Using Google Suggest as a research tool

I am not a huge fan of Digg, but I occasionally watch the online show Diggnation, and I got this idea from a story that they profiled a couple of weeks back. The background to the story is this – when you start typing a term into the search box on Google, a feature called Google Suggest displays suggestions about what you might be trying to type. According to Google, this functionality uses an algorithm to predict the queries that users are most likely to want to see, and does not base the suggestions on a user’s personal search history.

The story that was profiled on Diggnation was about someone who typed in a bunch of terms and took screenshots of the results. What he found was very interesting. To just pick one example – for the expression “Is it safe to…” the results were: look at a lunar eclipse, travel to kenya, reuse the same water bottle over and over, fly when pregnant, paint while pregnant, travel to Israel, travel to Cuba, tan while pregnant, and eat snow. Check out the full list here.

It occurred to me that I could use this tool for research, to help me determine general consumer interest in a topic as well as search term popularity. (The screenshot below is from a search I did to help me gauge interest in various terms for the Orthopedic Product Guide.)

There are other ways to use this tool, as well. The guys on Diggnation did a competition to see how many letters it took for each of their names to be suggested. (They tied.) I played along – but am sad to admit that my name was never even suggested.

Google suggest orthopedic

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