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Google Trends: Topic vs. Search Term

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hey everyone,

I am fairly mew with Google Trends and have a relatively difficult/technical question about the results.
So when I am searching for a topic that has various names or multiple meanings, such as PlayStation, I can select the category and Google Trends will filter out all of the irrelevant results and bring back all of the results for that search term. Let's say we want to find the relative interest level of the PlayStation 4, we can decide to select the topic and then Google's algorithm will understand the topic and bring back results for PlayStation 4 as well as PS4 and many other related search terms (as a search term PlayStation 4 will only bring back results for that exact word/phrase). However I have noted something strange in the results and I cannot figure out why this is happening.

Take a look at the screenshot below, I have searched for PlayStation 4 as a topic and searched for PlayStation + PS4 as a Search Term:

PS4 ST v T.png

We can see that Google does a really good job at bringing back accurate interest levels as a topic since the 2 lines are almost identical. But how can it be that PlayStation 4 + PS4 has a higher relative interest level that the topic at certain points in the graph??? In our case, shouldn't the topic always be higher than the search term since Google's algorithm is bringing in all these related results/spelling mistakes/etc...???? At least the relative interest level of PlayStation 4 as a topic should be higher than the search term PlayStation 4 + PS4 since Google's algorithm is counting both those search terms in the topic. I simply cannot understand why this is happening.


I know that I am being very picky and specific (and that Google Trends is doing a good job) but if anybody knows why this is happening and knows how to explain it, please let me know.


1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Google Trends: Topic vs. Search Term

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi @Berend B,


I think your topic and search term are too close in the meaning and use. If you made the topic gaming consoles or something like that, you would see a more wide-ranging variable. 



Search terms show matches for all terms in your query, in the language given.

  • If you search the term banana, results include searches for terms like "banana" or "banana sandwich."
  • If you specify banana sandwich, results include searches for "banana sandwich" as well as "banana for lunch" and "peanut butter sandwich."


Topics are a group of terms that share the same concept, in any language. Topics display below search terms.

If you search the topic London, your search includes results for topics such as:

  • "capital of the UK"
  • "Londres," which is London in Spanish


Kind Regards,



Google My Business & Google Ads Top Contributor
Google Partner | GYBO Agency | Local Guide | My Profile




Re: Google Trends: Topic vs. Search Term

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi James,

Thank you for your reply. I chose to compare these 2 searches because they are so closely related to each other in order to see how well Google's algorithm for the 'topic' is working.
I want to know why it hasn't picked up on all of the 'ps4' and 'playstation 4' searches, shouldn't they be included in the topic at all times?

I was thinking more along the lines of searches that might include PS4 that are completely unrelated to the gaming console (obviously any search for PlayStation 4 is related to the gaming console but since PS4 is an abbreviation it might also be used elsewhere), for example: maybe there is some technical name for a piece of equipment who's name is something like 'Equipment Name, Model 5689 M PS4 2.0'. Google's algorithm should filter out this search because it is unrelated to the topic 'gaming console'.
Except for this I couldn't think of any other reason why the relative interest level of the search term is higher than the topic. Do you have any ideas?

Kind regards,


Google Trends: Topic vs. Search Term

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭



I've got a parallel question. I totally get what "related topic" covers, however, how does it help w/ my search term? What's the source of that data come from? Do people search for those or does it introduce me to another set of data? What does that mean to me and how should I interpret that along w/ top + trending queries which seem to be so much more clear to me.