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Google Trends gives new insight to search behaviour

Google Trends gives new insight to search behaviour

Thursday, June 15, 2006 12:51

Google Trends is one of several new offerings from Google Labs – known as Google’s ‘technology playground’ – where Google showcases its favourite new ideas and offers new technology for trial by users. This new tool provides some fascinating data into the search trends for different terms on Google over the last few years.


Google Trends uses Google’s vast stores of search and user data to give comparisons between the search activity for up to 5 terms over the past 2 years. Examples that are shown by Google include searches for ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ and ‘mothers day’ versus ‘fathers day’, the latter showing distinct spikes of search activity around March and June, as would be expected (but also note different dates for these days around the world).

Although this data is currently in beta form, it is clearly of interest to internet marketers for comparing the search activity of different keywords but also provides an interesting perspective on search trends stretching back to 2004. Drop-down menus are provided for users to easily restrict the data to a particular time frame or region and users can narrow their query by excluding selected keywords using the ‘minus’ sign or restricting results to the exact order of the query using quotation marks, as you would with a normal search query.

Google also illustrates the comparison graph with relevant news stories along the timeline which put the graphs into perspective and allude to the reasons for the peaks and troughs in search activity.

Additional information includes a top 10 ranking system showing the most search activity by cities, regions and languages. This part of the system has already come in for some criticism for inaccuracies and approximations leading to Google Trends being described as ‘interesting and entertaining’ and little more.

One of the key problems to arise ‘ partly in reaction to a recent Sunday Times article – is the location of searches which is still flawed because it is only determined by a user’s IP address which often only reflects the location of the user’s ISP (Internet Service Provider). So if you are a BT broadband user the chances are that Google thinks you live in St Albans (Hertfordshire), and according to the Sunday Times article you live in the most narcissistic town in the UK! Google is well aware of the problems, stating that ‘We hope you find this service interesting and entertaining, but you probably don’t want to write your PhD dissertation based on this information.’

Try Google Trends for yourself – and to read more about this service read the official ‘About Google Trends’ page or if you’d like to discuss the results, please contact us for more details.

This article was written by Web Search Workshop, a search engine optimisation and marketing consultancy for UK business websites. Contact us today for a free assessment of your website.

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