When I initially started playing with Google Insights, I had a few thoughts about the service:
The Name is Weird
The name is really odd – “Google Insights for Search” seems to indicate to me that there will be “Google Insights for …” Video? Blogging? Pictures? News? Shopping? I’m not sure. It just seems like Google is positioning the service to be one of many. Even the URL (http://www.google.com/insights/search/) seems to indicate there will be more coming. Should be interesting to see what happens.
So.. Google Trends?
What exactly is the difference between Google Insights and Google Trends? As far as I can tell, the interface was improved in insights, and that’s about it. I thought maybe that Insights was replacing Trends, but the Google Labs page still doesn’t even list Insights, so I guess that’s not true.
The last thought I had was simply meh. Neat tool, useful for targeted SEO keyword research (does chiropractor or chiropractic get more search volume?) but there are significantly better tools out there for that. It’s interesting to see the news results and how that ties into search results, but it’s just interesting, not all that exciting or useful.
Man was I wrong.
Not about the name being weird, or that Google Trends is the same thing, but about Insight’s usefulness. I was playing with it a few days ago and discovered the absolutely right way to look at it:
Google Insights is a great tool for answering the question, “what do consumers want?” – IF you know the right questions to ask.
Take, for example, the question: “Are consumers really looking for more deals this year, and if so, when did it start?” That’s a pretty specific question. To answer it, I ran 3 different searches on Insights, and compared the results year over year:
The following is the result for “Free Shipping” – Blue is 2008, Red is 2007, etc…
Amazing the difference between the trend this year compared with previous years. If you didn’t have Free Shipping as part of your promotional schedule this year, you have seriously missed out.
But look way back in August – the difference was already starting to become apparent. By October it should have been obvious that consumers are looking for this more this year than ever before.
Look at that second peak we are currently experiencing. Consumers are looking for free shipping even on expedited deadlines.
Google Insights provides exactly that – insights.
This data is a great starting point for planning promotions and understanding consumer behavior on a very high level. Even (or maybe especially) looking at historical data there is much that can be learned.
In no way should it replace hard analysis and understanding of your business though. Just because consumers are looking for free shipping should you throw caution and margin analysis to the wind and push the promotion live? But knowing this about December might affect what you put in place for January.
What do you think?
What are your thoughts? Have you found Google Insights useful? What have you used it for? Please leave a comment, or ping me on Twitter.