Thursday, April 10, 2008

Comparative Analysis of Google Search Terms

I'd like to follow through on the question AncestryInsider posed at the Genea-Musings GuestBook in reference to my article about The Genealogy Search Trend on Google.

Ancestry Insider: To followup Kathi's article on Genealogy searching on Google, someone needs to do a comparative analysis of other search terms. Did all hobbies decrease in like fashion? It would be interesting to compare genealogy against other hobbies such as gardening and stamp collecting. Did people's interests move from hobbies to some other aspect of their lives? Besides hobbies, maybe you could look at other categories such as employment, finances, religion, politics, etc. Does the decrease demonstrate increased competition from other search websites? Maybe a majority of search terms have seen a decrease.

The Ancestry Insider wants to know if all hobbies decreased in like fashion:

Above is a comparison chart of search trend for different hobbies over the past four years. The keyword genealogy (blue), is the only hobby to show a relative decrease in searches. The other hobbies do not show a decline, although gardening (red), as would be expected, does show large up-and-down seasonal variations in the chart. Yet gardening still ends in the same relative position on the chart over the years. Scrapbooking (green) also shows a relatively steady line across the years. Stamp collecting (gold) shows a steady line but relatively lower than others on the chart - barely visible at the bottom of the chart.

The Ancestry Insider asks if people's interests moved from hobbies to some other aspect of their lives:

Above is a chart that show a comparison of searches for genealogy (blue), stocks (red), politics (gold), and religion (green) as search words. Religion (green) and genealogy (blue) both show a decline, while stocks and politics remain steady. None of these hobbies seem to have filled the hole left by the decrease in genealogy searching. However, because these charts show relative numbers, genealogy appears to have less of a relative decline than when compared to other aspects.

The Ancestry Insider asks if the decrease demonstrates an increased competition from other search websites:

Google's U.S. search referral percentage has increased from 52% in 2005 to 64% in 2007 to the new all time high of 67.25% in 2008. So, the decrease in the keyword genealogy is not caused by increased search competition. Google has been gaining in searches every year.

The Ancestry Insider asks if perhaps a majority of search terms have seen a decrease:

Hard to say since Google does not release absolute numbers. And Google Trends only releases information on the largest and broadest of search keywords.

I don't think an analysis of Google Trends shows the reason for the decrease in the Google keyword search of genealogy. The other hobby keywords that I tried are not declining. The other "aspects of life" keywords I tried are not declining. Google is growing every year in the number of searches relative to other search engines. Google Trends is not meant to provide detailed analysis - just broad strokes. There is really not enough information to draw a conclusion as to why genealogy is declining as a keyword on Google Trends.

However, you may be interested in the 2007 Year-End Google Zeitgeist which shows the fastest growing and fastest falling Google Search keywords in 2007. You will see a lot of keywords that have increased, but there is nothing to show a "cause and effect" of some keywords rising while genealogy is falling.


Randy Seaver said...


Thanks for picking up on the comment by the AI. I'm outta town and without much time to do anything. This was your initial search idea and post, and I'm glad you followed up on it.

It looks to me like interest in genealogy is falling or leveling off. Perhaps that is a reflection of its maturity as an interest (i.e., those that want to do it are doing it, or know how to get information without Googling "genealogy") or it may be a decline in initial interest level by those "wondering" about it. Or maybe it's frustration - after all, if you Google the word "genealogy" you get millions of matches - I get tired looking at more than 50!

Cheers -- Randy

Amanda Erickson said...

I think it might just be what Randy suggested of getting info without Googling "genealogy."

I do the majority of my genealogy on the internet, but I rarely search the term "genealogy." The only time I do, is when I pair it with a surname to do an overall search on that surname. I've also found that "ancestry" seems to get more hits, at least in my case, so I wonder how the search term "ancestry" has done versus "genealogy."