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Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity

Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, once stated, It's difficult to imagine the power that you're going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.” The collection of big data online has increasingly played a vital role in analyzing consumer trends and popularity; and as of 2015, this data became even more accessible, thanks to Google Trends.

Google Trends allows the general public to access the world’s largest real-time datasets, enabling the average user to seek out data about what’s most searched and what’s most popular. This data is particularly useful to a marketer, who can analyze information for any respective industries.


Google Trends can be applied to the student housing industry in a variety of ways and can help in answering questions like:


  • When are students searching online for student housing most?
  • What geographic areas have the highest search volume for student housing?
  • What other topics related to student housing are users searching for?


To showcase how Google Trends can be utilized to gather information about student housing, we’ve provided a few different search query examples.

1. Determine the most popular states and provinces for student housing search queries:

The graphs below show search data for ‘student housing’ from April 2016 – April 2017 for both the United States and Canada.

For the United States, the top 5 states were Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, Idaho and Colorado (honorable mentions to Montana and Rhode Island, who were a point or two behind Colorado).



For Canada, the top 5 provinces were Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Quebec. This makes sense since the other provinces have far fewer college and universities, meaning the search interest for student housing would be significantly lower.



We can narrow down our results further into specific markets. For example, in Ontario, the cities with the highest search interest in student housing were Kingston, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto.



We can also broaden our timeline by looking at the past five years, instead of one year of data only. Notice that the top cities are slightly different, consisting of Kingston, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, and Ottawa.



2. Determine peak time periods for student housing search queries: 

Any savvy student housing marketer knows that the volume and popularity of student housing search queries will largely coincide with academic term start dates.


The first graph below of the US covers a period of 5 years. We consistently see a major spike in popularity in the US for mid-to-late-August, likely attributed to last-minute student searches. We can also see that there is consistently a major drop in search popularity from September to November, as most students have secured their housing for the year and this marks the beginning of the fall term. In April, there is consistently a major uptick in student housing search queries also.


The second graph for Canada shows a few subtle differences to the US. Year in and year out, there’s a consistent spike at the beginning of January, but a dip from September to November is shared with the US. Both Canada and the US see a dip in December around Christmas time, as it’s unlikely that many users are thinking about or searching for student housing at this time.




3. Analyze popular related search queries for student housing to determine what students are most commonly searching for on Google in relation to student housing:

It’s important to pay attention to how students search for housing and what terminology they are using in search engines. The ‘Related Queries’ section in Google Trends can help unveil exactly what students are typing into Google as they search for off-campus accommodations.


The first image below shows the top related student housing queries in Canada, which coincidentally also demonstrates which areas are the most popular – Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, McMaster (Hamilton), Queens (Kingston) and Guelph.


The same findings apply to the United States by the image below, although their search queries are a little bit different than in Canada. Only three popular regional search queries show up – New York City, UC Davis and CSUN (Los Angeles).


Overall, Google Trends is a great tool that student housing marketers should utilize to gather a variety of research and data relating to the popularity of specific accommodation search queries, as well as to determine regional popularity and potential demand for student housing. Try this free tool yourself at https://trends.google.com/trends.  

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