Wednesday, May 24, 2006


The Google Search Engine now has technology that offers public speakers valuable help in connecting with their audience.

Google Trends provides a function whereby you can type in a topic and discover in what regions of the world this word has been searched the most and what topics hold greatest interest. The search can be narrowed to show in what cities and in what languages people have been Googling for stories and articles on this theme.

To illustrate, type into Google Trends the word ‘sex’ and you will find that Pakistanis head the list of searchers. Type in the word ‘sheep’ and before the results appear you would have already guessed the country where they’ve got the highest number of searchers of woolly stories.

In the search results you are provided with a ‘Trend History’ which is a graph illustrating the number of searches for that word from 2003 to the current time. If you type in ‘Danish Cartoons’ you will discover that this topic was little searched before February 2006 but then there is a spike fueled by the controversy. If you put in two topics and separate them with a comma (gloves,mittens; tea, coffee; God, Jesus) you will get a comparison.

Interestingly enough Ireland is the country where more people are searching with the word ‘lonely’. Is this because Irish Internet users are the loneliest people in the world or because the Irish rock group, ‘Lonely Boys’ is so popular? (This is where the building of great theories on Google Trends has its weaknesses and in About Google Trends they spell out their shortcomings and suggest you don’t go writing your Ph.D dissertation on the basis of Google Trends results!) Type in the word ‘loneliness’ (as distinct from ‘lonely’) and another country leads the list. Type in the word ‘grace’ and before you go applauding the Americans in their search for God’s amazing grace remember that these results include all Google searches for ‘Will and Grace’, ‘Princess Grace’ and other celebrities going by this handle.

One great benefit of Google Trends is the way it lists the most commonly searched articles on a particular topic. Type in the word ‘loneliness’ and these are the top six story titles that have been searched on this topic in recent years:
  1. Executives suffer from loneliness (it’s lonely at the top)
  2. Russell Crowe and his ‘abject loneliness’ (ditto)
  3. The loneliness of being German (is loneliness culturally specific?)
  4. Gene links for loneliness (to what extent is loneliness hereditary?)
  5. Loneliness is linked to blood pressure (loneliness and quality of life)
  6. How dogs aid elderly with loneliness (links between friendship, emotional support, security and loneliness).

    Surely there is good illustrative potential here among the Googledegook.

    Geoff Pound

    Google Trends<>
    About Google Trends <>

    Image: Graph provided in search results of the topic ‘loneliness’.