries, and even allows you to compare certain trends with each other. By using these features, you can make informed decisions that will help you secure your dream clients. If a search term is trending, businesses associated with it are also likely to be growing, making them ideal, high-value clients.
So, how do you use Google Trends? We’ll go over everything in detail, from how to identify the hottest trends in accounting to how you can effectively capitalize on them, and even how to break down what the data means to you.
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1. Check the Popularity of a Trend
Let’s say you’ve decided that Food & Beverage companies will be the primary niche for your accounting firm. And, suppose you found a potential client that primarily sells rainbow bagels. To find out if this business could be your dream client, search rainbow bagels in Google Trends.
Google Trends will produce a graph showing interest over time for various search terms, like rainbow bagels, and topics. Just set the period of time & geographical location, and it will show you how popular a niche, product, or service is today as compared to before.
For the last 12 months, the term rainbow bagels hasn’t been trending consistently, but it has been on the rise lately. You might think this is understandable and expected, considering the ongoing pandemic but it’s important to dive a little deeper and get the full picture. Now, let’s select a longer time period and see if that makes a difference and gives us a better idea of how this term is trending.
As you can see, over the past 5 years the search popularity of rainbow bagels has been on a steady decline. This tells us that businesses that made their money primarily off this fanciful product probably are trending downwards as well. It also shows us that the downward trend we were seeing before was not caused by the pandemic but simply a lack of interest. This is exactly the type of shrinking niche market that you should avoid. With this type of information, you will be less likely to regret turning down a client for your accounting firm.
2. Find Developing Trends in Accounting
Google Trends also has another amazing feature called Trending Searches that can show you both Daily Search Trends and Realtime Search Trends. Daily Search Trends compile up to 20 of the top trending terms for the previous days. While Realtime Search Trends provides you with all of the top trending terms for the past 24 hours. This is a valuable tool for finding new niche markets that are just beginning to grow.
Keep in mind that trends in accounting won’t necessarily appear every day. Even so, make sure to check regularly to see if there are terms or topics out there that you can capitalize on. Any trend could be the next big thing to launch you to long-term success.
If you think that checking Trending Searches every day will be tedious and time-consuming, we highly suggest you subscribe to Exploding Topics. It’s a newsletter that will not only email you the trends that are exploding on Google Trends, but will also break down why they are so popular. If you’re interested in stocks or financial planning, this is the perfect tool for you. It’s also a free resource that savvy accounting professionals share with their clients and prospective clients to help increase their status and perceived value.
3. Identify Seasonal Trends in Accounting
Google Trends is also a great tool for planning your marketing calendar. You can use it to look out for trends or topics in accounting that become relevant, seasonally, or on a periodic basis. To understand this further, let’s take ‘tax day’ as an example search term.
With the last two years being an unusual exception, every year from 2016 to 2019 for the past 5 years, the search for tax day is shown to rise steeply around March). This seasonal trend attests to the urgency that people feel when ‘Tax Day’ is nearing. If you’re someone who provides services or products related to taxes, you should definitely maximize your marketing efforts during this time of the year.
Whatever niche you are in, it would be a loss not to use Google Trends to identify the seasons where trends or topics relevant to your firm or your client’s business really explode. With this knowledge, you can take advantage of the perfect timing and also use the time when a trend’s not popular to plan and prepare as necessary.
4. Know Where to Find Your Dream Clients
In addition to helping identify and predict marketing trends, Google Trends can also tell you where to find your dream clients. Google Trends shows interactive trend heatmaps for subregions, such as countries, states, or even cities. To see a popularity score, just hover a mouse over a subregion, and this will tell you how popular the term is there. To make things much easier, there’s also a ranking beside the heatmap that tells where a search term or topic is trending the most.
With this feature, you can efficiently concentrate your time and effort in marketing what you offer to the specific places that have demand for them. You can find your dream clients without spending more than you absolutely need too.
5. Discover Related Terms and Queries
Google Trends can also be used to discover related terms and queries to the trends you want to view and analyze. This feature will give you a better understanding of the search intent for a particular term. Knowing what motivates people to research certain products or services will help you to improve your marketing strategy for your accounting firm.
6. Compare Trends, Businesses, and Competitors
Last but certainly not least, Google Trends allows you to compare up to five various search terms. This fantastic feature will show you which trends, businesses, or competitors are growing and developing.
Example 1: CPA vs. Accountant vs. CFO vs. Bookkeeper vs. Enrolled Agent
Which one of these terms is generating the most interest over time?
Off the top of our heads, you may assume that more people are searching for accountants than for CPA since the latter is just a more specific subset. But, surprisingly enough, Google Trends tells us that CPA is by far the most searched for term among all these.
This unusual analytic is one of the many reasons we need to depend on data-driven tools like Google Trends, rather than our own intuition. If you take some time to reflect on it, you’ll likely realize why this is, even though it wouldn’t likely have been your first guess. For one, rightly or wrongly, people likely feel more secure paying for the services of an accountant who has a state-issued license when complying with their state’s regulations.
Furthermore, accounting professionals like you may be shocked that CFO smashes the bookkeeper and enrolled agent. Bookkeeping is more broadly needed, but it’s interesting that somehow people search for CFOs more. For the same bookkeeper keyword, it’s also interesting how the presence of the Bookkeeper launch search term attests to how most bookkeepers are raving about this.
But, before jumping to conclusions, let’s dive deeper into this, and break down the data by looking at the related queries and terms.
And when you do, you’ll see that the top related queries under CPA are not necessarily about people searching for CPA services, but rather info about CPAs. This is an important distinction to make when interpreting the data. If you’re not a CPA, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not going to get any business.
If you check on related topics, you’ll learn that most of the searches are related to how to become a CPA rather than hiring one. Similarly, when you check the other terms, most are about exams or famous companies. It’s fascinating to know what people search about related to these professions.
Whenever you use Google Trends, make sure to always dig a little deeper to determine if the trends you’re seeing reflect the market’s demand for the service or desire for the knowledge to know why these terms are important. Always try to ponder what other factors could have caused the fluctuations or massive differences on the graph.
Example 2: CFO Services vs. Tax Planning
Let’s now look at the frequency difference of cfo services versus tax planning from 2015 to 2020. We can observe how tax planning unexpectedly has a much higher emphasis than CFO services. Based on the trend graph, it’s a larger pool to market to if you were to offer tax planning services rather than CFO services.
Let’s say you decided to incorporate tax planning into how you’re marketing your firm. Wouldn’t you want to know which states are the most interested in it? As we mentioned earlier, Google Trends can show you a heatmap to help you know where you should focus your marketing efforts.
To supplement that further, you should scroll to see the related queries for each term.
The term “outsource CFO services” is literally the only related query to CFO services. Why is it not hiring an in-house CFO or becoming a CFO? You should also ponder why the market isn’t that interested in CFO services.
We see more data and related queries for tax planning. While not show on the image, the next set of queries shows something very interesting and that is the question, “What is tax planning?” The questions a great indicator that there’s an interested audience out there that wants to learn more or even hire consultation services related to learning about it.
This would be a fantastic search term to bid on, to write content around, and to provide coaching services for. You could be the go-to expert helping people understand what tax planning is and how they can get the maximum value out of it.
Example 3: Certified Tax Coach vs. Profit First Professional
Let’s compare more designations: certified tax coach versus profit first professional. Does the general population really care or even know about these two?
We see spikes here, but you should also notice how there are flat lines corresponding to zero. Based on the graph, profit first professional has a slight edge over certified tax coach, and so you’d likely want to go with profit first professional. However, always make sure to dig a little deeper before making this decision.
If you scroll down slightly further, you’ll see that Google Trends doesn’t have any additional data on this term. To ensure that you make informed decisions, watch out for search terms that Google Trends doesn’t have enough data to show for the other breakdowns. This tells us that a term is not relevant to the market, at least not online anyways.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t work with certified tax coaches and profit first professionals? Not necessarily. These could still be promising designations that have yet to make the market aware of their importance and what it means to be associated with their brands. This is just another factor to consider.
Example 4: Quickbooks Help vs. Xero Help
Now, let’s see how QuickBooks and Xero are faring when compared to each other. While Quickbooks is more established as a business accounting software, Xero is coming up as a formidable underdog. If you’re considering one of these, Google Trends can help you weigh the pros and cons of which software you should be associating yourself with.
Currently, Quickbooks is objectively about 11 times more popular than Xero on Google Trends. Some people might think that it’s always better to go where the majority of the market’s interest is. However, there are a lot of reasons for certain industries to gravitate towards Xero rather than Quickbooks.
Bigger companies like Quickbooks are less likely to care about your business and are more likely to compete with you as well as evidenced by many of their newer service offerings that directly compete with service providers. While much smaller companies such as Xero, they are more likely to support you to help get the market to adopt them more quickly as you have aligned goals.
Example 5: Payroll vs. PPP
What about payroll versus PPP? These are major terms where the latter is just brand new to the market. So, is there enough interest in it to warrant a marketing campaign?
Needless to say, payroll has some spikes around the quarterly timeframes, when it becomes due, but PPP already had remarkable spikes.
If you were able to jump on PPP when it launched, it seems that it was a great opportunity. That isn’t to say that there isn’t an opportunity now, but you can see that recently it’s been slowly dropping off. However, keep in mind that certain things can trigger a rise and have these search terms trending again.
Will you be paying attention when that happens? Do you have systems in place to capitalize on it quickly and efficiently? Being quick to act with relevant information will lead you to opportunities that can benefit your accounting firm for a long time.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?
Check Google Trends regularly or subscribe to Exploding Topics to always be updated on the things that can be a great opportunity. And, don’t forget to always go a layer deeper when interpreting the graphs you’re seeing on there. Contextualize the intent of the market for making things trend before you make important decisions.
You could also let us know if there are particular search trends, more specific to your industry, that you’re curious about. Let’s break down those results together to gain a better understanding of what the market’s interest is, what’s going on, what trends are developing, and how you can be a trendsetter yourself.
If you want to make more money in your accounting firm, you need to focus on three things: expanding your networks, having the right mindset, and improving your skill sets in the industry. With quality coaching and training, you can significantly improve your skillset and produce more tangible results that will increase your value and worth.
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