How successful will your side project be? Ultimately, the buck stops with you; however, there are a number of tools—many of which you’ll find in our weekly newsletter — at your disposal to help you in your marketing efforts. Google Trends is one of those tools.

Google Trends is a free, data-driven website which displays the popularity of search terms and topics. You can use the information for the following: researching your competition, scheduling your content promotion, advertising in the right locations, and optimizing your website content.

When to Promote Content

Do a keyword search in Google Trends about what your project is about. ‘Interest over time’, ‘Interest by subregion’, ‘Related topics’, ‘Related queries’—these are the four sections that will be displayed. ‘Interest over time’ will display the popularity of your search term over the length of a certain time period.

Let’s say your entrepreneurial project is tech-related. Search “tech startup” and the graph will default to showing the prior 12 months. In the past year, that search phrase was most searched the weeks of October 15th, December 3rd, February 4th, and July 15th.

For a more historical view, you’re able to display results from 2004 until today. The photo below shows the search phrase “tech startup” is about as popular now as it’s ever been since 2004.

Where to Advertise

‘Interest by subregion’ tells you where your startup idea is the most popular. The results are shown as a heat map and default to the state level. You’re able to zoom in to the metro level and even smaller to the city level.

Like ‘Interest over time’, the ‘Interest by subregion’ section shows popularity levels from 0 to 100. To help you interpret the data, Google shares this note: “A value of 0 indicates a location where there was not enough data for this term.” And there are plenty of large areas around the country that will display a 0; therefore, don’t be discouraged if your search term doesn’t appear popular. If you want to market your project in an area that doesn’t appear fruitful, don’t let the Google Trends results discourage you. Let trial and error be the final arbiter of your efforts.

How to Optimize Website Content

Use the ‘Related queries’ section to find keywords similar to yours. Here’s the next step: include the more popular keywords in your blog posts and on other areas of your website. This is a basic search engine optimization technique which will raise your website rankings.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo constantly crawl the web looking for websites with the most relevant keywords and content that people search for. The more often you publish unique and quality content, the better chance your website will rank higher in search results.

For advanced ways to use Google Trends, check out Trends Help. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter to learn about tools that can help your side project.