Posted August 18, 2009 9:37 am by with 13 comments

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Google knows what you’re going to be searching for in 12 months from now! OK, maybe not all the things you’ll Google–it can’t predict the next celebrity scandal or social media phenom–but, for general search queries, it knows all about you.

In a new white paper just released, Google reveals how its working to predict future search trends.

I’m not a mathematician, so appreciated this basic summary:

For each trends sequence of interest, we take a point in time, t, which is about a year back, compute a one year forecasting for t based on historical data available at time t, and compare it to the actual trends sequence that occurs since time t. The error between the forecasting trends and the actual trends characterizes the predictability level of a sequence, and when the error is smaller than a pre-defined threshold, we denote the trends query as predictable.

Piece of cake!

Some of the findings include:

  • Over half of the most popular Google search queries are predictable in a 12 month ahead forecast, with a mean absolute prediction error of about 12%.
  • Nearly half of the most popular queries are not predictable (with respect to the model we have used).
  • Some categories have particularly high fraction of predictable queries; for instance, Health (74%), Food & Drink (67%) and Travel (65%).

And, as the chart below demonstrates, Google’s margin of error stays pretty consistent even when making predictions 9 months out!

Go ahead and leave a comment with your thoughts on the paper–I predict a few of you will. 😉

  • Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

    The first thing I thought was, ah hah! Math! My math degree in use!

    Google will end up taking over the world, so their advances really don’t surprise me…..
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..BY Invitation ONLY – Income Fitness Launch =-.

  • Tad Miller

    Math is Hard!

  • Allen Taylor

    I could have predicted this was coming. Google wants to know it all. The question is, how can Internet marketers use that information to help them better use the tools available? I’m presuming that some element of the trends predictions will be public – perhaps through Google Trends? If that is the case then this could be good news for all marketers. I am relieved, however, that this is trend-related and not personal, though it is highly likely that Google could perform the same trend analysis on a micro level.
    .-= Allen Taylor´s last blog ..How $5 Doubled My Income Within 7 Days =-.

  • Allen Taylor

    OK, just read the article at the GoogleResearch blog. It looks like this information will be made public through Insights for Search.
    .-= Allen Taylor´s last blog ..How $5 Doubled My Income Within 7 Days =-.

  • Andy Beal

    @Allen if you click the link above, you go to the Google blog post and see the link to download the full research paper.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Makes sense to me. Anyone who actually uses Google keyword tools and has been following Google Hot Trends for over a year now can see this.

    TV shows, holidays and annual events all can be predicted as hot trends on Google.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Bing Shows You Who Is On Your Shared IP =-.

  • Tinh

    That is wonderful feature but not sure how exactly it is all about.
    .-= Tinh´s last blog ..Google, Công Cụ Tìm Kiếm Làm Hài Lòng Khách Hàng Nhất =-.

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  • Manish
  • Lee

    Wow. That is really interesting. I must wonder how-long it took Googles statistics people to come-up with a reasonably accurate formula?
    Keep up the interesting posts!.
    .-= Lee´s last blog ..Cheap Hosting For Everyone!!! =-.

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  • HTBW

    Interesting thought, the question comes, will Google actually be predicting the results, or will their public predictions control the results. With all the blogger out there looking to be the top of the trends, who is to say they won’t be looking at the predictions and looking for content within those parameters. Great way for Google to sell ad space though.
    .-= HTBW´s last blog ..Kelly Clarkson Photo Scandal? =-.

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