How to Research Your Target Audience With Google

How to Research Your Target Audience With Google

30th May 2012

To be really successful in both search and social my strong opinion is that you need to do research. Not just on which rankingfactors are important, but, maybe even more important, on your target audience.

Whenever I do training sessions I tell my students to find and research this target audience, find out who they are and what they do.

Research who will potentially be visiting your site, who has the need for your products and who is potentially going to be your ‘brand advocate’ by spreading your content around the web.

To find these target audiences is one thing, the next thing is to actually tailor your content so it will appeal to them. Appeal so they will find it and appeal so they will act on it. To be able to tailor that content its important to figure out for example what people are searching for. The question my students always ask me: “Where do I start and is there a tool for that?”.

There are many tools and some of them are right on your doorstep. Google for example offers plenty of tools for this type of research. For example the Google Adwords Keywordtool, Google Trends and Google Insights.

Since Google updated Google Think Insights last week all these tools are ‘under one roof’ and contain a lot more data. And it has gotten even more interesting because there are more features and more countries available. Time to take a look at how the new Google Think Insights and how it can help you do research.

First: What did Google change?

Before we start on the tools a quick update on what changed. Many of you might already be aware of the Google Insights and Google Trends tools: they give you quick insights in the behavior of searchers. Now Google has changed a few things on Google Insights.

Research data

They are placed on one website: Think Insights Now. And many of them are aimed at local targeting:

  • You can access the research library of studies and whitepapers from across 21 different countries.
  • You can use the Insights MENA tool to explore the media habits of consumers in the Middle East
  • The Insights Africa tool gives you information on North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

You can also Watch new videos on the consumer journey, with information on behaviors such as “research online, purchase offline” (ROPO).

Take a look at the introduction video Google made:

More local data

The most important change is that Google recently updated the Google Insights tool to include data from more than 21 countries. You can now filter your target audience much better on geographic location and seeing local trends and popularity.

A wealth of tools

Now to the tools. On the Thinkwithgoogle site you can find many tools. We’ll be focussing on the “Real-Time Insight Tools” from Google which can help you enhance your research on your target audience. There is the well known Adwords Keyword Tool as well as Insight for search, but there are a few there which can be very helpful.

Let’s take a look at a few of the tools:

Doubleclick Adplanner

An interesting tool is the connection Google has with the Doubleclick ad planner. It gives you some interesting statistics on sites and their visitors. Take a look for example at some of the data it is providing about State of Search:

It even gives you information on competitors, which sites did visitors of State of Search visit as well?

YouTube Trends Dashboard

The YouTube Trends Dashboard lets you select a country or region within the US and an age group and it will then show you the most popular videos for that selection.

You can even filter them down to male or female, and make a distinction between most shared and most viewed videos. It can help you figure out what kind of videos you need to produce to reach your target audience or to get enough shares.

The ‘compare’ tab even gives you some great insights in differences between these groups or locations. You can even show which videos are unique and which are common.

See for example the differences between females in the age 18-24 in the UK, Sweden and France:

YouTube Comment Search

Related to the YouTube Trends is the YouTube Comment Search. A nifty tool which does what it says: it let’s you search through the comments on YouTube. You can sort on rating or time.

This way you can find potential influentials who are active on YouTube. Need someone who has a strong opinion on Apple? Do a search for “Apple Macbook” and you will find some interesting videos and potential connections right there.

What do You Love 

The “What do you Love” tool is mostly used as a ‘fun’ tool which allows you to see related content around the topic you are interested in and also a quick overview of more tools you can use to do research around a specific topic. It allows you to go to Image Search, Trends, Gmail, blogsearch and news or check for patents and set up alerts for example.

Again, links to valuable information, if you use it correctly. To really get a benefit from this one you really need to think about what topics you will put in there, make it specific.

Google Correlate

An interesting one also is Google Correlate. This lets you find search patterns which correspond with real-world trends. This is the tool with which Google can predict the outbreak of the flu for example.

Here for example you can do a search for “Eurovision” and set the location to “UK”. You can see which terms correlate with that and you can see when these terms are ‘hot’ or not. Interestingly enough it gives you dates here, but also possibly related events.

This tool is useful for keyword research as well as finding out related topics which could potentially give you even more exposure.

Google Trends

Google Trends is probably very familiar for many, but if it’s not be sure to check this one out because it can give you extensive information on topics, when these topics are searched for and in what regions.

A search for “Cookie Law” for example shows us that mainly in the last few weeks people have been searching for the topic and also mainly in Kensington and London.

But it can be even more useful if you start looking at products. A search for ‘umbrella’ tells you the best place to be selling them in the UK could very well be Teddington, strangely enough just before the summer…

And what about the contact lenses James Murray wrote about recently? Well Google says James was right, October it is:

Next to these Insights tools the site offers even more:

Benchmark tools

Here you can find a lot of information on benchmarks done in several different areas. You can find articles about benchmarks on response rates, rich media an video for example. Strangely enough the tools don’t seem to be working at the moment.

Mobile Planet Tool

Finally the Mobile Planet Tool, which gives you insights into the behavior of target audiences on their mobile phones. You can easily create your own charts here by filtering specific data.

See for example this chart which I created within seconds about the online browsing behavior of the Dutch on their mobile phones in 2011:

Where to start?

So there are many many tools out there, and the ones above are just the ones Google is giving you to do research on your target audience.

Playing with these tools can be a lot of fun and before you know it you’ve spent an entire day just trying out stuff. Which is something you should definitely do one day, if you have the time.

But before you do that you should really first think about who your potential target audience really is. Who are your clients, your potential clients and those who could be talking about you. Then figure out where they could be and research them specific.

If you just dive in you might drown in the enormous amount of data. But if you think first, these “Think Insight” tools are a great next step.


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.