Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Google Trends does basic comparative metrics

June 22nd, 2008 by Seb Chan

Google Trends has started to allow domain level searches. This means that you can now pull up rough traffic figures, as calculated by Google, on any top level domain (subdomains like play.powerhousemuseum.com or artgallery.nsw.gov.au won’t work), and compare them to others. This moves Google Trends into territory covered by services like Compete, Quantcast (both US-centric) and, to a lesser extent, Hitwise.

What is interesting about this is Google Trends is that the data is presumably gathered via a mix of search traffic analysis and anonymised Google Analytics data. Users can also filter by region and year – region filtering is especially important if you want to argue the case for online traffic converting to through the door visitation.

Unlike Compete and Quantcast, the two other major free comparative analysis tools (I don’t recommend Alexa at all), the Google data has good international coverage which is especially important if you are not based in the US, or you want to probe particular geographies (is your Chinese traffic growing? Why are so many Indonesians looking at the Saatchi Gallery site?)

The figures almost certainly won’t correlate with the traffic figures you are measuring via your server logs (which will be over inflated by as much as a factor of 10 for reasons I’ve previously covered), or even your Google Analytics data itself.

As always, it is not the raw figures that matter but the trends and patterns. Also, as we all should know by now, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality – and we really need to be looking more at this with comprehensive audience evaluation and user studies.

But still, here’s a couple of interesting comparative reports to get you started. You can pivot by each organisation using the pull down under the resulting chart to see ‘related search’ and ‘related sites’ data.

Powerhouse Museum vs Australian Museum vs Museum Victoria

Brooklyn Museum vs Guggenheim vs MOMA vs SFMOMA vs Cooper Hewitt

British Museum vs Science Museum vs Victoria & Albert Museum vs National Maritime Museum vs Tate

Smithsonian vs Saatchi Gallery (take a look at the ‘also visited’ and ‘searched for’ for the Saatchi . . . it is very revealing)

ABC TV vs Sydney Morning Herald vs News Limited

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