The 3 Biggest Sources for Uncovering Hot Topics & Trends Online

March 24, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

hot-topicIf you’re like most people, you love to follow the latest news and keep up with the most popular stories happening around you. Whether you like it or not, breaking news catches up with you pretty quickly as TVs, computers, and mobile phones constantly battle for your attention. Even if you try to get away, you’ll still likely encounter friends and family who buzz about the coolest gadgets, products, services, and movies.

In other words, you can’t escape hot topics in this society. People talk about interesting things all the time and easily get excited about intriguing events and developments. With the rise of social media, search, and e-commerce, the Internet has become a key driver in delivering and spreading popular news. It’s easy to keep track of rising trends online and this means you can leverage valuable trending information to improve your online business. I’ll show you how in this next series of articles.

So why would you want to monitor hot topics and keep up with the latest buzz? As an Internet marketer, entrepreneur, or blogger, monitoring the latest news means more opportunities for increased traffic, sales, and conversions to your website.

But first, let’s discuss how you can obtain this information on rising trends and hot topics. You’ll have to wait until the next article to find out how you can use it all effectively.

1. Social Media & Networking Sites

Social media has transferred power from big online media companies to the hands of individual web users. If there’s an interesting story or article out there, you can be sure that people will be voting it up on sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, and Reddit and talking about it on networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s an example of how to find what’s hot using Twitter.

Twitter
twittertwitter-trendingBy now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Twitter, an exploding social conversation platform and the future of search. Twitter features a useful search box as well as a small section that displays the top 10 trending topics.

For example, #sesny seems to be a popular topic, mainly because SES NY (a search engine strategies conference) is happening today. You can even click on the topics to get realtime searches of what people are talking about (shown below). This is very handy for pretty much any topic you want to learn more about. Simply do a search on Twitter and you’ll get a general sense of what’s hot right now.

twitter-ses

For popular stories on other social media platforms, check out the front pages of Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Delicious (or in one shot using popurls). Those are the big ones but you can also find niche social media sites or look through the hot stories in more specific categories as well.

2. Search engine data

A majority of web surfers start off their online sessions using a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. This means that if there’s a popular topic or product out there, you can bet it’s being searched for by millions of people. Below are some of the best tools to obtain this search frequency data.

Google Trends
google trends Google Trends is an amazing tool that allows you to see the most frequently searched for keywords during the current day. Since Google has close to 70% market share of the search industry it offers a good representation of what people are currently interested in worldwide. Below is a screen shot of some of the hot queries for today.

google-hottrends

Google Trends also allows you to drill down into specific keywords and shows “Hotness” level, related searches, peak time, and primary location. This is all extremely valuable information. If you want to get data and trends for topics not on the hot trends list, you can still use Google Trends or you can use the Adwords Keyword Tool to obtain relative search frequency numbers.

google-letterman

Keyword research tools
Keyword research tools also offer valuable information on keyword trends and search frequency data. Use these tools for keyword comparisons and find high potential keywords for popular topics. Some of my favorites are the Google Adwords Keyword Tool (free) and paid aggregate tools like Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery. Start off with the Google Keyword tool and subscribe to the others if you want even more data to compare.

Internal search logs
Your site should have an internal site search function. If not, be sure to get one. Not only does it enable your users to find the content that they’re looking for but it also opens up new opportunities for market research. Google Custom Search is a good solution that allows you to track searches through Google Analytics. Once this is set up, monitor your search logs on a regular basis and look for keyword trends you can capitalize on (more on this in the next article).

Yahoo Buzz Index
yahoo buzzWhen it comes to search, Google is the clear winner with Yahoo a distant second. However, Yahoo does offer a tool similar to Google Trends that tracks buzzworthy searches. The biggest difference is that Yahoo Buzz Index mainly focuses on the entertainment industry – which is great if your business revolves around actors, movies, music, sports, TV, or video games.

yahoo buzz

3. E-Commerce Sites

With advancing technology, more and more people are opting to shop online from the comfort of their own homes. If you’re earning a living online, this is definitely a great trend. You can easily see what the best-selling products and services are by perusing through some of the biggest e-commerce sites, namely Amazon and eBay.

Amazon Bestsellers and Movers & Shakers
amazon logoAmazon is the biggest e-commerce site online that sells pretty much everything under the sun, from books and DVDs to electronics, jewelry and clothing. With its massive inventory and huge customer base, Amazon offers a wealth of sales data. Navigate to the Amazon bestsellers list and you’ll find top products in each category. It even has listings for Hot New Releases, Most Gifted, Most Wished for, and Movers & Shakers. Definitely keep on eye on this page if you have your own e-commerce site or if you monetize your sites through advertising or affiliate offers.

amazon best sellers

eBay
ebay logoAnother big e-commerce site that people use for their shopping needs is eBay. Check out eBay Pulse to stay up to date on the hottest products being sold in each category. Below are the most popular overall searches being performed today. Looks like everyone still wants a Wii.

ebay-pulse

Do you use these tools to keep on top of the hottest topics and trends? Are there any useful sources that weren’t included on this list? Leave a comment with your thoughts and suggestions.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll describe why hot topics are important and how you can leverage them in any online business to significantly increase traffic, sales, and conversions. You definitely don’t want to miss it so be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed if you haven’t done so already.

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Comments

20 Responses to “The 3 Biggest Sources for Uncovering Hot Topics & Trends Online”

Erica on March 24th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I definitely use several of these sources to find out what is hot. Namely FaceBook and Amazon. Amazon suggestion is how I buy most Christmas/ birthday gifts.

Gyutae Park on April 3rd, 2009

How do you use Facebook to look for hot trends? I’m curious as to how you use that data for your online business. Do you mean the hot trending status messages? (similar to Twitter)

 
 
Harsh Agrawal on March 25th, 2009

I use almost all the tools here….
oh not to mention only free one 🙂

Gyutae Park on April 3rd, 2009

Well then, you’re in luck because most of the tools I mentioned are free – other than Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery (paid keyword research tools)

 
 
Kai Lo on March 26th, 2009

Social networking websites can spread news faster than wildfire.

 
Mike Huang on March 27th, 2009

Twitter is basically where EVERYONE finds their latest news now, lol.

 
Vishal Nayak - B2B Copywriter on March 28th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Spreading news through social media is much better and profitable than news channels. At least we know that someone we know and trust has recommended it on twitter, digg etc.

 
TonyB on April 1st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Hi Everyone,
I have a carpet cleaning business in Houston,TX that was doing pretty good until the economy went bad, and with it my clientele. I have a website for the business but I dont
know what I have to do the get it to show up in a search. Right now it’s somewhere in the yahoo/google netherworld (LOL).

Is there someone on here that can give me some insight or know of anyone that coud give me insight on how I can get my local website on the front
page of a Yahoo or Google search to increase my business without it costing me 5 or 10k $$$? If so please share with me.

I thank you and my hungry over-eating children thank you.

thanks,

Gyutae Park on April 3rd, 2009

Tony,
Contact me (via my contact page) and we can go over a few strategies on how you can get more exposure online for your business.

 
 
wisdom teeth removal on April 2nd, 2009

I hadn’t heard of yahoo buzz. Thanks for the tips.

Gyutae Park on April 3rd, 2009

Yahoo Buzz is mostly good for celebrity names and movies – that’s what people usually search for most overall.

Geld Lenen on November 5th, 2009

Don’t forget xRank of Bing.com. Also very good for celebs.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Nate at Plasticprinters on April 6th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great tips, wow. I think i’ll try the twitter one right now! I’ve used trends before but usually do before I start a website or something to make sure my keywords are correct.

 
Waterhog on April 9th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks man i hadn’t heard of a couple of these, should prove very helpful.

 
PalmPreReviewer on May 1st, 2009

Another gem of a post…

Raza Imam
“a die-hard Blackberry user with a soft spot for the Palm Pre”

 

Well, social media is one way to discover those hot topics but most of the time it might not be that very related to your blog when you have one. So one other way in discovering great topics would be to read as much blogs that would be related to your blog!

 
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