Google Trends updated

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The latest version of Google Trends, which allows users to see how popular specific search terms are across the Internet, has been met with tempered enthusiasm by search marketers.

Google Trends has always been useful, and these updates make it more useful than before, said David Berkowitz, director of emerging media for search marketing firm 360i, in response to the news. That said, it's still not perfect, in his opinion: “The one thing Google won't give away here is the exact numbers,” he said.

According to a company blog post, the latest version of Google Trends, which was released yesterday, provides new features allowing users to see numbers reflecting search “scale” on a graph download to a spreadsheet. The “scale” is based on the average search traffic of the key term entered. Users need to sign into a Google account to access this function.

“From a search marketing perspective, Google Trends gives a greater insight into global query interest over time, and now offers exportable, relative quantitative data for term comparison,” said a Google spokesperson when reached by e-mail.

Before, Google provided graphs that gave users a sense of what some of the trends were — including trends across geographic regions, Berkowitz said. Now, however, people can actually quantify the comparisons, he said. “Taking this all together you can get a better picture of the marketplace.”

“Google's notorious for being a black box so any steps they can take in being more transparent with their data is a win for the entire industry,” said Aaron Goldman, VP marketing and strategic partnerships at Internet marketing firm Resolution Media. “That being said, this is a baby step in the marathon in what we're looking for from Google in terms of that level of transparency.”

Like Berkowitz, Goldman agreed that it would be great if Google provided exact search-volume data and not just scale. For example, by using Google Trends, there's no way to know if a term was searched for 100 times, a million times or 10 million times, he added.

Right now, the “bar is really being set” by Microsoft's AdIntelligence tool, which is an Excel plug-in, Goldman said. It allows users to put in keywords and find out — month by month — the number of searches through Live search for each term, he said.

“You have absolute data coming from Microsoft vs. relative data from Google,” Goldman added.

When asked if Google might consider releasing exact search-volume figures in the future, a company spokesperson responded, “We are always looking for ways to improve upon our products, but have nothing to announce at this time.”

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