Today, I was asked about making use of trending topics in Google. Specifically, the charge was to understand which topics surrounding healthcare and its related topics, healthcare reform, insurance reform, “Obamacare” among others, were trending up and down. The question was asked as part of a larger question, “how can we use Google Analytics to figure this out?”
For many years, Google has provided insight into its proprietary data – each and every one of those seemingly innocuous queries you and I send it every day – into both useful and fun formats, Google Zeitgeist and Google Trends. However, it’s important to note that this is an area distinct from web analytics, a space in which Google also has been a dominant player since acquiring Urchin in 2006 and rebranding its product Google Analytics. Analytics, hands down, has become a de facto standard in analyzing traffic for specific sites, and can provide rich data on trending terms that get people to those sites. For a greater macro view, we turn to Google Trends.
Taking Trends a step further (as Google always does), Google released Google Insights for Search as a beta offering. It is an extremely robust way to compare different search terms (with the same level of precision one can use when making any Google query) and dive deeply into trends by geography and over time. For example, I threw this set of search terms at it.
The numbers shown under “Totals” are indeed relative. All measures of impact are indicated on a scale from 0-100 relative to the item that has the most impact. In this case, “healthcare reform” is far more prevalent than the other terms, so it is drowing them out in terms of resolution.