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Getting Global Insight on Trends from Search

I2m_googletrends Since websites have become primary information sources about companies and products in the late 90s, integrated marketing teams have been using web analytics to mine data about users and translate this into trend information and ammunition for testing the usability of websites.  One metric in particular that almost all marketing teams pay attention to are the key search terms people are using to get to their site.  In part, this drives the creation of a search marketing strategy.  With Google’s recent launch (covered in Google Blogoscoped) of Google Trends – the ability to mine consumer preferences and understand motivations is getting better, and moving beyond just web analytics.  For years, I have been using Overture’s search suggestion tool – a relatively stripped down and outdated, but highly useful, tool for measuring search volume of phrases.  Unfortunately, the tool is limited to using historical data, not accounting for any volume spikes due to current events. 

With Google Trends, you can not only view real time search phrase volume (and compare it to news volume), you can also get a geographic snapshot of where this volume is coming from.  Some interesting data I was able to mine instantly from the system included:

  • In New Zealand, searches for "Coke" were far higher than "Pepsi", whereas in India, the opposite was true (see graph)
  • Philadelphia was the region with the highest volume of searches with "cancer" as a keyword (see graph)
  • Conversation online about the HD-DVD standard is consistently higher than Blu-Ray (see graph)
  • Lima, Peru is the only media market where "radio" beat "internet" and "tv" for search volume (see graph)
  • Search volume for "Wikis" is growing faster than for "podcasts" (see graph)

Just like the free Blogpulse tool, it’s a great way to add relevant and impressive data charts to any presentation.  Not to mention one of the few interesting online tools able to offer global consumer insight.  This should be a highly valuable resource for anyone in marketing, especially those with global brand responsibilities.

2 thoughts on “Getting Global Insight on Trends from Search”

  1. One of the flaws with tools like this is that users of search engines often search using odd phrases or mispelled words. For example, are you sure “blu ray” is getting less coverage than “hd dvd”? Or maybe folks are typing in “blue ray”? The trend gets much closer if you bundle “blu ray” and “blue ray” together.

    Tools like this are good fun, but it’s tough to know whether you are viewing real trend data or quirks in the way people search.

  2. Todd,

    Great point – user search behaviour is often not perfect, and spotting trends in search means taking this into account. Another common spoiler is multiple meanings for terms, such as “Intel.” Every search I do for the company means I have to consider that it will also count all the political blogs using the term as a short form for “intelligence.” I suppose no matter how innovative the tool, there will always be a need for some level of intelligent analysis.


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