Hot trends is not simply the most popular search. First of all it covers more than the Web search — it covers Web, News, and Google Blog searches. Second is that Google Trends doesn’t list the most popular searches, it lists the searches that are deviating the most from normal. Ones with “buzz”, I suppose. The trends product lists the top 100 searches in plain text, which is a little boring next to, say, Digg City.
Anyway, you’ll get a list of the hottest searches for a particular date. Click on a search and you’ll get additional information about it including “hotness” (mild, spicy, medium, etc. The highest one is volcanic), related searches, peak (in time and graph format) and related search results from Web, News, and Blog search. Sometimes these articles seem too general (especially when the term is really general, like NASCAR) but I was surprised at how often they were spot-on (Hi Five was a good example.)
With the changes to Google’s daterange: syntax, I decided to do a little experimenting. I first changed the trend date to May 15. The hot search that day was Jerry Falwell. Then I went and got the Julian date for May 25, 2007, which is 2454246.
I ran a daterange search on Google: “Jerry Falwell” daterange:0-2454236 . The results came up just over 1.5 million. I then ran another search: “Jerry Falwell” daterange:2454236-2454246 (That is to say, finding “Jerry Falwell” in pages added to Google’s index between May 15 and May 25.) Results were amazing. There were MORE pages for that particular span of ten days — over 1.6 million — than there were for everything up to May 15, 2007. (And the first few pages of results bore that out — they were mostly obituaries, editorials, reactions, blog posts, etc.)
Now, Google STILL doesn’t support the daterange syntax, estimate results are only estimates, and Google has only recently changed the daterange syntax so this might be a flawed experiment. But I would love to create a tool around this. Take a list of hot searches from two weeks ago. For each hot search, run a daterange search for every day since the search was hot, and see if pages with the search term are being added to Google’s index. If they are, count them. Is a search term spawning fifty new pages a day? Is it not getting any community reaction at all? Is it a little cultural puffball, or a trend?
Go further and do text-analysis on the found pages. What do you see? Are there words/topics that are appear consistently on those pages? Are they on the cultural radar yet? Have you SPOTTED SOMETHING?
Oh, for more time or more mad programming skillz….
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