How to Use Google Trends to Predict the Future
What is Google Trends?
Many tech researchers are exploring the forecasting power of Google Trends, which works by reporting query indexes to create digestible data. Search terms entered by users on Google Search are anonymized, put into categories and grouped together in such a way that it allows users to research a topic’s popularity in specific regions and time periods on Google Trends.
But they can’t promise an accurate analysis of your popularity in high school.
If you’d like to explore the ins-and-outs of this process, Choi and Varian briefly describe trend data mechanisms in their paper “Predicting the present with Google Trends,” stating, “Google Trends data does not report the raw level of queries for a given search term. Rather, it reports a query index. The query index starts with the query share: the total query volume for a search term in a given geographic region divided by the total number of queries in that region at a point in time.” (Choi, Varian, 2012).
With this knowledge in mind, it’s easy to imagine the many ways digital designers and other creatives can leverage this data to create an optimal user experience.
Leveraging the Data
Heard of the Google Trends Live Case? You will soon. Designed for the Pixel XL, the Google case updates your phone’s back to display the most relevant trending topics in your region. The case has a programmable shortcut button that allows you to tap for more details about the trend at hand.
Already, with this technology, it has become effortless to find relevant content. Tech enthusiasts can also gather regional data in a way that is already semi-digestible (line graphs, percentage calculations) and translate this information into graphics that are appealing for consumers.
You could also create content that targets specific groups. For example, if you were interested in advertising the iPhone X, you could first search Google Trends to find areas in the world that are most interested in the topic and create content that appeals to individuals in these regions.
You could also browse related queries to find frequently asked questions from consumers or prospective buyers.
The list goes on. Every year, tech enthusiasts grow more aware of big data and its contemporary utility. With the help of Google Trends and some savvy analysts, we’re well on our way towards a smarter and more imaginative future in digital media.
- Carrière-Swallow, Y. and Labbé, F. (2013), Nowcasting with Google Trends in an Emerging Market. Journal of Forecasting, 32: 289–298. doi:10.1002/for.1252
- Choi, H., & Varian, H. (2012). Predicting the present with Google Trends. Economic Record, 88(s1), 2-9.