Google Trends for Websites: Competitive Intelligence Analysis

superstarIf you are on the web, or do Web Analysis, it is a real crime if you don't tap into the reams and reams of competitive intelligence data that is available online. It is a core component of a successful Web Analytics 2.0 strategy.

A lot has changed even in the last six months in the world of competitive intelligence, this post, the first of three, attempts to share the kinds of analysis you can do in the area of Search, Websites, Display and Ads (content networks).

In the past I have written about the why, what & how to choose Competitive Intelligence Tools [ComScore, Alexa, HitWise, Compete etc]. That was followed by a lovely article on Metrics, Tips & Best Practices in doing competitive intelligence analysis. Finally there was some fun stuff with Microsoft AdCenter Labs in the Advanced Web Analytics post.

But until now not Google.

The reason was that the tools that Google provided were cool but I was unsure how they provided actionable insights. [And I am the Analytics Evangelist at Google!]

That changed recently with a group of tools the provide actionable trends and insights. My hope with these posts is to share what these tools do that I like, but that's 20%. 80% of my hope is to teach you how to think, and what you can do regardless of what tool you use.

[UPDATE: As of Q4 2012 Google has evolved Google Trends to only show competitive intelligence data around global keyword behavior and removed the ability to do website data analysis. The post below is now for just reference purposes only, it can still teach you types of website level analysis that you could do with other tools. www.hitwise.com is a paid tool that is quite good. You can also get a free account with www.compete.com and get limited data about other websites for US visitors only.]

Here's the first one: Google Trends for Websites .

google trends for websites webtrends

First thing you can see in the tool: Daily Unique Visitors. And if you are logged in then you see the actual number. And if you eyeball the graph you'll see the trend, going down over time in the above case and rising like the phoenix in July!

[sidebar]
Long time readers of this blog know that Daily Unique Visitors is not a metric I am too fond of, especially if you are using a web analytics tool on your website. If you want to use a daily metric as a KPI then use Daily Visits (sessions), not Daily Unique Visitors which is sub optimal for a number of reasons. For competitive intelligence it matters less, you are comparing apples to apple.
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It is sad that most people leave the tool with the above graph, for themselves of their competitors. But there's more. Here are two other things you can use.

Do this simple thing first, switch the geography setting to All Regions and here you go dear, here's how your competitor is doing internationally:

google trends for websites webtrends international

Looks like WebTrends gets half of its traffic internationally, and it contributes enough to actually reduce the slope of the curve (the one in the US is steeper, reflecting a worse situation in the US).

[sidebar]
Since this will come up in many people's mind, the Trends data for any site, and obviously not for www.webtrends.com (!), is Not from Google Analytics. The GA team has said in a recent post: "Google Analytics doesn't share individual, site-level information with Google Trends for Websites or Google Ad Planner." Read more context on the team's official blog.

[/sidebar]

So you wonder, what's the make up of the international markets? Here you go. . . .

google trends for websites webtrends countries

The thing to do is correlate this with other pieces of data you have. For example I notice that India has actually become #2 referrer on my blog as well so it is interesting that WebTrends is seeing the same, well, trend. So it seems to be inline with expectations.

You might have other sources of data that you can correlate this with. For example you could look at that data just by the US and match it up with where your competitor has retail box stores, so maybe you can exploit a gap there.

And finally you get sites that Visitors who go to your competition visit, and top search terms they use. . . .

google trends for websites webtrends also visited

This is getting to know a few different things, mostly around the "persona" and "preferences" of the kinds of Visitors who go to a site. The bigger the site the most interesting this data is (especially when there are more keywords filled out in the Also Searched For part above).

As I look at the data I am very surprised that there is such a overlap between ClickTracks and WebTrends visitors. I would have expected Omniture to be higher in the list. It raises a few questions:

Do WebTrends customers (many of whom are still log file based – not that there's anything wrong with that) think the cost is an issue and hence considering switching to ClickTracks?

Webposition Gold is used for SEO purposes, and is owned by WebTrends. Is that causing only a certain type of visitors to come to the website?

Are Clickz and MarketingSherpa the cutting edge of Analytical personas that WebTrends should have a overlap with?

One of the challenges WebTrends has faced is that of traditionally selling to IT while its newer competitors have sold to Marketers/Business folks. I am not surprised to see sphinn and mattcutts.com on the list, but perhaps those are not the persona of a typical chq signing Marketing Executive. Is that a challenge for WebTrends?

See how that list is making me think about the "persona" and "preferences" for www.webtrends.com visitors? Do that for your competition, there is a wealth of insights (questions you should be asking) in the data.

As you might have guessed by now, all of the above was just foreplay (very important for a higher climax!).

Measuring individual sites (yours or competitor) is good but the real fun in this is comparing trends. That will give you the key context you need to make even more sense of this competitive data.

So I did exactly that. . . .

google trends omniture webtrends coremetrics

Ahhh…. sweet sweet data!

Don't focus on the actual numbers (you'll notice I say this a lot in this post). You want to compare the trends and each line gives context to the other two. That is deeply meaningful.

So what does it show?

WebTrends was rising like a phoenix in the US in July 2008 but Omniture seems to be rising like a …. hmm …. what's a bird that is native to Utah? Can't think of one. But I am sure there is a good one.

Knowing that there is a general spike in the industry that is causing an uptick gives me a rainnew benchmark to compare my own performance. If I had sunk in $5 million in marketing campaigns, as WT or Core, then this graph also gives me food for thought: Were my marketing campaigns responsible for the spike in visitors, or was it Omniture's campaigns that just caused a industry wide halo effect?

Also what the heck did Omniture do to cause that massive rise in traffic between end of dec 2007 and Feb 2008? Whatever they did seems to have put them on a new curve and they seems to have stayed on it since then.

Good Marketers (and great Analysts) show their true mettle by answering those questions, and then using the answer as information to optimize their own marketing strategies.

Here is one another important question the above graph raises:

Does it actually matter what an "Analyst" thinks of how each vendor should rank in this report or that? Should Omniture really sweat that they got ranked Wave One or Gold Circle or Tier One Beauty? Likewise for CoreMetrics can that Blue Ribbon "Top Cow of the Show" matter in the face of this actual Visitors behavior?

Should they (or WebTrends or Omniture) reconsider how these otherwise great companies do online marketing to get "share of voice"?

Yes.

For starters they can use their own tools, which are actually pretty good. : )

Did you see all that in three lines on a competitive intelligence graph?

That brings me to a very important recommendation: Doing competitive intelligence analysis without knowing enough context about your competitive space, your general ecosystem, is like going to play a football game naked. Won't lead to a great outcome for you (even if you paid a ton of money for your players – tools :)).

I can make better sense of those lines because of what I know of the ecosystem, then the visitor behavior screams out the insights.

Last bit of insights you can look for: Are there strengths of my competitors that I can benefit from, are there weaknesses that I can exploit?

The Also Visited report can help a bit.

You can look at this report from the perspective of any site, I am going to look at the data from the perspective of Omniture.

google trends for websites omniture webtrends coremetrics also visited

Some of the above is hardly surprising, #1 and #4 for example.

But others are quite interesting.

Omniture's worldwide series of summits are #2 in the list, and quite a nice amount of traffic at that. Since they are essentially Omniture "propaganda" (sorry Matt), it is great to see that it is effective. It raises the question, do the summits and CoreMetrics and WebTrends do give them a similar share of voice?

I am sure Omniture, WebTrends and CoreMetrics use # of attendees to measure success of their summits. How about using the above to measure success as well? Holistic impact measurement baby!

Here's another data point that is noteworthy. Both CoreMetrics and Omniture seem to benefit from a big overlap with webanalyticsassociation.org. Why not WebTrends? One of the oldest members of the WAA community and a early founder. Is the WAA biased and sends more traffic to the other two and not WT? Why don't WebTrends visitors have any overlap with those that visit waa.org? Cause for concern and investigation.

Please try it with different perspectives using the drop down immediately above the report, it can be insightful. Here's an example of that report and comparison for www.lowes.com and www.homedepot.com. . . .

google trends for websites lowes home depot also visited

See the #1 for Lowes? Scary!

Also notice the commonalities between the two and the differences. Each of that is a set of information you can use to your advantage.

Had fun? I want to point out that my hope was less to get you to use Google Trends for Websites, more to teach you how to think as you approach competitive intelligence data. I hope you learned something.

And to the CMO's of Omniture, WebTrends & CoreMetrics: Analysis like this is expensive! If you found value in this analysis by a expensive Analyst :), please make a donation to the two charities this blog supports (Doctors Without Borders, The Smile Train). Thanks!

Lastly, two important questions (probably on your mind):

#1: Is this data from Google any good?

You know me so well, great question!

For me any source of data is only as good as understanding exactly how it is captured. Hence this link at the start of this blog post: Competitive Intelligence Tools.

Google has publicly stated that it uses multiple sources of data it has access to in order to provide the data you see in Trends. Please check out "Information for Website Owners ".

lighthouse 1My personal perspective is that as currently Google is used a decent amount in terms of its products and services which means that it has aggregated permission based non-PII (personally identifiable information) that is useful. The sample size also is favorably positioned compared to other options adding to its usefulness.

It is important to know that each data source has a natural bias.

Panel based measurements use a very small sample of people, capture their browsing behavior using "monitoring software" which means they can give deeper information on a few widely used sites.

ISP based measurements typically have much larger sample sizes but shallower site level data.

Likewise Google's data, which is a mix of sources, probably has a "searcher's bias", i.e. people who use search engines.

Educate yourself and make the optimal decision for your case.

#2: Does this type of product from Google mean the end of Alexa, Nielsen, Compete, HitWise, ComScore?

Hardly.

Each tool provides something interesting of value. Some might become less relevant than others, but I can't imagine any scenario where there won't be anything but robust competition.

Here's how I bucket them by value:

Deep within a site behavior (if over five million unique visitors a month) = comScore.
Free clickstream metrics (plus paid pro version) = Compete.
Deep search and clickstream (non free) = HitWise.
Free clickstream and search metrics (not expansive) = Google.

If it is of some value let me do my own personal quick walk thru of the tools (which will also reveal any bias I have).

border 1Alexa was useful in the past but it is a less than optimal source for anything now. Ever since Compete showed up there is no need to use Alexa because compete data is on a bigger sample set, using multiple sources and more accurate. Yes it does not rank but really at the end of the day do you want a rank or better data?

Both Nielsen and ComScore have been under a heavy threat for some time because of the way they collect data (not from other companies!). Panel based measurement using "monitoring software" poses a sampling and population bias that has become much more of a challenge as the web has grown massively and become more rich / fluid / web 2.0.

Compete and HitWise are both ISP based services and frequent readers of this blog know that I am quite fond of them. Until recently when I lost access to Compete I used it all the time here and in my presentations because I think it has probably the most rich set of data sources (ISP, surveys, "monitoring software", even panels). If you have money to spend on competitive intelligence (and you should) then HitWise with its ISP based data is great source (with one of the largest sample of users in its database).

To help you think here's a metaphor for Panel and ISP based data:

Until last year the generally accepted wisdom on which commercials were best was the USA Today ranking. It was based on 302 people (!). 302 people representing the opinion of several hundred million who watched the show (and for commercials! :)). Last year the commercials were all on YouTube and were ranked by a 1.5 million YouTube Users.

Which one do you think is more accurate?

I think of Panel Based services services as the USA Today method. ISP based as the YouTube method. Not absolutely perfect, but a significantly better signal to noise ratio.

Google's data is perhaps like ISP data in the sense that it is based on clicks.

I expect Nielsen and ComScore to radically evolve their data capture mechanisms, which would enhance what they provide today (deep site behavior data). Even today if your site gets more than five million unique visitors a month you can use panel based data with some confidence.

I tend to use Compete because it has more metrics and reports, even the free version. And I use it to index against what Google might be providing. Like this:

compete omniture webtrends coremetrics

Long term I confidently expect most tools to thrive and improve. Including Google's.

[sidebar]
This goes without saying but no tool will actually show you really good data about your blog. In most cases if you don't get more than 50,000 visits a month even the wrong data won't be right. Just a quick tip.
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In the next two posts in this series:

Meanwhile I would love to have your feedback on this one.

Did you learn anything? Did you have fun? What do you think of Google Trends for Websites? Or other tools mentioned here? Would you have any other advice for Omniture, WebTrends and CoreMetrics? Should Omniture be scared of Google Analytics? :) What else would you do or look at?

Please share your feedback.

Comments

  1. 1
    Mirjam Verkerk says:

    Hi Avinash,

    For me, this one is a real eye-opener. Not so much because of what Google Trends shows, because it is a nice addition to the already available tools in this area like Alexa etc.

    But it worries me that when setting up Google Analytics for your site, the data sharing options state that the data will be used for this tool as well. You have to change this setting by going to another page, and I'm not sure whether everyone is aware of this.

    Anyone who is using this tool should think whether they want this information to be available for everyone.

    Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to seeing what is all in Google Trends.

    Mirjam

    + + + + + + +
    NOTE: The GA team has said in a recent post: "Google Analytics doesn't share individual, site-level information with Google Trends for Websites or Google Ad Planner." Read more context on the team's official blog:
    http://analytics.blogspot.com/2008/07/google-analytics-and-ad-planner.html
    -Avinash.

  2. 2
    S.Hamel says:

    Great post! :)
    Omniture sudden spike and plateau starting in January is the conclusion of their VisualScience acquisition. It's when all traffic from the former companies got redirected to omniture.com. You will notice websidestory.com goes flat in January. So the plateau change might be more an effect of "competition elimination" than real growth.

    The sudden spike in July might be caused by a number of business factors, including financial results. (Omniture 2nd Quarter revenue increase by 114% YoY, and 50% organic growth). And a number of press releases.

    In this post, you used the web analytics industry as an example. We have an idea of the level of traffic for those companies. I certainly agree that traffic might be a good indication of interest and future growth, but it's not always a good indication of actual revenues… And it doesn't tell you the market share of those vendors. You know where I'm going (shameless plug): the market research I'm conducting with WASP allows me to look at the number of sites using one web analytics solution or another, and vendor switching over time.

    An analysis such as the one you did is worth a lot of money (as you said). Imagine merging that with market share information! :) (I'm working on it…)

    Cheers,
    Stéphane

  3. 3

    While I generally agree that YouTube views is probably a better idea of commercial popularity than USA Today, it's because I suspect that the YouTube views might reflect the US as a whole.

    However, if the USA Today sample is a true statistically-valid panel, I'd still take it over a very large (but, still non-random) YouTube view count. (I write not having researched the USA Today methodology, naturally.)

    As you point out, Alexa isn't as useful as Compete anymore and it's because the sample is off. At least a while ago, the folks with the Alexa toolbar installed tended to be basement-dwelling MMORPG neckbeards. Not representative if you wanted to find out if your site was reaching suburban soccer moms.

    I've done some benchmarking using Compete and for sites with broad reach and high traffic, it's not bad. Absolute metrics won't match your internal Omniture or ComScore counts, but it's close enough for strategic planning and competitive monitoring purposes, even using the free product.

  4. 4

    Hi Avinash,
    Your postings sharpness increasing like Google's traffic. It is really one of the best post by you. The posting are really helpful to the new comer (3 years + exp).

    Warm Regards,
    Praveen Pandey

  5. 5
    Neil says:

    As someone who is starting to dive into analytics and what it means (for my own site and the company I work for's sites) this article was very insightful and gives me a lot to think about.

  6. 6
    Ned Kumar says:

    Avinash,
    You bring out a very important but oft neglected dimension in analytics — competitive intelligence (CI). We always talk about silos within the company (Marketing vs Customer Service vs IT etc), but rarely do we mention that having a siloed mentality from a market space perspective (looking at only your company and not anyone around you) is strategically detrimental no matter how good a product/service you have TODAY. One should always keep the competitive network it belongs to in their peripheral vision and use that as a launch pad for further improvements. And this is where your post serves as an excellent overview to get people started on looking at CI.

    Your comparative charts are excellent. I also feel that the value-add from CI analysis can increase tremendously if you can marry it with other external info — especially market events (mergers/acquistitions, new product launch, tech break-throughs etc). In fact, I would say that one should have a portfolio of sources and analytics that looks at internal (within company performance) and external (outside of company performance) trends.

    Great post!

    Ned

  7. 7
    Kris G says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Once again you use out-of-the-box methods to analytics that really make sense to anybody looking to get a big picture.
    It's refreshing to read since I am surrounded by people who base all decisions on unique monthly visitors and pageviews.

    To answer your questions (most of them):
    yes I had fun
    Google Trends is a great tool, and although it's data might now be very accurate, I think its still better than panel based statistics (especially since any panel in Canada consists of maybe 50 people :))
    I think as more and more people get involved in web analytics, Google Analytics will make a real run for the most popular tool to be used, basically because it's free. (look at what the "free" model has done to the classified industry!)

    Thanks again for letting me escape my work related reality for 20 minutes!

  8. 8
    Glen Barnes says:

    Nielsen Online has provided a tool called Market Intelligence for some time. In certain markets it is the measurement standard for market based data (NZ, Australia, Italy and certain verticals in other markets). The great thing about it is that it uses the same page tagging technique that GA, SiteCensus and other site based tools use so it is very accurate. No guessing traffic patterns based on toolbars, ISP logs and the like.

    When looking at the data it is great looking at sites like radio stations as the traffic patterns directly correlate to the success of competitions or other on air promos (weekly data is best for this). Using this data competitors can see what is working for the the other stations and look to emulate that same sort of promotion on their own sites.

    Glen

    Disclaimer: I'm ex Nielsen Online NZ.

  9. 9
    Jason Baer says:

    Avinash –

    Outstanding post. Thank you for the insights and thoroughness. As a long-time Hitwise user, I hadn't thought about using Google tools for similar analysis, but since I recently lost access to Hitwise, I'm going to adopt this tactic immediately.

    All the best,

    Jason Baer
    Convince & Convert, digital consulting for agencies
    http://www.convinceandconvert.com/convince-convert-digital-marketing-blog

  10. 10

    Google Trends can be a valuable tool for large scale business sites. Unfortunately it does not give competitive data for small business websites. It states "data not found".

  11. 11
    Emily Fazio says:

    Love it, love it, love it! I may or may not be unique amongst your readers in that I bookmark very few pages, and subscribe to even fewer. (It should be no surprise that your site is in the subscribe category) I added Google Trends to my bookmark list a little while back b.c of the wealth of interesting information it so simply provides. The competitive trending is stated so clearly its easy to transfer knowledge to decision makers. This is one time when I think it is valuable to break a sacred engineering rule and not properly label a graph. A good title and units are important, but having anything more than tick marks on each axis takes away from focusing on the trending, and implies a confidence in numbers that would be very hard to back up.

    I also think its so incredibly important for anyone in the web 'business' to have their hands on the 'pulse' of the internet, both inside and outside of your industry. Tools like this are extremely helpful for learning what life is like outside your cubicle. :)

    Have a wonderful day, and Thank You for my wonderful web analytics prize pack! I'm just starting back to school (ME) and I love wearing my GA shirt on campus!

    ~Emily

  12. 12
    weekee says:

    Great post as usual!

    I tried Google trend, it does provide very interesting information a very wonderful price.

    However like what Eric mention, i am not sure how small business can really use it since it doesn't really register anything. Even for bigger business, i don't think it register anything if you just started a website.

    Any idea what is the criteria that Google used to display the data? Traffic? Time period?

  13. 13
    Wil Reynolds says:

    Avinash, I like the review of the international traffic. It would be good to take a look at that metric, especially for B2B clients who have competitors who are hitting them hard internationally, it would allow us to dissect traffic trends for competitors in other countries.

    Thanks!

  14. 14

    Hi Avinash,

    You might want to check out the new tool from Google called Insights for Search:

    http://adwords.blogspot.com/2008/08/announcing-google-insights-for-search.html

    http://www.google.com/insights/search/

    Very cool stuff.

  15. 15
    Michael Notté says:

    Great to have your opinion on Google Trends. I was expecting a post on this from you as I know that Competitive Intelligence is something you like and you already posted a lot on this. :-)

    I think it is a great tool – especially for non-US markets (in my case Europe) where good-quality Competitive intelligence is rare or non-existing. When it does, it is often poor one.
    For e.g. Hitwise is only covering UK and soon France/Germany. But that's only 3 countries out of 30 European ones (ok these are 3 big ones).

    So for the few European Competitive Intelligence companies, Google Trends may be a hard blow. That's my opinion. By the way, anyone knows good CI providers (non-free) covering main European markets (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Nordics)?

    Great post and I mostly agree on the valuable insights. We already started to tap into it since it was launched.

    Cheers.

    Michaël

  16. 16
    Michael Notté says:

    By the way I forgot to add: I did a test and looked at Google Trends graph of one of our sites (German one, biggest one) for 2008. I took the data for the same period (and timescale) from our WA tool (WebTrends) and compare both together.

    It was surprising to see very similar trends. Impressing. And we do not use GA.

    Michaël

  17. 17
    Justo Ibarra says:

    Hi Avinash:

    What a nice post! Really you pointed out the value for Business Intelligence by using Google Trends.

    Unfortunately I work for latinamerican region and here mostly persons rely on Alexa ranking just for two reasons: is free and they hardly know about tool bias.

    Beside this Compete and Quantcast (why don't you mention?) booth are based into US data, so we can´t rely on them.

    So that Google Trends for Websites is a tool in which we have great expectations. (Adplanner too but I found many errors and shortcomings in relation to comScore).

  18. 18

    Fantastic post!

    This is not Analytics though – that's just data. This is Business Intelligence!

  19. 19
    sohbet odaları says:

    Very good, thanks a lot.

  20. 20

    Stephane: Awesome add of the Omniture trends.

    On the correlation to revenue and traffic volume, of course you are right. But to me it is a great indication of the "share of the nose" or even "share of customer intent". After all if you ain't got traffic you ain't gonna grow! :)

    Though in Omniture's case revenue has actually grown nicely over the time period in the graph, and perhaps at a higher pace than its competition. Profits on the other hand is a completely different story, their competitors have 'em beat there.

    I very much look forward to reading more about your market research data, I am positive it will be better than the spit balling that has been done by others.

    Ned: Thanks for the feedback Ned, I am glad you found the post to be interesting.

    You are right about external events and other "tribal knowledge". The problem is that that data does not exist in a place that could be accessed easily, especially the deeper knowledge that is relevant to these trends.

    That said, I am quite proud of how the new Google Insights for Search provides the annotated data right in the trends you search for and how at the end of each report there is a "what's changed" report! I love it. [Even though I was using that tool for a little while I could not blog about it since it only came out yesterday! :)]

    Mark: I am sure that you might not be surprised that I would not pick the USA Today panel. I think in the days when we did not have easy access to a population we stressed, tortured, "statisticified", bothered people on the phone to tell us what they thought of 90 commercials.

    I can't imagine that that tortured methodology (no matter how sanitized by non-randomness) could possibly still hold an advantage, at some point it is just a numbers thing: 302 vs 1.5 million.

    Clearly I am reveling my deep (and possibly wrong) bias. :)

    Of course one could apply some wonderful traditional methodologies to the YouTube data if they wanted, segment by Geo and extract other data (anonymous) of the raters can ensure and minor bias is excluded from the data.

    We totally agree on compete.com, I am very impressed at how good their data is (even for low traffic websites). Almost spooky!

    Kris: I wish I could truly tell you how much that last line in your comment means to me. This is a tough game, tough to play, tough to keep it up and there are a more hurdles than might be optimal. So the notion of helping someone escape reality for 20 mis is a absolute thrill to me!

    Good luck with the UVPV people! :)

    Weekee: The y axis is Daily Unique Visitors and the x axis is time. Was that your question?

    If your question was about size of website, then for small sites it is really hard to separate the signal from the noise and the tool will only report data where it has a decent signal.

    Thanks much everyone!

    -Avinash.

  21. 21

    Avinash,

    Again, you didn't even mention quantcast.com.

    Did you try them? Do you think they don't worth attention from Competitive Intelligence Analysis point of view?

  22. 22

    Hello Avinash,

    Thank you for your post. I first find about your work through my boss and a Spanish colleague (Gemma) and I enjoy reading your blog because it sparks a lot of ideas in this newbie to web analytics.

    I will definitely check out Google Trends. I tried copying the code of Google Analytics into my WordPress blog but there appears to be some issue with the code. Any ideas?

    Best regards,

    Damian

  23. 23
    Vanessa says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I am linking to your post from our blog today, and I loved your thoughts on knowing your environment before analyzing competitive analysis. I liked it so much that I am quoting it in my post today, in doing so I noticed a typo in the sentence about football, it says pay instead of play. I am fixing it in my quote and thought you might want to update it in the post as well.

    Best,

    V

  24. 24
    grace says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you so much for your blog that was written so eloquently. It's easy to understand for newbies like me. It will really help the three websites I'm trying to optimize right now.

    I wonder, when are you available for book signing here in SF or in Mt. View CA?

    Thanks again,

    Grace
    Marksmotos

  25. 25
    Tim Level says:

    Hi Aninash, I read your book and it's great. But what do you think of this tool:

    http://www.clicktale.com

    Doesn't this take the guesswork out of analytics somewhat?

  26. 26

    Hi Avinash Kaushik,

    I just tried google trends of website, and putted some website to check their trends and traffic, but could not get any results. site are below

    google.com, youtube.com, orkut.com, blogger.com

    Why it is so? Do google not want to share their own site's information.

    Regards,

  27. 27
    Munaz says:

    Hi Avinash

    I love your post and have recently got your book via amazon. It's a must read book for everyone who has fair knowledge on website.

    I also read this posting of yours on Google Trends for competitive intellegence. I often use this tool to know the search violume index of a particular keyword and accortdignly I optimize my adwords campapigns.

    How far do you think this tool helps us customize Google Ad especially in targeting geo-locations? Pls reply!

    Regds
    Munaz Anjum

  28. 28
    Emily Fazio says:

    Suresh, Thats a really good point about Google not including their own information (but including Yahoo!). I'd be interested in hearing more on this topic.

    ~Emily

  29. 29

    Dennis: My perspective on Quantcast is the same as in the past.

    Unsure of the real value in terms of others out there. When I have used the site the signal is not very strong from the noise. On paper they are certainly on the right path, I am positive in time they'll get there.

    Until then I am much happier with Compete, Google Trends for Website, HitWise and others I mention in the post.

    Grace: Thanks for the kind words! In terms of book signing, I don't have anything planned at this time. I have done signings at the various events that I speak at, perhaps one of these days our paths will cross.

    Tim: I think clicktale is interesting. For medium to large sized companies it faces the same problems that I touched on on this post about Coradiant and Tealeaf.

    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2007/11/analytics-tools-comparison-coradiant-vs-tealeaf.html

    But they are headed in the right direction. They now provide the scroll heat map report which is helpful. They are also working on segmentation which is also very nice.

    Their success will mostly be measured by their ability to 1) not make the mistakes of their predecessors 2) provide something that is actually actionable (not just "look mom I can watch a random session"!) and 3) make money. :)

    They are a young company and I want to emphasize that from the looks of it they are heading in the right direction!!

    Suresh: I was trying to find you a link to the Help article that explains why Google's data is not provided but (on vacation) it is taking me some time and at $0.75 per min (on a cruise ship!) and so I am going to skip it, but look for it on the help center and hopefully you can find it.

    The summary is that the data is not included because of a number of reasons including conflict of interest and it would mean google providing (in some way) data that could be construed as statements indicating how performance is going which could be used for trading stock or other such non-delightful activities. It might not be a easy think to internalize but regulations are regulations. BUT….

    It is important to realize that there are always alternatives if you want data for the sites you mentioned, just use Compete or HitWise (or in this case since they are all huge websites: comScore or Neilsen or Alexa or literally any of the x number of sources of competitive intelligence on the web!).

    So the data is there.

    Munaz: I apologize but I am not sure I understand your question. But let me try to guess…..

    There is certainly geo specific data in Google Trends for Websites that you can use. But if you are down to a keyword level then I am really fond of the new Google Insights for Search, it is fantastic on that level. Additionally if you have not use the keywords tool in Adwords it is new and improved recently and has a million times more data now then even a few months ago, check it out as well.

    http://www.google.com/insights/search/
    https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

    I hope that the answer you were looking for is somewhere above. :)

    Thanks for all the wonderful questions everyone!

    -Avinash.

  30. 30
    Munaz says:

    Thanks Avinash

    I really appreciate.

  31. 31
    Lisa Womersley says:

    Avinash, your enthusiasm is infectious! I'm a recent convert to Web Analytics, and nothing pleases me more than reading your blog which is a)informative and thought-provoking and b) so infectious it's contagious :) I've started working with an incredible development project in South Africa and I love that the skills I'm learning ultimately get to make a difference where I work and also in the world.

  32. 32
    Jaume Clotet says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Perhaps you may help me, is something regarding Google Trends Websites.

    For which period is calculated the Also Visited websites?

    The same result for “last 30 days” http://trends.google.com/websites?q=wikipedia.org&geo=US&date=mtd&sort=0 and “October 2007” http://trends.google.com/websites?q=wikipedia.org&geo=US&date=2007-10&sort=0

    Probably I have not understood something at all.

    Thanks in advance,

    Jaume

  33. 33

    Jaume: The bottom part of the report is for the last 30 days. This includes Also Visited, Also Searched etc.

    You can change the time frame for the main traffic trend and view multiple years, but rest of the data is the last 30 days.

    Hope this helps.

    -Avinash.

  34. 34
    Jaume Clotet says:

    Avinash,

    Thank you very much!

    Jaume

  35. 35
    Sarah M says:

    Thanks so much for all this excellent info. My bazillion-dollar clients are going to be too cheap to pay for Hitwise (though I'm still going to recommend it to them), so free sources are all I've got.

  36. 36

    I am just starting to dive into analytics myself. Your article was very insightful and gave me a lot to think about. Thanks, I will check back for updates!

  37. 37
    Brendan says:

    Avinash, I listened to your Webcast today via Automotive News. Very enlightening, thank your for your insight. I'd love to speak to you further or via email. I have one question, I run a small digital agency in Michigan and it seems the Google Web Trends data does not show most of my accounts, a few big ones, but other than compete, which sometimes I find accurate, but other times it does not match up with my G Analytics. Do you have any suggestions?

    Please touch base. Thanks again!

    Brendan

  38. 38
    ramana says:

    hi this is an excellent page which explains very deep about the google trends. it was very useful, thanks

  39. 39
    Anand says:

    Great post Kaushik. I was just browsing through the Trends and Sitemeter data for one of the websites my company owns. The geographical split is so much in dissonance. Sitemeter(the premium account which tracks more than just the last 100 visits) shows a majorly Indian traffic while Trends demonstrates a similar bias for US traffic.

    There is something about 'fishy' I will have to now research upon :)

  40. 40
    Nazlah says:

    Hi avinash..
    iam a little bit confused.. what are the units of google trends measured in? the number of visits… in thousands or millions or?..

  41. 41

    Nazlah: On the top right of the trends for websites home page you will clearly see this:

    Sign in to see and export additional Trends data.

    Go ahead and sign into your google account and go back to the graph.

    It will show you what the numbers are, as in the screenshots used in this post which clearly shows the graph is for "k", thousands of daily unique visitors.

    -Avinash.

  42. 42
    Nazlah says:

    wow.. thanks for your quick response Avinash, that was helpful :)

  43. 43
    Mark .B. says:

    Good post but you are missing out Google insights for search.. which is a perfect reference from Trends..

    All the best.

    Mark.

  44. 44
    Lily says:

    Great post! Thank you.
    I have a question. My website have lots of domaion. For example http://www.xiangrikui.com, tips.xiangrikui.com, quick.xiangrikui.com. If I use google trends to analysis my website, and I input "xiangrikui.com", the result data is all about .xiangrikui.com or http://www.xiangrikui.com? Thanks your time.

  45. 45
    Daniel Orr says:

    Great stuff! Thanks for the lessons. To answer your question about why WebTrends visitors don't have any overlap with those that visit waa.org? It's pretty clear if you visit the waa site. The Webtrends logo (link) is posted virtually out of sight (bottom left with bad color contrast) compared to Ominture and Coremetrics, which are both featured prominently on the top line of organization sponsors. Would suggest better placement and appropriate graphical presentation.

  46. 46
    Henrique says:

    Thank you for your post. I first find about your work through my boss and a Spanish colleague (Gemma) and I enjoy reading your blog because it sparks a lot of ideas in this newbie to web analytics.

  47. 47

    Sempre usei o Google Trends aqui no Brazil, outra ferramenta de destaque também é o google insights.
    Acho que o Marketing digital no nosso pais precisa evoluir muito.

  48. 48
    Chris says:

    Great article! Thanks for the post!

  49. 49
    Steve says:

    Google Trends for Websites is no longer available, unfortunately.

    • 50

      Steve: This is quite sad, and true.

      If you are in the US you can get a free account with http://www.compete.com and still get some limited competitive data about other websites.

      -Avinash.

      • 51
        tania says:

        Hi Avinash,

        Loving your book! What about if you are outside the US? Fireclick is inscrutable, Coremetrics have been acquired by IBM and are no longer free.

        Even though we are sharing our data with Google both Trends and the benchmarking feature was withdrawn and since we have gotten nothing in return for access to and use of our data. Any feedback would be most helpful.

        Many thanks
        Tania

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Avinash Kaushik has an incredibly detailed post on how to use Google Trends for competitive intelligence. [...]

  2. [...] On the latest post from web analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik, he discusses into a lot of detail the use of Google Trends as a free and acceptable competitive intelligence tool. So what is so hot about it? [...]

  3. [...]
    I am not the first to mention it, but it is just to important. So I just have to mention it on this blog.

    Competitive intelligence is now for everybody. And again it’s free.

    Avinash Kaushik, webanalytics expert and author of the book Webanalytics an hour a day, is explaining competitive intelligence on his analytics weblog. This week he is explaining the use of Google Ad Planner to get information about your competitors audience. You get demographics and psychographics about their website visitors and you can easily compare it with your own.

    He is even giving a Procter & Gamble example. So read this article.
    [...]

  4. [...] Op het internationale weblog van Avinash Kaushik "Occam's Razor" las ik twee artikelen over hoe nieuwe Google Tools te gebruiken om inzicht te krijgen in surfgedrag van potentiële bezoekers en analyse van concurrentie. Volgende week volgt er nog één. Dus ik heb weer inspiratie voor een reeks van drie nieuwe posts op dit blog! Hier volgt een vertaalde samenvatting van het eerste artikel (voor het geheel: bekijk hier het originele artikel) [...]

  5. [...] Op het internationale weblog van Avinash Kaushik "Occam's Razor" las ik twee artikelen over hoe nieuwe Google Tools te gebruiken om inzicht te krijgen in surfgedrag van potentiële bezoekers en analyse van concurrentie. Volgende week volgt er nog één. Dus ik heb weer inspiratie voor een reeks van drie nieuwe posts op dit blog! Hier volgt een vertaalde samenvatting van het eerste artikel (voor het geheel: bekijk hier het originele artikel) [...]

  6. [...] Google Trends for Websites is a relatively new – free – offering from Google which allows you to track the clickthroughs from Google to any site on the web. This means you can compare how you're doing against your competitors, which is always fun. Unfortunately, you have to get a certain amount of clickthroughs to register on the graphs, which might not make it very useful for lower-traffic sites, such as many industrial companies. However, a really good, in-depth introduction to Google Trends for Websites appeared on the Occam's Razor blog recently, and it gives you a good flavour of what this tool can do. Have a read. [...]

  7. [...]
    Por cierto, el período de calculo es de los últimos 30 días, como podemos ver en la respuesta del blog de Avinash Kaushik, http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/08/competitive-intelligence-analysis-google-trends-for-websites.html#comment-471668

    La función “also searched for” también la podemos encontrar en Quantcast, que nos sirve para hacernos una idea del perfil de los usuarios que visitan una web concreta en EEUU, ya que es el únic país analizado por Quantcast de momento.

    Por ejemplo, si buscamos apple.com en Google trends websites, segmentado para España, el resultado de “also searched for” es el siguiente:
    [...]

  8. [...] 5. Google Trends For Websites – Enter up to five topics and see how often those topics been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most. You can learn more on how to use this from our friend, Avinash Kaushik. [...]

  9. [...]
    What I’ve described rather quickly in this post is one, powerful view that the travel and tourism industry can use to get a deeper understanding of how it sits in the online world. But, as is often the case, you need to look at other areas in order to build upper a more mature understanding and so this represents just one part of the picture. In the coming weeks, we’ll develop this theme further with more tips on these free tools.

    Further reading:
    Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Google Trends for Websites
    [...]

  10. [...]
    6. Google Trends For Websites – Entre com até cinco tópicos e veja qual é a frequencia que estes tópicos são são pesquisados pelo Google ao longo do tempo.Ele também mostra qual é a frequência que seus topicos aparecem no Google News e em quais regiões geográficas a maioria das pessoas têm pesquisado mais. SAIBA MAIS

    7. Google Insights for Search – Pode-se comparar os padrões de pesquisa entre regiões específicas, categorias e períodos de tempo.
    SAIBA MAIS
    [...]

  11. [...] Enter up to five topics and see how often those topics been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most. You can learn more on how to use this from our friend, Avinash Kaushik. [...]

  12. [...] 10. Google Trends For Websites – Enter up to five topics and see how often those topics been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most. You can learn more on how to use this from our friend, Avinash Kaushik. [...]

  13. [...]
    5. Google Trends For Websites
    Enter up to five topics and see how often those topics been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most. You can learn more on how to use this from our friend, Avinash Kaushik.
    [...]

  14. [...]
    Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik has described the virtues of Google Insights for Search, Google Trends for Websites and Google Analytics Benchmarking on his blog.
    [...]

  15. [...] Avinash Kaushik, August 2008. "Competitive Intelligence Analysis – Google Trends for Websites" [Online] Work cited from URL: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/competitive-intelligence-analysis-google-trends-for-websites/ [...]

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