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Google Insights for Search Categories Are Largely Useless

December 01, 2010
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Google

Seeing as 2010 is winding to a close, I had the idea to do a sort of year in review for keywords, using Google Insights for Search to find patterns in the year's keyword trends. However, I got so distracted by the screwed up categories, I abandoned the post. Instead I'm just going to complain about how useless they are.

When you filter your Google Insights results for a given time period (I used 2010), the default results call into "all categories," but you can further sort those into 27 (by my rough count) categories, including "Business," "Entertainment," "News & Current Events," "Shopping," "Sports," and so on – sounds potentially useful, right? Unfortunately, whatever method they're using to sort the rising search queries into categories is pretty seriously flawed; I found glaring errors in almost every category. So I'm what I'm wondering is, are these hand-edited, or algorithmic? Either way, someone at Google is kind of stupid.

Let's take a look, shall we?

The #1 rising search in the "Beauty & Personal Care" category is "whip my hair."

 

Well, guess what, that isn't a hot new hair treatment, it's the name of a song by Willow Smith.

The #9 rising search for "Computers & Electronics" is "Eclipse" – now, it's possible this isn't an error. Eclipse is an open source foundation. But given that "twilight eclipse" is the #2 rising search in the "Arts & Humanities" category, I'm a little suspicious.

Three of the 10 rising searches in the business category involve the word "calendar" – how is this a business search? Making things worse, three of the top 10 "Health" searches are calendar keywords as well. These really don't fit in either category – they should go in "Reference."

 

The "Home & Garden" category was especially bad – yesterday, 6 of the 10 rising searches had nothing to do with homes or gardens. (The results are dynamic.)

 

Yesterday the searches in this category included "Pillow Pets" (toys), "Nook" (an e-reader), "The Good Wife" (a show), "Farmville" (a Facebook game), "Breaking Bad" (a show) and "Cydia" (an open source app).

In "Industries" we've got "Mumford & Sons" (a band) and Johnny Weir (a figure skater), while in "Shopping" we've got ooVoo (video chat software) and "tea party" (an obnoxious political movement). The #1 rising search for "Science" is "Bruno Mars" (a singer) (I find this error particularly grating). And the #2 rising search for "Recreation" is "prop 19" – look, I can see "marijuana" being classified as "Recreation," but shouldn't Proposition 19 (and "tea party" for that matter) fall under news or something like politics?

These seem like really dumb mistakes, Google – with under 30 categories, can't someone who's been alive during the past year give the top 10 searches a sanity check? If you're sorting these algorithmically, the way your algorithm deals with synonyms needs some work.

Comments

לימודי משפטים
Mar 26, 2011

It does sound stupid, however what's the use of these categories when you're searching for a specific keyword? Does it refer to this keyword search within the category?

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