What The X Factor tells us about Google’s keyword and search-volume analysis tools
There are several ways to use Google to find out what people are searching for.
Having used three ways to check search terms related to The X Factor (ITV's talent show) - I reckon Google Insights is better than the Google Adwords Keywords tool for topical insight (and don't bother with the auto suggest feature). (Update, I've used Google Insights to try and predict the likelihood of Cher Lloyd being the X Factor winner. And given the launch of Google Instant, I now reckon Autocomplete is now a lot better).
Google Insights: four yeses
Google Insights lets you "compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties".
Here's what it tells us about The X Factor (the options were set to web search, UK, last 7 days). Unsurprisingly, X factor 2009 is top - followed by searches for youtube, auditions and ITV. Jamie, a contestant from a week ago tipped as a possible winner is in the top 10.
As well as top search terms, you can also rising searches - those that have become particular popular lately, as this next table shows.
The rising searches show that some of the contestants from saturday night, particularly the stunners (who weren't, and didn't make it through) are already being searched for.
Data like this on a weekly basis might be a clue as to the eventual finalists? Either way, it's all useful and interesting data for anyone doing SEO.
Google Adwords keyword tool: three yeses
The Google Adwords keyword tool lets you see global searches related to the term you choose or local searches for the most recent month - August in this case.
I'm not sure these results (for a phrase match) look particularly accurate - were people really searching for the x factor 2007 and 2006 in august of 2009? 'X factor 2009' doesn't appear in the Adwords keywords tool list?
Also, they don't seem bear any relation to what Google Insights shows (I haven't done a screenshot) if you set a date range of August this year - where "X factor 2009" is shown as the top search term. This sounds much more likely.
The Google Insights results for August also show 'X factor Danyl' - the contestant from the first programme in August who has has 5 million people watch his debut on youtube - in the top 10, whereas the Adwords keywords result don't.
Google Auto Suggest: it's a no from me
Finally, there's the Google Auto Suggest function on the homepage.
Here's what it showed - I think these are so general as to be pretty useless for analysis of what people might be searching for.
For topical subjects, Google Insights seems to give the best, er, insight into what people are searching for - its stats seem more convincing than the Adwords keywords tool, and give a better sense of current trends.
Google Insights: you're hired, Oh, wrong show.