Sunday, December 07, 2008

Google Trends

Would you like to know if your students or applicants are more concerned about tuition, aid, or loans this year? One global measure is how many times certain terms were Googled. Amazingly, this information is yours for the asking at google trends. You can restrict to geographic locations and time periods, and ask for several terms at once. An example is shown below, where I requested "tuition" and "financial aid" searches in the USA.
Note how regular these patterns are. Other trends are apparent too. There are more searches for tuition than financial aid, and the latter tails off in the winter. Also, searches for both terms have increased over the last years, but not dramatically. This could be due to any number of things, and one can get an idea by searching for "best college", which also shows an increase. It's probably a good sign that the charts don't change dramatically for the current cycle. If you look at "unemployment" on the other hand, it's a different story. A report at the bottom shows which locales most frequently googled the term. Fascinating stuff, and potentially important for your marketing.

A previous post mentioned a debate about SAT. Its chart is fascinating. Whereas the search trend is to decline slightly on average, the news volume (bottom graph) is clearly trending up.
The same thing (even more dramatically) is happening with ACT. Of course, "act" is another word that might be googled frequently, so that's more ambiguous.

As a bonus you can link to the results and export as a CSV file. From there, we could link to google documents or yahoo pipes. You could, for example, create a dashboard-type feature to show how many times your school's name was googled in your state (or was in the news), and graph it on an administrative portal beside applications received and awards granted.

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