The Google Zeitgeist (or Whats Hot and Whats Not?)

    April 27, 2005

Ever wonder what the heck people search for on Google? Wonder no more! Google summaries it’s history of search terms each week, month and year, categorized by various subjects and countries of origin.

They present this summary data on their Google Zeitgeist (Zeitgeist defined: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era) pages.

Looking at the data provides interesting insight into the intelligence of human beings. Take, for example, 2004, a year of intense and important national and world events. Surely the top searches reflect the intellectual curiosity of Americans in these areas, right? Well, not exactly. The most popular queries from the United States for 2004 were, well, maybe a picture will say it all so much more clearly:

Google Zeitgeist 1

Embarrassingly, Britney Spears (does she ever go away?), Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, and the ever popular Pamela Anderson take the top four spots of 2004. But, maybe our taste in television shows will make up for this. Nope! I checked and it’s The Simpsons in the number one spot, followed by Pokemon, South Park, Charmed and Spongebob.

You can see all of the various 2004 U.S. lists on this page. Google also compiles some data for many other countries, which you can find here.

If you go start at the main page, you will find links to other yearly summaries, monthly lists and even weekly lists. The monthly lists are the same as the yearly, but by month. But the weeklies are different. These only contain two lists for each week-Top Gaining Queries and Top Declining Queries. From week to week, you can see what’s hot and what’s not (U.S. queries only). For example, here are the lists for the week ending April 18, 2005:

Google Zeitgeist 2

Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered how Google manages to handle all the searches, not to mention compile them in Google Zeitgeist for you, you should read this very interesting explanation of their patented technology.

Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

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