Google Insights for Search Keeps Yahoo, Microsoft at Bay

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-08-06

Google Insights for Search Keeps Yahoo, Microsoft at Bay

Google Aug. 6 released Google Insights for Search, a neat little tool that can help advertisers better engage with their audiences.

Good customer engagement will keep advertisers from taking their online ad campaigns to Yahoo and Microsoft. Google's search analytics tools fuel advertisers' campaigns and their clients' enterprises, a sign that the Internet is a major hot spot for business.

A more granular extension of the popular Google Trends, Insights for Search allows users to bucket data by timeline, regions and categories. I've been using it for an hour and so far, so good.

Google Insights for Search works like Trends, in that you type in a search term to see search volume patterns.

The software then analyzes Google Web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms a user has entered, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

A line graph depicts searches from 2004 to the present, while a bar graph shows regional interest in terms by country and city. This is accompanied by a graphical "world heat map."

Insights also shows bar graphs of top related searches and rising searches, which are searches that have experienced significant growth in a given time period, with respect to the preceding time period.

Insights then lets you filter search results by region, time and category, such as health, travel and entertainment.

I did an Insights search on "Twitter," which has a weak overall relevancy score of 17. Of course, the company launched in July 2006, so only scored a 1 for relevancy in November 2006. Twitter, which now has 2.2 million users, scored a perfect 100 for July.

Testing Google Insights

Twitter scored 100 in Japan for regional interest, but only 56 in the United States. I found it interesting that "Twitter Facebook" was the top related search with a score of 100.
"Wordpress twitter plugin" scored a 51 in the United States in the rising search, underscoring the popularity of that tool, which lets users integrate their WordPress blogs with their Twitter accounts.

The Google AdWords guys did a search on the term "apple" and got a load of results about the company Apple, which they were able to filter into the Food and Drink category to find results on the fruit. Google offers more Insights tests here.

Search Engine Land's Barry Schwartz put Insights through some tests of his own, and you can see the results here.

The idea of Insights, of course, is to better help ad agencies divine what people are searching for on the Internet to build stronger Google AdWords campaigns and decide if they should target product A to region X, among other goals.

A goods manufacturer could cross-reference how well its products were selling in different cities and decide whether or not to shift its advertising focus.

Given the popularity of Trends, which I saw firsthand from the overflowing audience in a Trends session at the Search Engine Strategies show in New York earlier in 2008, I can only conclude that Insights' greater granular search analysis utilities will help advertisers more finely target their audiences.

Whether or not they successfully leverage Insights for greater sales is another story. In the meantime, such innovative search tools help widen the gulf between Google and lagging rivals Yahoo and Microsoft.

Rocket Fuel