Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google Trends for Websites

Just caught up with the launch of Google Trends for Websites which extends the functionality of the original Google Trends (which charts the relative popularity of search terms) to offer site-specific traffic data. Whilst TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb are both rather sniffy about it, citing its partial data-set and lack of coverage for smaller sites, for me it adds a couple of interesting new elements in the form of the 'Also visited' and 'Also searched for' rankings (data which I don't think either Compete or Alexa provide for free).

Thus, the trends page for bbc.co.uk indicates that visitors to the BBC site are also visiting other broadcasters (ITV and Channel 4), middle-class retail outlets (John Lewis and Marks & Spencer) and a range of other, primarily task-oriented, sites (weather, price comparison, concert tickets, motoring and government services/information). It also reveals how popular 'bbc iplayer' has become as a search term.

Compare with the trends page for channel4.com which, apart from revealing a much greater seasonal fluctuation in seasonal traffic levels (thank you Big Brother), indicates that visitors to the Channel 4 site are often visiting other TV related sites (plus a couple of food sites and a cinema chain). Search is dominated by programme titles (esp. Big Brother).

Whilst the statistical robustness of this data is clearly questionable, it nevertheless provides an interesting insight into the behaviours around some of the web's biggest properties (Google excepted). Whilst similar data can be obtained (for a fee) from companies like Hitwise, this is the first time - to my knowledge - that 'Also visited' and 'Also searched for' data has been made freely available in this way.

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