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Google reflects on 15 years of Google Trends data

Google reflects 15 years of Trends data

Google takes a stroll down memory lane and shares some advanced tips for the here and now...

It seems like only a heartbeat ago, but Google Trends is currently celebrating its fifteenth year. What better time for the search giant to look back at some of the top searches from years gone by and offer some handy tips for getting the most out of a tool that today has grown to be more useful than ever?

In a recent blog post, Sue Hottrytenow, who has the fascinating title of Historian at Google Trends, did just that.

It is hard to believe that Trends launched back in 2006, with the data itself going back to 2000, Google Trends began life as little more than an experimental tool to assist the analysis of search data in aggregate, it was quickly rolled out to the masses though, after the company realised how useful that data could be.

Compared to the power of Google Trends today, the early version was incredibly limited in functionality, only providing data on exact match keywords in a limited number of languages.

But with time (and numerous significant updates) came features such as daily trends, categorised data, multi-language support, increased visualisations and of course, image search and videos.

Today’s Google Trends better reflects people’s interests regardless of the exact phrasing they use and offers real-time data on the things we care about.

- And how those things have changed over the last fifteen years, which while not exactly groundbreaking is certainly interesting.

Then and now

Trends change much like the world around us; the ways in which we consume media are vastly different today than in July 2006. Rihanna topped the list of most searched song lyrics back in ’06, today Olivia Rodrigo is proof of the power of modern celebrity status by holding three of the top five spots.

When it comes to actors, films and TV, Oprah reigned supreme in ’06, and Project Runway was the most searched TV show, more recently Olivia Rodrigo (yet again) tops the trending list with Big Brother at the top of the trending TV shows, (surprisingly it was also number two back in ’06.)

Getting more out of today’s Google Trends

The piece is full of tips for Google Trends power users, to wring the very best out of today’s powerful features. Here are just a few of them:

Searching by topic: Google recommends searching by topic as opposed to “terms” when possible.

Compare & compare: To fully understand the scale of a given trend, use relative comparisons to gauge popularity.

Trends are not polls: Some tend to confuse the two, trends are not polling data.

Auto complete: Is not the same as trends data, Google’s policies control what can appear in Auto complete, trends work differently, allowing users to look up search interest for almost any query.

Don’t forget to have fun: Around 15% of daily searches have never been seen before, what better way to keep up with peoples’ constantly shifting interests for the next 15 years!

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