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Insights Into Signal and Noise

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Google just released a service called Google Insight, which is basically data porn for marketers. Good-bye WordTracker, ComScore Compete and whatever other hodge podge of free tools we’ve made due with over the years; now we can be even more dependent on the GOOG.

Google Insight compares (normalized against a baseline, not in absolute terms) volume of search traffic over any period of time, maps those against news items, lets you break data out for states and cities, and even gives you related search terms.

You can compare search volume of individual terms in various locations or compare two time periods. Like Zeitgeist, it also shows you the top 10 most popular searches of any time period and those rising in popularity.

And since search terms can be so ambiguous depending on what topic you’re looking at, Google Insights lets you filter ALL this info by categories. If you’re logged into your Google account, you get numerical scores (because you’re already giving them info on what you search for, what sites you own, how much traffic they get, what they’re about, how you’re advertising them, what terms are most profitable for you… you might as well tell them what keyword terms you’re researching).

Signal versus Noise

To test drive this sucker, I chose a topic that’s been of particular interest to me lately: signal vs. noise. I limited the query to U.S. users only.

Google Insight indicates that there’s been a huge spike in searches for both terms in recent weeks, but searches for noise continue to outnumber searches for signal. However, the silver lining is that interest in signal appears to be at a three-year high.

Of those interested in signal, residents of these cities are the most interested:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Irvine
  3. Washington
  4. St Louis
  5. Austin

The most interested in the popular subject of noise were residents of:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Pleasanton
  3. Boston
  4. New York
  5. San Diego

When comparing interest in both terms in a single city, Google Insights reveals that within Washington DC, searchers are more interested in noise than they are signal, but their interest in signal is high relative to the rest of the country.

In terms of subregions, only California shows up in the Top 10 states for searches on both signal and noise, but interest in noise does edge out signal by a little bit (I blame it on the Southern Californians).

There are many more ways to break these data down, but the big picture is pretty clear. Plain as day.

Google shows quantitative proof that Americans consistently seek out fluff over substance. Except Tennessee… God Bless Tennessee.

Comments (5)

Category: Data


Comment by Linda Bustos

Made Thursday, 7 of August , 2008 at 3:08 pm

Melanie, I love your witty posts. This was a creative spin on the Google Insights test 🙂

Comment by SEO Consultant

Made Thursday, 21 of August , 2008 at 6:30 pm

Great twist on the Google insight tool, I think wordtracker will still work for a bit longer though =)

Comment by SEO Consultant

Made Thursday, 21 of August , 2008 at 6:40 pm

Also I’ve just checked this tool it’s not as accurate as you think – doess not match at all my analytics.

Comment by Protection eau

Made Wednesday, 27 of August , 2008 at 11:17 am

Insights is a good tool… but like all the others Google’s tools, it require a lot of time… You made a query only with U.S. users. And, as a french speaker (I’m live in france also), I have to admit that Insights is not used as it deserves…

Comment by premium wordpress

Made Thursday, 9 of October , 2008 at 1:21 pm

Melanie, great post as usual. I love the term “data porn”. Must admit I’m guilty of looking at that stuff a little too often myself.. damn those free tools…

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