Our go-to search listening tools

We’re often asked by brands about the search listening tools we use to get to customer insights. So, here are our current top of the pops.

1. Google Autocomplete (aka Google Suggest)

What is it?

In the words of Google, “Autocomplete is a feature within Google Search designed to make it faster to complete searches that you’re beginning to type.”

Start typing words into Google, and Autocomplete will kick in with predictions around what it thinks you might be looking for. And it looks a little something like this:

How does it work?

Google looks at the real searches to inform Autocomplete’s predictions. It shows both popular and trending searches relevant to the characters that you’ve entered, as well as searches related to your location and previous searches.

Why we love it.

It’s fast and free: Google autocomplete is a great way to get ad hoc, quick-fire insights when time is tight. And who doesn’t love a freebie, right?

It’s super easy to use: You’re literally already using it every single day. There are zero barriers to cracking on and giving it a go. Which means it’s easy to play and unearth some real gems of otherwise hidden insight.

It’s fun: As well as some incredibly valuable, serious insights, we frequently stumble across the most random oddities using Autocomplete. They’re often quirky, funny or plain eccentric, but we’ve also planned out some great campaigns on the back of these more light hearted searches.


What is it? is a web-based tool (so there’s no software to install!) that visualises Google Autocomplete results. It lets you see all the what questions and queries your consumers are searching for in Google around a particular term and packages it all up in a free report.

How does it work? scrapes and collates Google’s Autocomplete for any seed keyword or phrase you enter. It displays the data gathered in a couple of different ways, through visualisations and through lists. There’s a free, limited use version packed with valuable stuff, and an all-you can eat Pro version available too.

Why we love it

Firstly, a disclaimer. We’re from the same business as the people behind The tool was actually launched by one of our developers as a side project, and since then has taken on a life of its own with thousands of people using it around the world. We actually launched Search Listening because built up such a tremendous following, and so many people wanted to learn more about using the tool.

We’ve been using since the very day it launched for ongoing search monitoring and there are a tonne of reasons why we love it.

The simple, useful visualisations: splits the data gathered about your seed term into questions, prepositions and comparisons, and visualises each as a wheel. A super useful feature of the wheels is the ability to click on any term and see what the Google results page looks like; so who’s ranking and with what content.

It shows you every single search related to your seed term: captures all the alphabetical variations of your seed term, listed out in order.

You can export everything: Unlike Autocomplete, lets you download images of the wheels, branches of the wheels and there’s an option to download data as a CSV. This is great if you want to do further analysis; sorting, filtering, making graphs or wordclouds. 

Get heaps of valuable insight for free: All those questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabetical analysis and even related terms and different language analysis are available totally free, but there is a limit on how many searches you can perform a day.

The Pro version: For people who want to level up, the Pro version lets you run searches all day long, get reports by region, compare results from different dates, and customise and edit the data.

The Seeker: The face of Some people love him and some people hate him! If you find him distracting, you can click anywhere on the background and he’ll pause.

OK, we’ll stop now.

3. Google Trends

What is it?

Google Trends allows you to see the topics people are—or aren’t—searching for, almost in real time. It shows what’s trending across Google Search, Google News and YouTube.

How does it work?

Only a percentage of searches are used to compile Trends data. Google adjusts the data to make comparisons easier, essentially ironing issues that could skew the trends data (e.g. stopping places with the highest search volumes from always being ranked the highest). It then maps the resulting data on a scale of 1 – 100 to show the topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.

Why we love it.

It’s quick and easy to use: And a bit addictive. You can explore and compare any topic that the world is searching for simply by typing it into the explore bar.

The Featured insights: At the top of the new Google Trends homepage are featured insights curated to highlight interesting data patterns or trends. By clicking a topic under “Stories trending now,” you can access additional data including the most relevant articles, interest over time, interest by region, trending queries, and related topics.

4. Buzzsumo

What is it?

Just like the search engine results pages, Buzzsumo helps you to understand who your online content competitors are (hint: they’re not always the same as your product / service competitors). It also shows you what content your audience finds valuable and relevant.

How does it work?

Where Google lets you see which content around a given topic is performing best from an SEO perspective, Buzzsumo shows you how competitive search terms are and which content around through terms people are sharing the most online. There’s a limited free version of the tool and various paid plans which free up more features.

Why we love it

Buzzsumo helps you to answer questions you’ve discovered in search listening in the right way. Put content-driven keywords from Google Suggest or into Buzzsumo and it will return a list of the most shared content currently available around that topic.

The tool ranks existing content by the total number of total shares each piece has received, as well as breaking this down by social network. You can also explore the backlinks the content has driven and who has shared the content on Twitter.

As well as keywords, you can run searches around domains in Buzzsumo to get an understanding of the most shared content on that domain. This is useful for insights about how well your own content is landing with your audience, plus it can give you useful competitor insights too.