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Google Trends: Free yet powerful tool for trainers and students

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Google Trends is a powerful free tool that has a number of applications in the training industry. There are some great ways to use Google Trends for your job search, career planning, teaching & training activities, and for simple fun or curiosity.

Career & Job Search

If you’re a vocational trainer looking for a new job, it pays to know where the competition is strongest.

Heatmap of searches for “Training jobs” over the last 12 months

Heatmap of searches for “Training jobs” in Australia


Seems to be a lot of jobseekers in Western Australia and Queensland, with less in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Very few searches in the NT and Tasmania.

Searches for “Training jobs” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "Training jobs" in Australia since 2004


Overall searches for “Training jobs” peaked back in 2010 and seem to have stabilised, even decreased, over the last couple of years. The popularity of searches for TAFEs, on the other hand, has definitely declined:

Searches for “TAFE” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "TAFE" in Australia since 2004


If  we look at searches for key courses though – Certificate IIIs, IVs and Diplomas) – demand has remained steady, even increased! That suggests people are still doing the courses, but other training providers like private Registered Training Organisations have taken on more of the student load.

Certificate III vs Certificate IV vs Diploma (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for Certificate III vs Certificate IV vs Diploma in Australia since 2004
Blue = Certificate III
Red = Certiifcate IV
Yellow = Diploma (including Certificate 3 & 4, excluding Graduate Diplomas & Advanced Diplomas)

Searches for Inspire Education (Australia, Jobs & Education, 2004-Present)

Of course, you can always use it as part of your vetting process when looking for a new employer or training company. Go Inspire!

Searches for “Inspire Education” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "Inspire Education" in Australia since 2004

Training & Teaching

Google Trends can be a supplement for your teaching materials. It’s easy to generate a graph to support a point you’re trying to make (if the data supports it!). It’s also a great research tool; you can start out with a broad term, find out related terms people are searching and then break it down by country, state and city.

Fun & Games

“Guess the trend” is a fun game to play with your friends (or students). Working out what causes spikes in searches based on dates and locations of search data can be a way to involve students in current events or quiz people on pop culture.

Riddle me this:

What happens in August every 4 years, and also in February every 4 years?

The Olympic Games trend line

The Olympic Games!


Happy Hour (below) is scaling new heights of popularity, but which country searches for it the most?

Happy hour trend line

Romania. Australia comes in fourth, following the United States and Moldova (it borders on Romania).

“Happy Hour”, Interest by Region (Worldwide, 2004-Present)

"Happy Hour" interest by region since 2004

Getting the right results

It’s easy to lose track of time asking “Hey, I wonder if….” type questions on Google Trends. You’ll be surprised what you can find (not to mention who is searching for what!). If you don’t want to kill a lot of time, the best way to find the data you want is to go in with a question that needs to be answered.

For example, if we want to find out where the demand is for childcare courses, we can look at where the most searches are being carried out in Australia:

Searches for “Childcare Courses” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "Childcare Courses" in Australia since 2004

Victoria seems to have the most searches, with most of the eastern states putting in relatively good numbers.

Some terms might not have enough data to produce a result; or people might be using a variety of terms to find the same thing. For example, people looking for training and assessment courses might search many variants like TAE40110, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Cert IV Training and Assessment or Cert IV TAE. Google Trends is sensitive to variations on these equivalent terms:

Searches for “TAE40110” vs “Certificate IV in Training and Assessment” vs “Cert IV in Training and Assessment” vs “Cert IV TAE” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "TAE40110" vs "Certificate IV in Training and Assessment" vs "Cert IV in Training and Assessment" vs "Cert IV TAE" in Australia since 2004

We might not even notice which one we’re using, but Trends will display different results based on which one we enter. It’s usually best to start with a broad, industry standard term like “Certificate IV in Training and Assessment” and you can use the “Related terms” section to find similar keywords:

Related Terms for “Certificate IV in Training and Assessment” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Related Terms for "Certificate IV in Training and Assessment" in Australia since 2004Don’t forget to use the ‘Limit to’ section to break down results even further. You can focus on a particular period of time, a particular region, whether people were searching the web, news, images, products or Youtube; or a particular category like Jobs & Education, Law & Government and more.

Finally, you can combine multiple key terms together to get an aggregate of searches for all those terms:

Searches for “TAE40110 + Certificate IV in Training and Assessment + Cert IV in Training and Assessment + Cert IV TAE” (Australia, 2004-Present)

Searches for "TAE40110 + Certificate IV in Training and Assessment + Cert IV in Training and Assessment + Cert IV TAE" in Australia since 2004

Try it out!

It’s a cool, it’s powerful, it’s free and it can help you. How much more needs to be said? Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.


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