Monitoring Search Trends

Knowing more about your competition and your market than your competitors is of course advantageous for your business. Sometimes we can come too focused on our own data, looking at our own traffic, stats. and conversions. But what about the competition ? Maybe they are also improving, but at a great rate. Getting your hands on their data can be that little bit more tricky.

Here I will show you some tips on learning about search trends, changes in search patterns and popularity of websites, with a few nice examples. These should be a great way to start to look at your competition.

Search Frequency

The tool of choice is,Google Trends . It allows users to compare trends in search which is very useful to see how search frequency is changing. Here is an example of the difference in the search frequency between blackberry’s two new products (bold and storm) over the last month.
blackberry storm vs. bold
The values presented are relative (and possibly on a logarithmic scale) as opposed to absolute so it is a little  difficult to exactly quantify the difference in the searches frequency. But you do see which one is a clear winner. Also Google has the possibility to show the related news frequency, so you can see how hot the topic is, and find out  the reason for a specific increase in the number of searches about the topic.

Knowing the search frequency can help when you are running seasonal campaigns. Have a look at the comparison between Christmas and Valentines search traffic. Here you can have a great idea when you should start your PPC campaigns for example.

Website Popularity

The send part of Google Trends is what they called Website Trends. This is really a website popularity tool, which shows an estimate of the traffic going to websites of your choice. As usual it’s always a little bit easier with an example. Here is the comparison between myspace.com and facebook.com .
myspace vs. facebook
As you can see there was a cross over in popularity at the end of last year. Facebook is still gaining numbers of visitors, while myspace is starting to decay slightly.

Google trends really comes into it’s own where we can now look at the regions, again looking at myspace and facebook, but this time the data is based on Irish information.
myspace vs. facebook (irish version)
We see that the crossover in terms of traffic happened more around the middle of September 2007.  With advertising programs on both Facebook and MySpace, I know which one I would be targeting more and more as a business.

Comparison between Irish Newspaper websites

The whole reason for this study was that I wanted to see what was the most popular online newspaper in Ireland, and to see there has been any changes in the last year. Here is the data for some Irish newspaper websites, and interestingly enough we can see some important events.
irish newspapers popularity
First off we can see the rise in the use of the domain irishtimes.com from July 2008, this was due to the Irish Times separating the news from the ireland.com domain. It remains that the Irish Times and the Independent are the top 2 most read Irish newspaper websites, and there seems to be little movement for the others in the field. Also we can see that over all the number of people visiting these websites is increasing.

Give Google Trendsa whirl and let me know if you come up with some interesting trends.

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