Oddly enough, I stumbled across this one while reading Steve Rushin’s Air and Space column in the 7/17 issue of Sports Illustrated. Google seems to have so many little tools and applets that it’s hard for one person to test-drive them all. If you haven’t looked at Google Trends though, you need to.
Curious about how often a phrase is searched for on Google? Just type it into Google Trends and see. Although the graphs don’t show actual numbers, they do shed light on trends and whether something is gaining or losing popularity. Things really get interesting when you compare multiple searches, which you can do by separating them with commas in the text box.
A quick search on “book publishing” shows a declining trend line, meaning there have been fewer searches for it recently than there were in 2004 and 2005. Add “ebooks” to the search and you’ll see that it runs parallel to the “book publishing” one, but it sits much higher on the scale, meaning the number of searches has declined since 2004/2005, but it’s still a much more popular search term than “book publishing”. Of course, some people might search for “e-books” rather than “ebooks”. If you add that to the search list you’ll see something in between “book publishing” and “ebooks”.
The combinations are endless, of course, but it’s an interesting tool to gauge trends. On top of all that, Google also provides information on the top cities, regions and languages for each search phrase. The #1 city searching for “book publishing”? New York. How about “ebooks”? The top 6 cities are in India (same for “e-books”).
You’ll have to judge whether there’s anything useful for you or your job in all this. I tend to think I’ll get a lot of use out of Google Trends going forward though.