Google Correlate: A New Way To Research Keyword Popularity & Trends

Correlate: Red BullI love search data. Being able to mine through millions of search queries to find out what people are really interested in is fascinating (and useful!). Google provides search data a number of ways, including Google Trends, Google Insights for Search, and via the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, and Microsoft has some great stuff via its Excel Advertising Intelligence add in (if you have Office 2007 or higher running on Windows).

Google has also done some cool things with search data, including forecasting Flu Trends and predicting the impact of the Gulf oil spill on tourism in Florida. Now, they’ve created a tool to enable you to correlate search trends with any data you might want to throw into the mix. How awesome is that? (Hint: very awesome.)

With Google Correlate, you can upload data charted over either time or space and Google will look for matching patterns in search volumes. If you don’t have data of your own to upload, you can simply specify search terms, and Google will calculate the trending pattern and show matching patterns.

As Google notes in their documentation, this is sort of the opposite of Google Trends:

Google Correlate is like Google Trends in reverse. With Google Trends, you type in a query and get back a data series of activity (over time or in each US state). With Google Correlate, you enter a data series (the target) and get back a list of queries whose data series follows a similar pattern.

It appears that right now, you can either upload time-based data or state-based data (but not international data). You can even just draw a line on a graph and see what correlates!


I have apparently drawn the line that most correlates to people searching for Homelife Communities (an Atlanta builder):



The comic Google created to explain the new tool is careful to point out (multiple times!) that correlation does not necessarily equal causation.  The states where Glee is performing in concert and searches for [the dreamiest] may have the same spikes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the two are related.

Correlation Does Not Equal Causation!

They might be though. At O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 conference last month, I did an Ignite talk showing that people were interested in Rebecca Black everywhere, but were only really interested in March Madness in states that had teams participating.

Interest in Rebecca Black:

Interest in Rebecca Black

Interest in March Madness (states with participating teams and state-based search interest):

March Madness Search Volume

I feel like there could be some really interesting integrations between this and Google’s Public Data Explorer, but Google Correlate is in labs, so give it some time.

If you want to check it out for yourself, Google has a tutorial, FAQ, and whitepaper.


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Features: Analysis | Google: Correlate | Google: Labs | Google: Trends | SEM Tools: Keyword Research | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

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  • Schurik
  • mik dunne

    Interesting tool. Do google plan to roll this out for the UK and Europe?

  • G.I.L.

    As always, Search Engine Land remain a step ahead of me. Every morning I open my tabs to read news etc. It just happens to be that every day I open Search Engine Land first with Google’s blog right after that.

    If it were the other way around, I would’ve discovered Google correlate before reading about it here!

    This may be by chance, but it’s a daily routine and I therefore put Search Engine Land before Google’s Official Blog!

  • Jason
  • V.

    I gave it a shot with the data I have for Alexander McQueen (royal wedding) and the Sendai Earthquake. The Results? Nothing remotely close to any mention of either.

    I LOVE the idea but it looks like it needs a lot of tweaking.

  • chrissponias

    Very interesting information. I hope that in the future we will be able to upload international correlated data.

  • Gloria Katrina Bea

    I guess it would take a little more time for this new tool to work miracles. After all, Google Correlate is still in its infancy. We’ll see more of it as time goes by (and I bet it will be as universal as the search engine is).

  • brianfosse

    According to Google Correlate, our sales over the past year correlate highly with searches for “exercising”. This makes perfect sense, after all, we do sell showers and tubs. Add a bathroom upgrade to the long list of exercise benefits ;)

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