“The power of search as a ‘window into the soul’ of the UK population”

18 June 2011 at 19:05 Leave a comment

Great post by Hitwise UK’s Research Director, Robin Goad, which was inspired by the Bank of England’s Quarterly Bulletin which included an article Using search data as economic indicators.

I have been evangelising about the power of search data  for a few years now and it is good to see the Bank of England exploring its power.

Goad explores how search query volumes correlate with events in the ‘real world’ and how online search behaviour is a reflection of the intent and interests of people.

He goes on to argue that portfolios of search terms rather than individual terms gives a much more accurate picture of online behaviour. This is definitely the case, as I argued  in a post on the Alphagov team blog. As an example, Council Tax is a popular search term, but digging deeper into the long tail, a number of facets of intent or need become apparent:

  • council tax bands/council tax rates
  • council tax exemptions
  • how much is council tax?
  • pay council tax/ pay council tax online
  • council tax benefit
  • council tax exemptions
  • council house discounts
  • council tax moving house
  • Registering for Council Tax
Finally, two more points that Goad doesn’t mention. Firstly, search analytics gives access to aggregations of many users’ real intent or need as expressed in a search engine. Secondly, the data are there for free or relatively low cost and just requires the effort to analyse.
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Entry filed under: analytics, search.

Avery says… Search for integration IAB conference

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