Google’s grasp of trends: searches turned data

When someone lays their hands across home row and unleashes the click-click-click of their keyboard, Google is keeping track. Search terms are very revealing. That’s why it is fascinating to see global Google search data compiled. If you want to take the pulse on any number of topics, Google Zeitgeist is your website. What are people buying? Look at Google Product Search input. Where are people going? Investigate Google Maps data.  I could go on about the animated search trend maps and the enticing weekly archives for 2001-2007, but I expect you’ll get to them independently if you make the time-consuming click on Zeitgeist.

The labyrinth of search fads is bound to lead you past some intriguing figures. I followed my instincts and wound up with the elusive American food culture staring at me from a top 10 list. I decided then and there to see what else Google trends could reveal.

In 2010 the fastest rising global food and drink search topics were:

  1. masterchef
  2. 食べログ
  3. cupcakes
  4. jimmy johns
  5. как жрать суши
  6. dominos pizza menu
  7. tudo gostoso receitas
  8. guacamole recipe
  9. applebees menu
  10. rachel ray

Translation: Americans love to watch food television and they want their food delivered while they do so (or they might be willing to pick it up). The Japanese are infatuated with 食べログ, a grassroots restaurant review site. Russians (#5) are trying to figure out “how to eat sushi” and Brazilians’ (#7) favored recipe resource is the Tudo Gostoso website. Cupcakes stormed the dessert displays several years ago, and never looked back. Though I haven’t seen evidence of the treat’s international rise, its #3 spot is no surprise. That leaves “guacamole recipe” as the odd man out. I can only conclude that English speakers everywhere have fallen for avocados. Or given National Guacamole Day, this may just be the next American food fetish. (Photo credit: Cupcakes by Our Awesome Planet)

For those who lament the absence of American food culture, Google Zeitgeist is reading the our national palate loud and clear. American Heritage will back me up in stating that culture can be interpreted as collective behavior characteristics. Therefore, a country’s food culture is potentially interpreted as what everybody is making for dinner. In 2009, the top U.S. recipe searches were:

  1. chili
  2. meatloaf
  3. cheesecake
  4. banana bread
  5. pancake
  6. salsa
  7. hummus
  8. lasagna
  9. apple pie
  10. meatball

U.S. food culture plain and simple: apple pie is an American favorite and we love love love ground beef. Given that Americans aren’t known for dietary restraint, it’s not a shock that chili, meatloaf and apple pie also appear in 2008’s top comfort foods searches. Food culture captivates me, with all of its social, environmental, political, agricultural and economic choices in tow. I extend my gratitude to Google for letting me see that Australia’s most searched food in 2010 was minestrone soup and that Panama’s fifth was pizza.

Whether you have a more refined interest in search terms or are just plain old curious, the zeitgeist of online information seekers tells an interesting tale. Seeing the aggregation of billions of queries in a streamlined top 10 list is, in a nerdy way, intoxicating.

A white backdrop showcasing a simple rectangular search form under a six letter empire transformed data collection. As thanks for your regular input, some of that information is at your fingertips.

Special thanks to Leslie Freehill for assisting in Portuguese translation.

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One thought on “Google’s grasp of trends: searches turned data

  1. Pingback: Google 101: data mining and superior search skills | Curious Terrain

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