Monday, April 14, 2008

Google Trends

Kathi at AncestorSearchBlog uses Google Trends to compare the 2004-2008 trend history for those searching for the word 'genealogy' compared to other hobbies such as gardening and scrapbooking, and other interests such as politics and religion.

It's an interesting comparison. My biggest initial surprise was the graph for religion, for while it remained fairly consistent, it was clearly seasonal, dropping drastically every year at the end of December. The suggestion that people lost interest in religion at the end of December was fairly disconcerting, until I factored in the drop during the summer as well. That's not because there are no religious holidays in the summer, my initial suspicion. A large number of people who use google, go on vacation every summer and at the end of December. (And during that period of time, when they're on computers, they're searching for other things.) You can see a similar effect with the graph for politics, though there is an unexplainable spike in November every two years.

However, I decided there were a few more genealogy related graphs I was curious about. And my investigation led to additional queries.

1) I wondered how many people searched for "Genealogy" but didn't know how to spell the word correctly. I was also curious about other key words/phrases such as ancestry, family history, and family tree.

It turned out that back in 2004, 'genealogy' was the #1 searched for phrase out of this group, but in 2008 'family tree' has surpassed it. The other three are less frequent searches in comparison, but I did note that it appeared that in 2004 'geneology' was more popular than 'ancestry'. In the past 4 years there has either been an increase in spelling skill, or perhaps the popularity of a particular website has influenced the results (by a tiny factor).

Since everything is relative in Google Trends, I decided to look at this comparison in greater detail by focusing just on these two terms.

The search frequency for 'geneology' and 'ancestry' became neck and neck at the beginning of 2006, and 'ancestry' surprassed 'geneology' in 2007.

But one of the interesting features of Google Trends is that while the default gives you the results for the entire world, you can narrow it down geographically. Here's the same comparison above, but just for the US.

As you can see, there are similarities, but 'geneology' is definitely more popular in the US than elsewhere in the world. What this says about our schools is up to you.

Google Trends allows you to get even more geographically narrow minded. I was satisfied with just the US for the comparison above, so for the next chart I decided just to see the general trend for 'genealogy' in my home state. The graph was indeed extremely worrisome.

Prior to about March or April of 2007 there was basically no interest in Genealogy in the state of Missouri. And then there was a dramatic spike. This corresponds with my genealogical research. Coincidence? Could this just be me?

I decided we needed more information.

Genealogy, Beer, Cardinals, Rams (State of Missouri)

George Bush, Clinton, Genealogy (state of Missouri)

I think I can say with relative certainty that there is an issue with the amount of available data skewing these results. So if you narrow your search down to the state-level, be forewarned...

1 comment:

Kathi said...

Terrific analysis and great fun. My only surprise is how low the keyword beer ranks!