Using Google Trends to Write a Better Questionnaire

By Kristin Cavallaro, Knowledge and Data Analysis Specialist

We have all felt the pain once or twice in our careers where we were asked to write about something we know absolutely nothing about. The same can be true when it comes to questionnaires. While nothing beats bringing in a subject matter expert (SME) to help you write a questionnaire on a topic like underwater breathing equipment and the top brands associated with the activity,.  where do you even start?

I usually start with Google.  If I Google scuba gear, the results include “scuba classes,” “scuba clubs” and shopping sites for scuba gear. I can even view a map of all locations in my area that sell scuba gear. Okay, this is a good start. From this point forward, I can easily come up with a couple of questions around different types of scuba gear and brands. I could also ask questions pertaining to which stores respondents are aware of and if they are likely to shop at those locations.  By now, I have a pretty good questionnaire going, but I can’t help but wonder what I might be missing.

What are people searching for if they are that are actually into scuba diving? That is when I found my new favorite site- Google Trends.

Here, I can search for scuba gear and I can see how popular this search topic is, where are people searching from, and how  this search has trended over the past several years, past month, past week, etc.

When I go into google trends, I can search on scuba gear and I can see how popular this search is, where are people searching from, and how has this search trended over the past several years, past month, past week, etc. You can further filter the map by clicking on the country, or additionally you can filter  by city.

Another neat feature is“related topics.” This helps us to see what other topics actual people who are interested in scuba diving are searching for. This way, we can see that we may want to segment on diving vs snorkeling. We may also want to ensure that we have Cressi (an apparently popular scuba brand) represented in our questionnaire.


There are many options to use when comparing search terms within Google Trends.  Let’s say that we want to see the differences in search results for Scuba gear versus the searches for Dive gear:


To compare two search terms, simply type a new term into the “compare” box at the top of the screen. The possibilities are endless and it will help you sound like a little more of a subject matter expert when writing your questionnaire.