Google has launched a new tool called Google Trends that allows you to look at the numbers of people searching on a particular term over time. You can compare results for different search terms and even narrow results by geography.
It is an absolute gift for research and analysis work around brands or issues, coming up with story angles .
Remember how the most repeated and least useful way to open a feature (by someone had obviously had difficulty coming up with a good angle for the thing) was "A search on Google reveals over XX million entries on the web for stress / work-life / balance / convergence / lazy writing...". It was the copywriting equivalent of an novel that begins "The writer sat at his desk with his head in his hands. his mind was blank. He thought writer's block just happened to other people...".
Well there's no excuse now. In a few topical searches today I came up with these fresh angles based on top results by country...
Theo Walcott: Someone in Sweden was very interested in young football player called Theo Walcott recently.
Googling Google: India leads the world for results about Google (the US is 9th).
Prezza: People suddenly became very interested in John Prescott last year.
Or, treating search as a currency of interest, you can see that after brief initial interest, people in the UK are still more interested in Tony Blair than David Cameron, seemingly by a factor of two-to-one,
As you can see, the results also include a tracker for news so it's possible to see where a media attention has prompted a lot of searching. I sense that the news function is not completely accurate, but nevertheless (like a lot of web analysis tools) getting an approximation of what's happened online can still be enough to give you some useful insights. Think of it as taking relatively good samples of what's out there.
What would make it even more useful would be nicking a couple of features from Blogpulse:
- Being able to click on the graph and see the results for that day.
The ability to compare two search terms on the same graph.
- A "live web" version that lets you see trends in real-time for blogs and news sites.
But hey, it's free. Another brilliant innovation from Google.