MANILA, SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 (STAR) By Eden Estopace - MANILA, Philippines - When people want to find any information on the Web, the default tool is a search engine. Aggregate the thoughts that people are typing away on their keyboards in search of something and you’ll get a good perspective of the world’s thought.

Do people want laptops, new cellphone models, cheaper cars, take-out food perhaps, or just more info on the upcoming elections?

Leading search engine Google has launched a tool that allows anyone to look at aggregated data on the most popular search queries. This tool, the Google Insights for Search, has been used by curious Netizens just interested to know what information people are looking for on the Web as well as advertisers and marketers to gauge the level of people’s interest in a product or service.

This same tool is now available in Filipino.

“I’d like to emphasize that it’s not just a translation, but the data is also in Filipino,” said Jay Trinidad, regional product marketing manager for consumer products of Google Asia-Pacific.

As in its English version, “Mga Insights sa Paghahanap” shows search trends over time and even provides a graph. The interest in boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, for example, rises and falls in a 12-month period but peaks when he has a fight. In the last 12 months, searches on Pacquiao were highest in December 2008 when he trounced Oscar de la Hoya and in May 2009 when he defeated Ricky Hatton.

“This just goes to show that offline events affect what is going on online,” said Trinidad.

The top rising searches so far in the last seven days worldwide are Patrick Swayze, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, the Vampire Diaries, 9/11, Lady Gaga, and Windows Live.

In the Philippines, lyrics, Facebook, Friendster, Yahoo, YouTube, games, Google and quotes were the most common search terms used. Rising searches locally also include Patrick Swayze, Kanye West, the UAAP Cheeerdance competition 2009, PBA, and the US Open 2009.

Google said one could further refine results by typing in a specific category like “rising searches in laptops.” The graph provided by Insights for this particular category shows rising interest in laptops beginning January this year, and the most common words used for searching laptops on the Web are laptop brands, top laptop brands, laptop computer brands and brands of laptop, although there is rising interest in the keywords top 10 laptop, good laptop brands and laptop brands’ list.

One can gauge the level of interest in a particular topic worldwide or in a specific location in the last seven days, three months, and one year or since 2004, said Trinidad.

One can also compare the popularity of two or more keywords. This being the election season and the last two weeks having seen the launch of the candidacy of at least two major political parties, it is interesting to compare the search queries on presidential candidates. This, however, does not determine who is more popular but reflects the volume of searches on a particular name or keyword.

According to its website, Google comes up with the data by “analyzing a portion of Google Web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you’ve entered, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.”

It added that Insights designates a certain threshold of traffic for search terms, so that those with low volume won’t appear.

“Insights for Search offers a glimpse into the spirit of the times,” Trinidad said.

In the Philippines, there is, for example, a direct correlation between the media hype around the school opening in June and the volume of queries on the topic, which when graphed by Insights shows a steep drop starting July when the issue has relatively died down and faded from the media spectacle.

The most common keywords used in the search for information on swine flu are swine flu symptoms, swine flu Philippines, H1N1, and swine flu virus.

Aside from making the Insights for Search available in Filipino, Google said it also added two new services lately — forecasts for future search trends for certain queries and the animated map feature, which depicts how search interests changes over time in different locations.

Running Insights, for example, to determine the level of interest of people in netbooks, shows that there is a steady increase in people’s interest in these small computers all over the world but interest is highest in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, the Philippines and Singapore over a 12-month period.

Trinidad admitted that the tool has wide uses and applications for advertisers and marketers, but asked what is in it for Google again to launch this service in its usual pro bono style, he said it has always been the Google way to build the service and the value first and “money follows.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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