Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Trends

I’ve been allowing Google to log my search history for almost a year, and now there’s enough data to give a good picture of my personal googling habits. If you’ve never taken a look at a history of your Web searches before, you should try it. I personally find it fascinating.

If you’re using Google’s personalized search, you can view your data from the Trends link on the Search History page. How do you know if you have enabled personalized search? If you see a Sign Out link (along with several others) at the top right of your web page when you visit, you have enabled personalized search, and all your search history is available. See Personalizing your Google homepage for more information.

Let’s start with my top queries, sites, and links:

Five of the top 10 queries are to conferences. I often have to check on deadlines, author guidelines, etc., so it’s no surprise to see them listed. I can never remember the cryptic tar commands or commands for R, so they’re also up there. Why do I search for “list” often? I worked on an experiment for the past several months where I was querying Google and their API everyday for multiple search terms (including list), and "list" just happened to be one of the terms I manually checked quite a lot.

It’s no surprise I clink on Wikipedia search results the most. They’re often returned in the top 10 search results, and I’m a fan. The tolstoy website houses R documentation. It’s interesting to note the almost one-to-one mapping of the top clicks with the top queries.

Moving on to monthly search activity, you can see I average around 10 searches a day:

Daily activity shows I’m not much for searching on weekends:

And hourly activity shows I’m typically not on the computer late at night... I’m more of a morning person.

Althogh the aggregated data is not made available via an API, Google does provide an RSS feed of your personal search history.

Check out this article which has more details about using personalized search.