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Google Zeitgeist 2012 – Takeaways

Google has released the Zeitgeist 2012.  This is a huge list of trending (and also just popular) search terms that are specific to 2012.  For search nerds like me, this is pretty cool.  But even if you don’t hang on Amit Singhal’s every word, there’s some info worth looking through here.  

First thing, this is not a list of the most-searched terms this year.  Not even close.  If it were, the top searches would be things like “what is the meaning of life” “mcdonalds” and the like.  This is a list of terms that had a disproportionate popularity this year as compared to the past.  

It’s also organized both by country (it defaults to the World at first) and by topics.  There’s a lot of things that you’d expect on here.  Olympics 2012, Hurricane Sandy, and iPhone 5 were all big trends this year for search.  Unsurprisingly.  

Ok, so what’s the value here?  Other than revealing the relative popularity of a handful of obvious search terms, and surprise about the popularity of celebrity death searches, what does all of this tell you?

Well, there are two different types of lists presented here, and they tell you remarkably different things.  First are the trending searches.  Like I said before, those are searches that had significantly higher volume than previous years (specifically 2011).  Then, there’s the Most Searched items.  They have different icons, and you won’t really see too many Most Searched until you drill down by country and topic.  

I’ll admit right now most of the Zeitgeist data is not very actionable.  We don’t work with too many clients that are basing their SEO strategy on ranking highly for ‘Jeremy Lin’ or ‘Super Bowl’.    Still, Google makes it easy to browse data about relative volumes of other search terms.  Like search terms that may be important to your business.


The tool is Google Trends.  You just enter two (or more) search terms (each can be more than one word), and separate them with a comma.  For example, as we revealed in our most recent webinar, we’re highly invested in marketing automation.  Particularly when compared to more traditional email blast tools, marketing automation is a huge step forward.  Well, let’s see what the relative volume of those two search terms are over time.

Google Trends Graph

Yup, over the last few years, they’re starting to swap popularity, and pretty quickly.  What just a few years ago was a ~50% spread has now been reduced to a ~14% difference.  

Suddenly you see a pretty big picture about where things may be headed.  Obviously, this isn’t data to use as the single piece of evidence for big business decisions, but if this isn’t a pretty obvious and compelling snapshot of mindshare, I don’t know what is.

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