Google Trends launches

Paul Boag

If you are a keyword addict or a stats junky then Google has just released your latest fix; Google Trends. This interesting little tool allows you to track the searches on a particular keyword.

Although still in development, Google Trends has the potential to be a useful application for marketers, especially those that track online trends or run Adword campaigns.

How it works

Fundamentally the idea is very simple. You go along to Google Trends and carry out a search in the same way as you would on the Google homepage. However instead of being returned a set of results you get a graph showing the search volume on your phrase. It is also possible to compare multiple search phases on the same graph by separating them with a comma when searching.

Why the service is useful

This is obviously a useful tool for those wishing to track online interest in a particular set of keywords. The graph produced shows the peaks and troughs of search activity and this can be compared with site stats to explain fluctuation in traffic to your site. Google even overlay related news stories in an attempt to explain what may have caused the peak in interest on a particular search term.

However, what is more interesting to me is that this service plugs a gap in Google Adwords. Google Adwords provides information on the number of times your ad is displayed (impressions) and the number of click throughs, but it doesn’t provide any information on the number of searches being carried out. Google Trends allows you to explain fluctuations in your Adword campaigns as well as potentially identify times when you might wish to increase (or decrease) your daily spend.

Not without its problems

Unfortunately this is still very much a work in progress and of only limited use at the moment.

The most significant problem is with the available data. There currently only seems to be data for the broader search terms. For example a search on "web design" returns information while a search on "web design podcasts" does not. It is the trends on these specific keywords that can make or break a successful Adword campaign and so the absence of data here is disappointing.

A second problem is the limited ability to filter by region. For example it is impossible to see only searches done in the United Kingdom or the States. Obviously this will make the results almost meaningless if you are focused on a specific regional market.

My final problem is that it doesn’t offer any concrete numbers. So although you can get an impression of overall trends it doesn’t give you an indication of the specific numbers of searches done.

My verdict

My overall impression is that although Google Trends has potential to be a useful tool for the hardcore marketer it has yet to fulfil that potential. If you fall into that category then you are better off sticking with Wordtracker that provides much more specific information on search terms.