Friday, October 12, 2007

Trending your Google Search Habits

I recently stumbled upon Google Web History, which uses the Google Toolbar to record and make your every move on the web searchable by you (if you desire). Alternatively, it can be set to just record your Google search history.

That's cool, especially because you can delete individual searches and visits from your history if you don't want them to show up. But the most interesting feature to me is the Trends feature. In addition to showing your most common queries, sites, and pages, it also aggregates your history by month, day of the week, and hour of the day.

Here at work, our flagship product is a web application, and our traffic logger can also calculate these statistics, so I decided to overlay them (N ~ 8.5M) against my own Google search history (N ~ 6K). The two series are normalized to have the same total area.

As you can see, I do the vast majority of my searches during the week. This is for a few reasons:
  1. I use Google extensively for my job.
  2. I use my computer less on the weekend.
  3. I rarely work over the weekend (thankfully).
What about the hourly breakdown (all times US/Eastern):

This one is a bit more interesting. The blue series shows usage peaks during the late morning and early afternoon, with the typical lunch break in the middle. Our customers are entirely within the United States, and almost everyone is done using our site by 6PM EST. The overnight tails are primarily internal use from our Asia operations.

I'm not exactly an early riser, and usually my day begins by responding to email, so there is a significant lag between our site's activity and my own Googling. There is definitely a lunch break in my sample, but I think the jaggedness of the midday is more due to sampling error than anything else. The drop at 20 (8 PM) is probably because I usually have a later dinner. Then the activity picks back up.

I wonder what I searched for at 6 AM? Wait, Google can tell me! Turns out most of my crack-of-dawn searches are for WBZ and maps: must have been traffic reports and driving directions for early departures.

What's in your search history?

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