Did you know that Google receives and processes over 4 million search queries per minute? That is a giant shed load of queries! It is also a giant shed load of data that Google collects and makes openly available to us with Google Trends. An impressively simple gateway to exploring data with your students, Google Trends is an amazing resource that really does not get the attention it deserves. A fascinating research tool, a mind-boggling data source and a bottomless pit of possibilities, Google Trends is well worth investigating.
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A Quick Look
The below video was put together using data from Google Trends.
1. Spark the interest
One of the best features of Google Trends is its surprising simplicity. Type in keyword or two and straight away you can see just how popular that term has been in online search. Start by introducing your students to Google Charts with a few queries that will catch their attention. See which sports teams are most popular. See what time of the year people search for Santa Claus. Or which country searches for the word ‘Pizza’ most.
2. Research tool
There are few resources available that give students such open access to real live data. Encourage your students to add Google Trends to their digital toolbelt for future projects and research. Results from timelines and charts can be exported as screenshots and added to their own work as well as generating code to embed (as above) the real data into their digital documents, sites and blogs.
3. Data for any discussion
Consider using Google Trends in lessons and topics that may not seem immediately obvious. If you are starting a study on the Olympic Games, try introducing the subject to your class with the question: Why does the word ‘Shot Put’ spike in searches every four years? Google Trends can provide a great opportunity for these perplexing questions that really make students think.
4. Narrating the timeline
Depending on the trend, Google can add major news headlines to highlight certain events in the timeline. Try flipping this idea and have your students examine the timeline and come up with their own explanations for certain peaks and troughs.
5. Finding patterns and making predictions
Market researchers use Google Trends to analyze consumer behavior and make predictions on future popularity and growth. Take this idea to your class and have them look for patterns and trends in the data and come up with their own predictions and market analysis. You could even consider applying this to topics close to their heart.
Links and Next Steps
- Google Trends Help Center -- Tutorials and FAQ
- 2014 Google Trends Top Charts -- Explore what was popular in 2014
- Trend Pattern Example -- Christmas / Halloween / Thanksgiving
- Using Google Trends to Choose Between Similar Search Terms
- An Introduction to Google Trends -- Video (16 min)
- Using Google Trends to Predict an Outcome: Dancing with the Stars, March Madness, and Presidential Elections