Google Trends, analyzed

Dave points to one of the announcements from Google Press Day today: Google Trends. The publicly facing application shows trending for search terms over several years, and compares it to the volume of news items that contain the search terms.

When I was working on online BI at Microsoft, we had an internal application very much like this that I helped launch for search analysis. The bells and whistles were different but the display and the idea were the same: by looking at what people are searching for, you can gauge the popularity of a concept.

Dave fell into a trap that we discovered, too: neglecting to check synonyms when comparing the popularity of concepts. While RSS beats podcasting and blogs in the sample search Dave did, the term blog (singular) handily beats RSS and podcast.

So synonyms are obviously one issue. According to the About page, you can address this by grouping terms together, but I couldn’t make this work. Bug? Overall volume is another issue. Did you notice that the y-axis isn’t labeled?

But it’s still fun—particularly when you can take advantage of common names to tell a good joke. Hey ma, I’m bigger than Dave!