Technology

New Trends Tool Tells Googlers What’s Hot

List lovers, take note: Google on Monday added a new feature to its Google Trends report that reveals the top 100 fastest-rising Google search queries.

Much like Google Zeitgeist, a manually compiled list of popular searches that Google has produced for several years, Hot Trends takes the popularity list to a new level, with more up-to-date information about what’s currently on Google users’ minds.

“Hot Trends provides a snapshot of what’s on the public’s collective mind by allowing users to view the fastest-rising searches for different points of time,” said Amit Patel, a Hot Trends software engineer for Google.

Deviations From the Norm

Using an algorithm that identifies the Google searches that are deviating the most from their typical traffic patterns, Hot Trends highlights the search terms that have suddenly gained the most in popularity. For example, last Tuesday the No. 2 Hot Trends result was the term, “I who have nothing” — a result that might seem mysterious without the list of associated news articles and blog results, which showed that the term is the title of a song that was performed on “American Idol” that night.

By focusing on search terms growing in popularity, Hot Trends eliminates other terms that might be more popular overall, such as “weather,” but that don’t reflect current trends. It also filters out spam and inappropriate material such as pornographic results.

For each result, Hot Trends shows the associated Google News, blog searches and Google Web search results along with a search volume graph. In addition to seeing the latest results, users can also choose a date in the past to see what the top Hot Trends were for that day.

List-Loving Nation

“People are interested in what’s hot, and they love lists and rankings,” Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

Because of that interest, such indices of what’s popular often tend to reinforce themselves, Sterling noted, as subsequent users click on listed items to see what generated the initial interest.

Lists like Hot Trends can also be predictive, Sterling added, potentially offering a preview of an upcoming success by highlighting the “buzz” before a movie opening or even an election.

“The wisdom of the crowds is reflected through this,” Sterling said. “It’s also just an interesting mirror of what’s going on.”

A Next Step

“I think it will be interesting to see what people are searching for — it may surprise us,” Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, told TechNewsWorld.

A logical next step could be the addition of qualitative rankings of the pages produced for the top search terms, Wettemann added. Such rankings would let users see, for example, which page on “Tanzania National Park” — the top term on Hot Trends earlier today — was most popular.

“What will be interesting to see is how Hot Trends can be adopted for broader use,” Wettemann said. “Qualitative ratings would be a good next step.”

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