Can you tell us a bit about how Google Trends works?
What Google Trends does is take a sample of the searches people make on Google to figure out how high the search interest for a given keyword is at any given time — relative to the total amount of searches. For example, after the now infamous Will Smith Oscars incident, we saw searches for “Will Smith Oscars” increased by 500 times.
We also make an educated guess about where the searches are coming from, and that’s how we are able to display a map of search interest in different places. We do this based on the data flowing through Google Search day in and day out — so we’re able to see the search interest from 2004 all the way up to just a few minutes ago. This is really helpful in understanding how the interest in different topics changes over time and in different places.
A lot of researchers and journalists use Trends as sort of an anthropological tool to give them a view into what interests people in private, but may not be in the collective consciousness. For example, you can use Google Trends to help detect local disease outbreaks long before disease control centers detect them, simply by looking at where people were using Google to look up their symptoms.