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How Google Trends can help make an SEO judgement call

If you’re unsure on what term to use for something on your website, Google Trends can show you how interest in different terms is changing over time, which can help with your SEO.

Read Time: 2 minutes

Developing a language style guide for your organisation is a good thing. Above all else, it gives consistency to your written content and that looks slick. To put it another way, if you read content with spelling, grammar and number inconsistencies, you could be forgiven for wondering what else the company hasn’t been paying attention to.

We recently heard of a company that developing its style guide get stuck on whether to go with “e-learning” or “eLearning”. For a lot of people that’s simply a matter of preference, but when you begin to break it down, it gets a little more complicated. What’s more, the decision has an inherent impact on SEO.

Meaning “electronic learning,” you could take a cue from “email” and go with “elearning”, but a quick glance at the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries shows them favouring “e-learning”. This is certainly backed up by the number of references found by Google, with it returning “about 1,340,000,000 results” for “e-learning” and “about 103,000,000 results” for “elearning”.

While that might seem to settle things, it’s worth keeping in mind that those results could be from pages dating back to the dawn of the web. They say nothing about how things might have changed or be changing. Don’t forget, there was a time when “email” was “e-mail”.

Enter Google Trends: for the uninitiated, a way to look at interest in different search terms over time. As you can see, there’s been a dramatic swing from the use of one term to the other since 2004 and the trend shows now sign of reversing. So, personal preferences aside, punting for “elearning” is the sensible way to go from an SEO perspective.

There are all sorts of occasions when a decision between terms needs to be made – and terms that are often not as similar as “e-learning” and “eLearning”. Do you go with “PR” or “public relations”? “Digital marketing” or “online marketing”? “marketing and PR” or “communications”? All other things being equal, it’s always worth checking Google Trends to see how interest in the terms is developing.

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