Google Trends Search Volume Explained

by Alison Zeller
October 6, 2023

Google Trends is a top tool for keyword research, but getting actual search volume data from the platform is impossible.

If you need exact search volume numbers to inform your business decisions, make sure to use a tool that takes you beyond the data from Google Trends.

Keep reading to see exactly which types of data you can pull from Google Trends and where you can find reliable search volume data.

How to See Search Volume in Google Trends

After you enter a keyword in Google Trends, you’ll see an “interest over time” graph.

Google Trends data for the keyword “pickleball.”

The date range runs along the X axis and the Y axis shows numbers from 0 to 100 to indicate search interest.

These numbers are a measure of search volume, but this is relative search volume instead of absolute search volume.

What Does the Relative Search Volume Index Mean in Google Trends?

Google Trends doesn’t show actual search volume numbers. Instead, they’re providing a relative scale. A measurement of 0 means no interest and 100 means max popularity.

For example, a measure of 25 would mean the term had one-quarter of the search volume on that date compared to its peak popularity.

These charts can be helpful for glancing at keywords or comparing interest over time, but they don’t provide exact search volume data.

For example, a Google Trends search for “pickleball paddle” shows that the term grew in popularity between January and May of 2023. According to Google’s relative search volume, the keyword went from 45 to 100 during that time.

But the actual search volume remains a mystery.

Google Trends search volume data for “pickleball paddle.”

The term could’ve had 100 searches at its peak or it could’ve had 1,000 searches. That’s a huge swing, but with Google Trends, you don’t have access to that data.

What Does "Breakout" Mean in Google Trends?

Another search volume measurement provided by Google Trends is what’s referred to as “breakout” queries and topics.

Google Trends provides “breakout” keywords and topics for pickleball.

These “breakout” topics and keywords have recently experienced a large increase in search volume, more than 5,000%. But again, this isn’t specific search volume data. It’s simply a relative measurement.

Take one “breakout” example from above: Vatic Pro (a brand of pickleball paddles).

Looking at that keyword in Google Trends, you see that search volume is climbing. In fact, it recently reached peak popularity. What you don’t know are the actual numbers behind that relative scale. Are there 200 searches for this keyword or are there 2,000 searches?

Google Trends data for “Vatic Pro.”

How to Get Absolute Search Volume Using Exploding Topics

Unlike Google Trends, Exploding Topics gives you real search volume numbers. This is actual data that can guide your decision-making and give you insight into the keywords that are most important.

Simply search for a keyword in Exploding Topics, and you’ll be brought to a chart that shows a date range and actual search volume data.

For example, let’s follow the pickleball theme and look at a chart from Exploding Topics.

Exploding Topics data for “pickleball paddle” shows absolute search volume.

This chart shows the absolute search volume for the keyword for the previous month: 201k.

If you hover your cursor over the chart, you can pick any month and see the search volume. For example, in August 2021, search volume was 46.9k.

Search volume data from August 2021.

Exploding Topics also has a way to call out keywords that are growing significantly. They’re labeled as “exploding.”

And this is an intelligent label. These keywords have actually been vetted by a human to make sure they’re actual trends and not just flash-in-the-pan fads.

In the Exploding Topics Pro database, you can use a simple drop-down menu to find all of the “exploding” keywords in a category.

The Exploding Topics Pro database makes it easy to find “exploding” topics.


Finding the best keywords for your niche can be tricky.

Utilizing a tool like Google Trends can give you insight into a keyword’s general performance over time, but it won’t give you the actual search volume data you need.

In order to find the keywords that are most likely to make an impact, you need to have access to the absolute search volume data.

Exploding Topics offers vetted keyword trends and absolute search volume data so you can make smart decisions.