Comprehensive Guide to Search Listening

Have you ever wondered what queries people type into search engines? How often does a specific keyword get searched?

Search engines have become the first point of reference for consumers when they need information about any product or service, brand, or even company. Many companies take important decisions with no idea what people are searching on the web.

Search engine analysis to understand consumer behavior

Search engine data isn’t a bad way to get an overview of your audience. In this post, I’ll explain to you what search listening is and how you can perform search listening. We’re going to look at how you can do search listening for free, and I’ll also share with you some of the best tools that allow you to listen, analyze and take action on search trends.

Ok. Let’s dive in.

What is Search Listening?

Search listening is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting search engine data to gain insights into consumer behavior. This activity has been a very useful tool for marketers over the last decade, as it provides deep knowledge of customers’ needs, preferences, and behavior.

Search Listening provides insights on customer opinions, attitudes, behaviors, and motivations gleaned from search engine queries. Search Listening can help your organization gain powerful, enlightening customer intelligence to improve sales, marketing, communications, and customer service.

Search listening
Search Listening

Importance of Search Listening

Search listening helps you understand the level of awareness your brand has in the market, how are customers perceiving your brand and how is your competition faring in comparison to you.

  • What do they like or dislike about your brand?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What do they want more of or want less of?

Search listening will give you the answers to these questions and many more. The insight gained from this analysis can inform marketing, sales, customer support, and even product development activities.

The importance of search listening cannot be ignored by businesses, as it gives them an accurate idea about their audience, enabling them to frame better marketing strategies for themselves.

How to perform Search Listening?

The analysis of search engine data allows you to find out how people feel about your brand, competitors as well as keywords related to your industry and products. To do this, you need to set up monitoring rules that will track conversations based on specific keywords so you can monitor them.

For instance, if your company receives multiple complaints regarding late delivery of products during monsoon season, then you can include “delivery” as an important keyword in your search listening metrics to keep track of any negative sentiment around it.

Negative brand reputations of a company
Negative brand reputations of a company

You can monitor various search engines such as Google, Youtube, or Amazon to have a clear insight into consumer needs.

According to research, about 87% of shoppers now begin product searches online. They rely on search engines to learn something new or purchase a new product/service. On average, Google processes 3.5 billion search queries every single day. For companies, this highlights the importance of search listening and understanding the audience better.

Sources of Search Listening Data

There are numerous datasets of search engine queries, which are open source that you can utilize to analyze consumer behavior more efficiently. Here are some of them:

Autosuggest feature of Search Engines

Remember, while typing something in Google’s input box, you get suggestions from Google to complete the search term. Suggestions data are great, credible sources for acquiring popular search terms queried by folks across the globe.

Youtube autosuggestions data can be used for Search Listening
Youtube autosuggest

Google, YouTube, and Amazon are a few examples of well-known search engines that provide an autosuggest feature based on aggregated user interactions. This feature appears as a dropdown menu below the search bar that displays related queries based on what you type into the search bar.

For example, if you were to start typing “What is the weather in” into google’s search bar, Google’s autosuggest feature would return a list of locations based on the most commonly searched locations in their database. In addition to popular search queries, it also provides spelling corrections and different variations of your query.

Amazon suggestions data for search listening
Amazon suggestions data

In the case of Amazon, some top sellers are also suggested which are not possible to get from crawling web pages because a lot of products are only available on the Amazon website.

People Also Ask

The People Also Ask box appears when a user searches for something on Google. It is a list of questions related to the search term, based on common queries that people have asked in the past. If someone clicks on one of the questions in this box, they will see a paragraph of text appear with an answer to that question.

People also ask
PAA feature provided by Google

Google has been experimenting with this feature for years now. The first mention of it comes from 2015- when it was called “Quick Answers.” Since then, it has gone through multiple changes and improvements.

PAA box is a great way to give your users more information they are looking for while giving you an opportunity to increase your visibility and click-through rate.

Search Listening Tools

A search listening tool is a research tool that has monitored and tracked keywords searched by people for a long time, and these tools are popular and extensively used by marketers, researchers, bloggers, and brands.


AnswerThePublic is a research tool that pulls out Google autosuggest data and reports back many content ideas that include questions, phrases, and comparisons.

Let’s say, you wanna know popular queries about “dogs” in Google. You head on to AnswerThePublic and type “dogs” in the input, hit Enter and you will get to see many queries searched by people across the globe.

answer the public results
AnswerThePublic visualizing popular queries for the term dogs

AnswerThePublic uses question bridges like “what dogs”, “how dogs”, “why dogs”, “which dogs”, “is dogs”, “are dogs”, etc which Google autocompletes and reports it back within seconds. Moreover, it uses alphabetical bridges like “dogs a”, “dogs b”, “dogs c”, “dogs d”, etc and phrasal terms like “dogs for”, “dogs like, “dogs with”, “dogs near”, “dogs are”, etc.

Lastly, it uses comparisons such as “dogs and”, “dogs or” and “dogs vs”, which are super-beneficial in understanding competitors and often used as competitor analysis tools.

AnswerThePublic uses Google Autocomplete Data


AnswerThePublic helps you monitor the market and pinpoint exactly the demands of consumers, which can be useful in product development. Another essential use case of the tool is, of course, monitoring public feelings on the web to have a better brand reputation. Apart from tracking your brand reputation, you can monitor your competitors’ actions and understand what’s going on in their world.

Although AnswerThePublic is made for monitoring search queries, it is a very popular tool used by bloggers and content creators extensively to get content ideas for social media and blogs. You can crank out untapped opportunities to rank your website and stay ahead of your competitors by publishing articles on undiscovered topics and questions.

search listening tool
Most popular Search Listening tool, AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic PRO Features

  • Comparing data over time– You can track any keyword that you’re interested and you will get to see people’s feelings, perceptions and thoughts over time, which will make it easier for your team to react.
  • Search listening alerts– It’s a pro-only feature through which users will automatically get weekly email digests receiving new, emerging suggestions, topics, and questions.
  • Unlimited daily searches, of course.
  • International data– Queries looked at by people are different in different regions, countries, and languages. Hopefully, you can access suggestions data from many countries and languages using AnswerThePublic.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a tool that lets you search for specific keywords and see how frequently those keywords are searched for overtime. You can use it to track and compare the popularity of different queries over time, and you can see how much interest there is in particular topics at any given moment.

Results are displayed in a graph that illustrates how often the terms are searched over time. The results can be refined by geography, category, and time. It’s possible to compare multiple topics side-by-side in the same graph. The tool also allows you to see related searches and rising searches. In essence, it shows data about your topic of interest in relation to other topics.

Google trends comparison feature
Google trends comparison feature

Use cases

  • Find new markets– Search from specific geographical locations to find new markets where your product would be popular. It’s helpful in product development- and it will let you know if you are working with an unpopular term.
  • Compare products– Search for two different products or brands to compare their popularity over time or by geography. For example, you can compare your company’s brand (or product) with that of its competitors.
  • Research keywords– Search Google Trends for related terms to see what’s popular and how it’s changed over time. For example, if you’re considering writing a blog post about “flowers,” you could search Google Trends to check out the popularity of “flowers” and related keywords like “roses,” “lilies,” etc.
Comparison by region

How Google Trends is a Search listening tool?

Google Trends has industry-best researched fresh data which is a killer search listening tool.

  • Find out if people are searching for your business, or for the products and services you offer, in your local area. In addition, you can use it to find out if people are searching for your competition.
  • Find out which search terms are most popular in your area. This will allow you to determine what keywords to include in your website, blog posts, and other content marketing efforts.
  • Determine which cities have the highest interest in your product or service. This can help you determine where you should have sales events and/or focus your marketing efforts in order to generate more sales.
  • Determine which times of the year see the highest demand for your product or service so that you can schedule ads and special promotions accordingly.
  • Determine whether interest in your product or service has increased or decreased over time so that you know what marketing efforts are working and which ones aren’t working as well.


Buzzsumo is a tool that allows you to find out what content is popular in your industry. You can search for any topic and see the associated content that has performed the best based on search results.

The crisis Alerting feature of buzzsumo lets you monitor your brand and competitors

You can also use Buzzsumo to monitor your brand, competitors, or industry influencers. Also, receive daily, weekly or monthly alerts with the latest popular content so you never miss important news.

The BuzzSumo application has three main features:

  • Content Insights: You can search for any topic, competitor, or domain to find the most popular articles and social signals on that topic
  • Monitor Brand Mentions: Identify who is talking about your brand or a topic relevant to you. You can even see if they have linked to you so you can engage them and build relationships with the right people.
  • Influencer Research: Find key influencers by topic area or domain name.
  • Alerts: Create alerts for the topics, brands, and keywords that have an impact on your business


By utilizing search listening tools, you can gain a wealth of information about consumer trends, which could significantly help your brand reputation. It is massively used in market research and product development. By eliminating irrelevant keywords and making sure you reach the right audience, you can make sure that your content has a greater impact.

In this article, we discussed the basics of search listening, how to perform it to grow your business and also displayed several search listening tools.

Is there something I missed? Please comment below, we would love to hear about it.

FAQs on Search Listening

What is Search Listening?

Search listening is the process of gathering search engine data to gain insights into consumer behavior. By examining trends in search queries brands can determine what people are looking for at any given moment.

What are the tools for Search Listening?

Search listening tools are research tools that have monitored keywords searched by people for years, and these tools are popular and extensively used by marketers, researchers, bloggers, and brands. Here are the three most popular search listening tools:

  • Answer The Public
  • Google Trends
  • Buzzsumo

What is the importance of Search Listening?

Search listening is a great way to understand your audience’s needs and wants before you create content for them. Search listening can be helpful to a range of teams within a company, including marketing, product development, and customer service.

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