Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some things you couldn't discover if you set out to find them

The search was to understand, well, search behavior: the degree to which Americans have been hunting for health content on-line.

Google trends makes it oh so easy to do (thank you)

Within moments, a trend line for the volume of searches for 'health' appeared stretching back 2 years, and other to the beginning of 2007.

Things got really interesting looking at the weekly trend. A fascinating recurring pattern emerged. The level of searching stays relatively level Monday through Thursday, but noticeably declines Friday through Sunday. The pattern recommences back on Monday. The consistency of this cycle was unexpected.

It started us as OFD wondering what could account for the trend: people abandoning their interest in health with the on-set of the weekend. Well, it makes intuitive sense. People want to cut loose, live a little, have some fun. Less interest in wanting to be immersed in the more serious topic and preoccupation of health.

Google trends makes it easy to plug in different topics, to compare a variety of trends. So we debated and explored a few options. The result was a truly startling discovery: an absolutely opposite pattern, whose exact mirror reflection of health was astounding:

It created speculation and a raft of questions.

Is this the behavior of the same people?

What accounts for the distinct switch in focus as the week progresses?

Is being at work inhibiting people from pursuing topics they are more comfortable exploring from home at the weekend?

Truly, something that couldn't have been discovered if one had set out to find it.

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