Google Trends was reborn a year ago this month and it has been continually tweaked and improved over the intervening 12 months, with a collection of the biggest additions being collated by WebProNews’ Zach Walton.

This tool effectively provides a way for anyone to see which particular search topics are hot at a given moment in time, not only in the wider scheme of the web but also in terms of how much search activity in a particular area has increased.

While those interested in the underpinnings of search engines and the way the online hive mind operates will get a kick out of using Google Trends casually and there are certainly ways to take advantage of it for the purposes of SEO.

Tens of thousands of webmasters need to generate fresh content on a regular basis to remain buoyant in the organic search rankings, because Google is particularly sensitive to quality signals in this area. However, this can be a big ask, because keeping content interesting, relevant and timely is tough.

Thankfully, with Google Trends it is simple to see what people are searching for and talking about in real time, with these fluctuations in the popularity of certain topics and keywords allowing site owners to craft content that will engage visitors, increase clicks and, ideally, drive conversions and shares.

In the early summer of 2013, an update for Google Trends augmented the Top Chart feature with a trending function, looking not only at the most influential and popular regional searches, but also showing how certain trends are waxing and waning over time, across a variety of categories.

The difference between the Top Chart and the Trending Top Chart is significant, because the former deals with overall performance, while the latter looks at how search activity has shifted in the short term and could help to identify breakout keywords and areas which are worth targeting over specific periods.

This is clearly something that has seasonal variations at its core, but will also be impacted by breaking stories in the media. If you want to see which of the recently unveiled smartphones is being talked about and searched for most frequently, this tool might be the best way to assess the state of affairs and allow you to target content accordingly.

Google recently revealed that it will be updating other elements of Trends, including the Explore page, boosting the ability to allow different search topics to play off against one another, as they compete for supremacy. Some minor interface alterations, all in the name of consistency across products, have been made.

There is a wide range of tools which webmasters can use to improve SEO, although this can mean that some sources of information are conflicting and working out the most effective strategy becomes an issue. Over time it will be easier to read the ebb and flow of online traffic and target on-site content to address whatever is interesting your audience right now.