Google Insight, less than Insightful

I am a bit concerned that a few of my recent posts seem to be Google bashing! First let me point out that I love most of Googles apps, I use analytics on my sites as well as Google docs, gmail etc. However I keep finding things that are perhaps not quite right!

About a week ago I did a search on Google Insights for the company I work for, and one of our competitors. I seemed to indicate some unusual activity happening, so I rushed out a report for our management meeting which is in a couple of days (from the date of this post).

To make sure I was up to date, I had another look at the stats today, and to my surprise, not only did it not show this unusual activity. A lot of the line was totally different. I have checked the keywords, period, geographic location etc and these are all the same, but the line is definitely different. Thankfully I took screen shots so you can see for yourself below: –

Same search on Google Insights - 1 week apart
Same search on Google Insights – 1 week apart

I think the moral of the story is probably that Insights may not be quite as Insightful as we think. I really don’t know why this should change, but it makes me concerned that this is really not a tool you can use reliably without significant supporting data.

Google Insights


 Google Insights is a new tool from Google that really surpasses the keyword tool in some areas. Where the keyword will suggest many different possibilities that will narrow the keywords you are targeting Insights will only give you the top 10. However where it has significant advantages is its geographic targeting. For example you can pick Australia or a state (unlike the keyword tool where you can only pick the country). If you do pick Australia it will break down search volumes by state so you can get some idea of where you should target, or even where you need to set up your distribution centre.


Insights for Ski in Australia
Insights for Ski in Australia


The other area that is useful is that you get a graph going back to 2004 that shows searches per month. This gives you a great idea on what is happening over time, whether there are seasonal variations and even whether you are about to enter an increasing or decreasing market.

One thing to note is that get numbers to show on the graphs, you will need to have a Google account. You can get one of these by signing up to Gmail or many of the other Google services. However one word of caution is that these are not absolute numbers they are normalised against the highest figure (ie if the top search volume was 1000 and the months search was 700, the value would be 70[%]).

So you would use this to look at your market trends over time where as the keyword tool would still be your primary research tool for looking which keywords and phrases to optimise for.