I’ve occasionally used the trending tool from IceRocket, but hadn’t until lately noticed that Google itself has a very useful trending tool. Have you tried it? It’s at http://www.google.com/trends .
The trends are now updating daily which means even more fun. Of course you can just search for single items at a time, but the real fun is searching for multiple search queries at a time to see how they trend out. For example I might want to search for stuffing, potatoes, “green beans” (separate the searches you want to trend with commas.)
From this search you’ll see that green beans get no love. Um, you’ll ALSO get a graph showing the three search terms and how hot they were over the last four years (spikes each November.) You can drop the graph down as small as 30 days if you want, or focus on specific years (or the last 20 months.) You’ll also get a breakdown of which searches were most popular where in smaller graphs underneath the main graph.
The only aspect of this I find annoying is the set of news search results to the right of the graph. They relate to the searches and are mapped out on the graph (so you can see if they correlate to spikes, etc.) What’s annoying is that when I tried to actually go to these news stories, I found many of them had expired or were behind a paywall. Perhaps the stories can be pulled from Google’s News Archive service.
I want to find some of those “what’s popular” sites and see if I can pipe the keywords/tags out into Google Trends results (by hacking a results page URL that starts with http://www.google.com/trends?.) I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting.