My Thoughts on Google Trends for Websites

Google recently launched the Google Trends for Websites. It is quite different from Google Trends (without the Websites) because the former tracks for website traffic trends over time while the latter tracks on keyword frequency over time. Both tools sport similar layout so for those familiar with Google Trends can see an almost flat learning curve with this new release. With its launch, Google Trends for Websites join the ranks of Alexa, Compete and other website traffic tracking sites.

Google Trends for Websites

But as I examine the reports, there is a minimum amount of traffic a site must receive before data will be displayed on Google Trends for Websites. If your or my site doesn’t attract a considerable amount of traffic, then we can’t see anything on the Google Trends for Websites report panel. It’s funny that the Google Webmaster Central blog mentions this. Maybe I am wrong; the author only meant to webmasters of bigger sites. This about trends so does it mean that for a site that attracts a few hundred visitors a day, our sites almost mean nothing in this tool. Maybe Google can arrange it in a smaller scale so we can still see the curves? I can excuse Google for not showing a longer time frame.

As it is only within its labs version, there may be numerous bugs that can be discovered in this tool. Google promptly announces this:

Keep in mind that Trends for Websites is a Google Labs product and that we are experimenting with ways to improve the quality of the data. Because data is estimated and aggregated over a variety of sources, it may not match the other data sources you rely on for web traffic information.

And in terms of data being estimates, here’s what Google has to say:

It’s important to keep in mind that all results from Trends for Websites are estimated. Moreover, the data is updated periodically, so recent changes in traffic data may not be reflected. Finally, keep in mind that Trends for Websites is a Google Labs product, so it¡¦s still in its early stages of development and may therefore contain some inaccuracies.

Another interesting observation (echoed from Michael Arrington) is that while Google Trends for Websites can display data for other sites, it doesn’t disclose website traffic stats for Google owned properties. Try google.com and you’ll only find the message saying “Your websites – google.com – do not have data to display.”

While you can mine keyword data, as Barry Schwartz explains the amount of data displayed is minimal (often less than ten, if any).

I don’t see much value into this tool unless the following areas are addressed:

1. Data for smaller sites are displayed
2. Google won’t mind showing its stats
3. A more accurate figure (getting off the Labs)

Google can always claim that the service is free and provides insights instead of accurate reports. But I guess a lot of webmasters who use Google Analytics don’t know how to opt-out of this service. So whether we use Google Trends for Websites or not, our website data is up for grabs for our competitors to see.