I don’t play around with a lot of things on the Internet. I’m proud to say that I have avoided (mostly) the temptation to listen to silly audio tracks, take various quizzes, and watch quirky videos.
But Google’s new toy blows me away. Welcome to Google trends.
This feature allows you to enter up to five topics and compare how frequently Google visitors have searched for them over time. It also shows you the relative frequency of stories mentioning each inn Google News stories.
If that’s not enough for you, the still-in-development service lists the places that have fostered the most searches for your term (per a population-norming formula).
Witness the fascinating results of just a few moments of Google Trends analysis:
Everyone know that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. So which do you search for? Apparently cake—except in London, England, the only city that pops up in the results showing more searches for “eat” than “cake.”
Net surfers have Googled the early favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hilary Clinton, more this year than Rudy Giuliani, one of the Republican frontrunners. On the other hand, searches for the other leading Republican candidate, John McCain, outnumber those for the New York senator.
Hilary Clinton, by the way, has many fewer searches than bitch.
With the exception of a few brief spikes, Angelina Jolie has trounced Jennifer Aniston on Google searches for more than two years. More people in Chicago than anywhere else search for Aniston, but even there, Jolie gets more searches.
Brad Pitt? He’s almost always higher than Jennifer, but since early 2005 Angelina has kicked his ass in Google searches just as much as she did in Mr. And Mrs. Smith.
Once you start comparing searches, it’s hard to stop.
Dogs beat cats by a long shot. Many more people have searched this year for Stephen Colbert than Colbert’s parody target, Bill O’Reilly. Paris Hilton beats out Paris, France by a long shot—except in much of France, where the city wins.
But soon, disappointments appear. Phrases lacking an undisclosed number of searches don’t register and cannot be analyzed.
Thus, you can’t learn anything about the relative frequency of searches on benevolent dictators, wanton debauchery, or drunken wombats. Other terms lacking the requisite hits for Google Trends include quality blog, pop culture satire, and black leather pants.
And David Amulet. Come on, people! What do you think that Google search bar at the top of this blog is for?!?
Yes, that’s right—it’s to search for cake, bitch, and drunken wombats. Hop to it.