We performed an analysis of Google web trends via Search Insights to see where the greatest growth existed for each year beginning with 2004 and all time. Then we zeroed in on those categories with the greatest uptick within a given year.
So how did we do it?
As each search category has a vastly differing search volume that has drastic ups and downs, it’s not the best measurement to determine trends. Therefore, measuring the difference between the beginning and end of a linear trend line will show you how steep the line is, or the size of the uptick of that given date range. When we applied this thinking to all of the 27 different categories in Google Search Insights, here are the results we found:
Social media is the top story for all Google searches
It’s no surprise Social Networking had the largest uptick, followed by the Internet and Food & Drink. The degree to which Social Networking surpassed its competing categories is shocking. The linear trendline slope of Social Networking is over 13x that of the number two slot, Internet. Social Networking only started to register on Google’s radar in December of 2004, and search volume blipped randomly until mid-2006, when it took off like a rocket.
Relative to the total number of searches on Google, the Social Networking category went from 17 percent in late 2005 to 42 percent at the same time the next year. Late 2007, it broke 75 percent; 200 percent in late 2008, 450 percent in late 2009; and 700 percent in 2010. The rise of social media is not surprising, or that Facebook is leading the charge, it’s the rate at which social media is surpassing other categories is astonishing.
Brands are the big drivers
When we looked at the trendline slope of all categories for each year, shopping was a big contender. Shopping had the steepest slope for 2008, 2009, 2010. This isn’t so shocking when we consider the rise in online shopping during the holiday season. What is interesting is which sub categories get the most attention. Mass Merchants & Departments stores category has the steepest slope followed by shopping portals / search engines and coupons / rebates.
These findings build a case for the importance of branding for major retailers and their impact on search. Walmart took the number one spot, followed by Target, Sears, Costco, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s. Also, according to an SEOMoz webinar, brands are a way for search engines to sift through the hundreds of thousands of spam sites. They lend credibility to your site, therefore, being seen more authoritatively from search engines.
What does this mean?
We can draw a correlation between social media and branding. If the two categories are top-of-mind for US internet users, combining them is ever-more attractive for companies to do business on and offline.