Using Google Trends to Discover Profitable Stock Opportunities (Part I)

Using Google Trends, you can research the popularity for a particular keyword and filter the results by location, time frame and category.

As a stock photographer/videographer, the results may be tremendously useful in order to gauge present and potentially future trends. Or alternatively, to identify trends that may be running / have run their course and as a result, not waste your time capturing such concepts. Read on and I’ll explain all in more detail!

Google Trends Goldmine

I HIGHLY recommend using Google Trends for searching for specific and/or related terms. If people are searching for these, chances are they’ll (some will be buyers) be searching for similar keywords on stock sites.

You may gauge the “interest over time” for specific terms:

interest over time

But first what was trending 2017?

Some of these will be more obvious than others…

what was trending
“how to make slime?” lol

Ok, from looking at this list, I can already identify some stock concepts that have come up time and time again, such as Bitcoin, due to its extraordinary rise and subsequent free-fall. Master Steve picked up on this trend well ahead of time and created some useful concepts which are selling regularly as you can see in his article.

Copyright: Steve Heap

Probably a bit late now to start creating these crypto-currency concepts, which takes us to trying to see what is trending in the present and predict the future using this cool tool.

Brainstorming Trending Concepts

Today while sitting at a cafe in Portugal, I was brainstorming and jotting down some potentially trending keywords/phrases that feature regularly in the type of international media that I consume daily. I was also trying to think my best from a buyers’ point of view of the types of sociological concepts they’ll be searching.

I came up with these lucky 13 in alphabetical order:

  • Alt-Right
  • Antifa
  • Brazil corruption (Lava Jato)
  • Brexit
  • Hipster
  • Iran war
  • Metoo
  • Opioid Addiction 
  • Overtourism / Over-tourism / Mass-tourism
  • Plastic in the Ocean
  • Refugee Crisis
  • Trade Tariffs
  • Transgender

Then I looked at each one of those terms on Google Trends in detail.

Alt-Right (Alternative Right-Wing)


If you’re not familiar with this cultural-war term, it’s come into fruition following the rise of Trumpism, in particular “The Unite the Right rally”, also known as the Charlottesville rally in August 11 and 12, 2017. Wikipedia defines the “Alt-Right” as:

“The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loosely-connected and somewhat ill-defined grouping of white supremacists/white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, neo-Confederates, Holocaust deniers, and other far-right fringe hate groups”

Google Trends Results for Web Searches = Alt-Right

Alt right
Unsurprisingly, search terms for “Alt-Right” peaked on the week following the Charlottesville Riot, although has consecutively dropped since suggesting this may have run its course
Friendly members of Britain’s English Defence League (“Alt-Right”) in a rally in Birmingham – May 2017

Antifa (Anti-Fascist)


On the opposite end of the Alt-Right lies Antifa, which is defined by Wikipedia as:

“The Antifa movement is a conglomeration of left wing autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist militant groups in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, harassing those whom they identify as fascists, racists or right wing extremists.”

Antifa demonstrations in Paris – June 2018

Google Trends results for Web searches = Antifa

A close look at the date-range and unsurprisingly, results peaked at the same week as “Alt-Right” and has also dropped considerably in interest over time

Brazil Corruption (Lava Jato)


Following the world’s biggest corruption scandal involving kick-back schemes at the Brazilian-oil-giant, Petrobras, Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) since March 2014, is an ongoing criminal investigation being carried out by the Federal Police of Brazil.

A man dressed up as ex- Brazilian President, Lula in jail

Google Trends results for Web Searches = Brazil Corruption

Search results peaked around June 2014, some three months after the start of the corruption investigation. Interestingly, search results have held steady until today suggesting this may be a profitable theme to explore

Google Trends results for Web searches = Lava Jato

lava jato
A closer look at “Lava Jato” only at users located in Brazil, suggests this is a popular search term. The latest peak in March/April 2018 may have been caused in large part with the arrest  and subsequent imprisonment of ex-President, Lula in the Lava Jato investigations



The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union is the biggest political story since the fall of the Berlin Wall and break-up of the Soviet Union. The UK will officially leave the EU on March 29, 2019 and negotiations are painfully ongoing.


Google Trends results for Web searches = Brexit

Unsurprisingly, web searches for “Brexit” peaked in June 2016 just before and after the referendum. I expect interest in this theme to remain strong for the foreseeable future



Difficult to define, but the likes of Wikipedia tried their best:

“Members of the subculture typically do not self-identify as hipsters, and the word hipster is often used as a pejorative to describe someone who is pretentious or overly trendy, or as a stereotypical term that has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.”

Milanese hipster (?)

Google Trends results for Web searches = Hipster

Interest peaked around 2012-14 and has since dramatically fallen. Looks like this trend is dying, along with those long beards and man-buns…but what has taken over?

Iran War


Tensions between the West and Iran hasn’t been this bad for decades. The US and its allies (including Israel) are basically in a proxy-war in Syria against Iran. Anyway…

Google Trends results for Web searches = Iran War

iran war
Seems like a there’s a massive potential for an explosion here, pun intended

Metoo / Me too


“The Me Too movement with many local/international alternatives is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Wall of Dolls protest in Milan, Italy’s Navigli district protesting against female physical and sexual violence, throughout the world

Google Trends results for Web searches = Metoo 

Interestingly, web searches for “metoo” peaked in Oct 2017 during the height of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. It has since tapered off but still looks to be trending

Opioid Addiction


I wrote an article about the opioid addiction in the US about a year ago, with a focus on creating stock photos to highlight this trend.

Drugs mix

Google Trends results for Web searches = Opioid Addiction

As you can see above, searches peaked in mid October-2017 just when the Trump administration declared it a “health emergency”. Since, interest has remained steady with a tendency to spike up



Back in the olden days before EasyJet and RyanAir, international travel was considerably more expensive. In addition to costs of booking a hotel in the city centre, whereas one can now pay a fraction of the price for a more comfortable apartment via sites such as Airbnb.

Overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. Think of Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik. If you’ve been to any of those locations, particularly during peak season you know exactly the hell it is! It must be worst for residents who feel like they’re being priced out due to rising costs of living, pollution and a lower standard of life. Local authorities, with the pressure of local residents, have even taken measures to try to reduce what is considered “anti-social behaviour”, such as the latest in Florence, Italy, where tourists may be fined for eating on the historic streets.

Rows of tourist buses in Belem near Lisbon, Portugal. This image may be used to illustrate an article about overtourism in Lisbon

Google Trends results for Web searches = Overtourism

We’re onto a winner here and Google Trends is even forecasting a rise in these search terms. Get busy and capture these types of images related to overtourism in your next holiday! I mean look at these images the Guardian picked up on Alamy and Getty to highlight the theme of overtourism. They look like snapshots but are useful!

Plastic in the Ocean


“Plastics. Right now an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic – everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads – end up in our oceans each year. … Our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup and the effects on ocean life are chilling.” – Source: Greenpeace

Polluted lake water in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Google Trends results for Web Searches = Plastic in the Ocean

plastic ocean
Wtf are we doing to our planet?! This unfortunately will be a theme that will be pertinent for the next generations…

Refugee Crisis


“The European migrant crisis, or the European refugee crisis, is a term given to a period beginning in 2015 when rising numbers of people arrived in the European Union, travelling across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe.”

Google Trends results for Web searches = Refugee Crisis

refugee crisis
The height of the crisis was in September 2015 when there was a mass movement of displaced persons predominately from Syria heading towards Central Europe. This is highlighted by a peak in search terms for “refugee crisis”, above
Refugees in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, September 2015 – my best selling image

Trade Tariffs


Unpredictable Trump, with his “America First” policy is causing uncertainty in international markets with his threats to introduce (further) trade tariffs, particularly aimed at China, potentially starting a trade war. Most recently, Turkey has plunged into a recession in large part caused by a trade-spat between Turkey and the US.

Image that may easily be picked up to highlight concepts related to commerce, logistics and even the ongoing trade wars

Google Trends results for Web searches = Trade Tariffs

trade tarrif
Definitely a hot topic with huge potential upside!



In these cultural wars, particularly in the US, the topic of gender has recently become highly-debated, with various definitions of what it means to legally be one sex or another, or a hybrid. It’s complicated to say the least.

gay pride6
Gender is…complicated…

Google Trends results for Web searches = Transgender

Web searches in the US peaked in July 2017 with strong interest during the past 5 years, suggesting a potentially profitable concept to invest time/energy

How do use such information?

Well, from looking at the above data, I can safely focus on the following 6 themes (green) and ditch 5 others (red). Two (orange) themes appear to be neutral. Here’s the list:

  • Alt-Right
  • Antifa
  • Brazil corruption (Lava Jato)
  • Brexit
  • Hipster
  • Iran war
  • Metoo 
  • Overtourism / Over-tourism / Mass-tourism*
  • Opioid Addiction
  • Plastic in the Ocean*
  • Refugee Crisis
  • Trade Tariffs
  • Transgender

*In particular, it seems that there’s strong potential on “Plastic in the Ocean” and “Overtourism”, which are concepts that are relatively easy to capture, especially as editorials.

By identifying the theme of “Plastic in the Oceans”, I’ll be sure to capture more of these types of images as I have done in this beach in Zandvoort, Netherlands

Update Sept 10 – Using Wikipedia Analytics

I’ve just received an email from Lancelot Lacharte, who has given me some interesting insight. Lancelot is interested in “how to build and use automation workflows (he’s a Python developer) to create images and target the long tail of stock searches”. I’ve quoted him:

“You mentioned using Google Trends to understand which topics are hot. As you may now, Google Trends only shows relative data, as in “this concept is hotter than it used to be” for example. It’s essentially not possible to compare topics between themselves or at least, it’s not what Google Trends will tell you.
Here’s my hot tip:
If you want to know which topic are the most searched, instead you look into Wikipedia analytics! You can find stats about Wikipedia pageviews on
Thanks for the tip, Lancelot!

I need to take some time to digest all this new information and see if it’s a worthwhile alternative/supplement to Google Trends. Lastly, need to keep in mind that information overload can also be detrimental leading to analysis paralysis!


Agencies publish these sorts of trend analysis all the time but I find them hit-or-miss, with loads just stating the obvious like we’re in September and Halloween is coming up, duh! So I find it best, if you have the time/willingness, to do your own research.

Hope you’ve found this post useful, I sure have for my own work! I’d like to explore this theme further and perhaps use different cities as examples that may be trending or un-trending. Would this be something that may interest you?

Looks like London is winning by a mile!

I’ve taken a long time to put together this data and I would appreciate if you like/share/comment. Thanks in advance!

For Part II on using Google Trends, click here.

Last but not least, I recently collaborated with Dustin Hall from My Hustle (YouTube), where I discussed my Top 5 Stock Photography tips when going on holidays, check it out (apologies in advance about the harsh back-lighting)!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

Check out my new photo review service, where I’ll help take your images to the next level and get them sold regularly!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.