Google announced in a blog post this week new features for its Google Insights for Search, available at http://www.google.com/insights/search/. The new features include lots more languages (a total of 39!) and even a forecasting feature.
Have you used Google Insights for Search? You can enter one or more search terms, specify factors like a time range, type of search (news, images, Web, etc.) and geographic area of the world, and Google will give you a graph of how much that search has been requested over time, along with pointers to news stories about your query and information on the search’s popularity in different geographic areas. Take a look at an example screenshot I did for the search recycling.
You’ll see that there’s a graph here showing the activity for the search query “recycling” since 2004. But if you’ll look closely you’ll see that the solid line ends in a dotted line as the Google Insights tool attempts to guess how popular a query will be until 2011. The blog mentions that this forecasting tool is for “some queries” but in my testing it seems like even more obscure queries got a forecast. Fairly recent trending topics like crasher squirrel, however, appear less likely to get a trend line, and I did find some queries that didn’t get a forecast even though they had a long history in the search trend graph.
Google Insights also has an animated map now! If you look a little further down on the page, you’ll see a map that shows interest in a particular search query by country. If you look at the bottom of the map there’s also a link that will animate the map to show you the search volume for a query changes in different countries over time.
If you find you like the information you’re finding with this Google feature, there are several things you can do with it. You can embed the graphs. You can use a module to add a chart to iGoogle. You can download a CSV of the data.
While I thought the forecast part of Insight was interesting, I never found a case where it was radical — where it indicated that a query was really going to take off like a rocket or that it would drop off a cliff. Either one of those cases would have made me more interested in watching that query. Instead I use Google Insights for Search to get a history of a query — did a search term have a particular time when it really took off? What were the search results for it right before then? Google Insight also has lists of related topic and related rising searches. Sometimes these help me decide how I want to refine a query, especially when using alert services.