Google’s new search tool could have you a bundle

Days after launching a new service that allows users to see how Google uses their location and browsing history in search results, the search giant has launched a new tool to help users track the popularity of various words and phrases that people type in

Days after launching a new service that allows users to see how Google uses their location and browsing history in search results, the search giant has launched a new tool to help users track the popularity of various words and phrases that people type into Google’s search box.

The free service, called Insights for Search, is an extension of Google Trends, a two-year-old service that reveals hot search terms (in the US only) updated every hour.

(At the time of writing, Raymond Hunter Geisel [who is accused of sending a death threat to Barrack Obama] and Megan Suzanne Vice [who admitted to murder on radio] were the most searched terms).

Insights for Search gives users much more detail than Trends as it allows users to slice the data by category, geographic location and time fames. Not only can marketers and companies figure out which issues are hot, they can also figure how specific items are being searched, by whom and where.

Google gives the example of searching for the word “apple”. Not surprisingly, the most popular search terms relate to the computer giant of the same name – searches such as “Apple iPod” or “Apple iPhone”.

But what if you are an apple grower in Tasmania trying to figure out how to market your product? You can restrict your search to the food and drink category, and then further refine search results only for Australia or even only for Tasmania. Then you can decide if you want to look at searches made from 2004 to the present, or perhaps only in the last 30 days.

Do this and you discover that “apple crumble” and “apple pie” are the hottest search terms – immediately the new advertising campaign for apples is off and running.

Chris Thomas, SmartCompany blogger and head of search company Reseo, says he has been impressed with his early examination of the tool. “We haven’t had a lot of time to play, but certainly what we’ve seen we have really liked.”

He says all companies should get on the site and try to figure out exactly what customers are searching for by using the comparison tool that allows users to compare the effectiveness of two or more terms.

He gives the example of a fencing company trying to figure out which works best. They might compare the terms “fencing contractor”, “paling fence”, “paling fence contractors” and “build a fence” to see what works. He says companies should test plurals and slight variations – everything to nail the best search terms.

Best of all, Insights for Search could mean businesses no longer need to pay up to use the similar keyword tool. “It seems to us as though it could potentially hurt paid tools like KeywordDiscovery or WordTracker,” Thomas says.

Marketers will also use the tool to track and target advertising campaigns. A beer company could, for example, experiment with different versions of a television ad in two states and check the number of resulting searches in each state to see which one is more effective. Or it could use the data to find out where users are searching most actively for “beer” and aim more ads there.

There could even be applications for researchers and economists, who are trying to get a feel for economic or demographic trends.

A spike in the number of people searching for recruitment or home financing, for example, could indicate more people are facing redundancy or in mortgage stress well before official data confirms these trends.

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