New Google tool aims to provide more insight into searches

Insights for Search extends earlier offering with added capabilities, graphical 'heat' maps

Google yesterday rolled out a new tool that it said can help marketing and advertising users better analyze Internet search patterns, while also adding new tools such as a heat map for graphically displaying search volumes and other data.

Google Insights for Search is an extension of the updated Google Trends tool that the company launched in June. Like Google Trends, the Insights software lets users type in search terms and then see search volume patterns over time as well as the top related and rising searches, Google said in a blog post. But it added that with the new tool, users also can compare volume trends across multiple search terms, vertical-industry categories, geographic regions and time ranges.

Insights for Search is designed to be used by advertisers, small business owners, academics and others, Google said, noting that it provides added "flexibility and functionality for advertisers and marketers to understand search behavior."

For example, Google -- which yesterday introduced an upgraded version of its enterprise-oriented Google Search Appliance -- said in a help document that Insights for Search could be used by a car maker to determine what marketing messages work best based on search patterns. When the terms "fuel efficiency," "safety" or "engine performance" are entered into the Insights software, it shows clearly that most searchers are interested in automotive safety, the company said in the document.

Aaron Wall, a search engine optimization consultant who writes a blog called SEO Book, said in a post that Insights for Search should be useful for analyzing the relationship between generic search concepts and more specific ones, and measuring how news coverage and business developments change the relative importance of different keywords.

Marketing and public relations workers will be able to use the graphs that can be created with Insights for Search "to say, 'Hey our brand is catching up with the market leader,'" Wall wrote. Rather than brand lift and PR lift being an abstract concept, we can compare brands in real time and see which markets resonate with our brands and marketing."

And when analysis of search patterns shows that marketing strategies are working well, companies can consider trying to boost their early successes with offline advertising or live events in the most receptive markets, he said.

Barry Schwartz, a blogger at the Search Engine Land site, said in a post that Insights for Search is a "huge extension" to Google Trends as well as Google Ad Planner and the tools that are available to advertisers in Google's AdWords technology.

For example, Schwartz wrote that when he used the new tool to analyze search results for "iPhone" and "BlackBerry," he netted news headlines plotted on a chart to show interest in those keywords over time. Among other things, the data revealed that iPhone was much more prevalent as a search term than BlackBerry was in June due to Apple's launch of the iPhone 3G that month.

Drilling down into interest in those two terms by region showed that users in Alabama, to cite one state, historically have been more interested in the BlackBerry than the iPhone, Schwartz said. But he added that the iPhone did surpass BlackBerry on interest levels there in June as well as the same month last year. Apple released its initial iPhone model in June 2007.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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