Questioning Google

Posted on 22nd September 2017

Google Trends provides data on the search terms used by people searching on Google. Google Trends provides this by time (at various granularities dependent on the total time period requested), and by country (and by finer granularities in some countries).

Looking at the data in the chart below we can see that the way in which people use Google in the UK has changed distinctly from 2008 onwards.

Here I have looked at the proportion of people searching for terms including any of the following terms; "how", "why", "what", "where", "when, "can", and "which", and compared this with the proprotion of people who's searches included the term "the". The first set of terms indicates that the person searching on Google is asking a question of Google, and the second term provides a useful generic benchmark.

We can see from the data that the proportion of people asking questions on Google has been increasing since 2008 and reached its highest monthly proportion in January 2017. Between January 2008 and January 2017 the proportion searches on Google in the UK that were asking questions tripled. This shows how the behaviour of people on Google has evolved as Google has become more sophisticated. Google aims to give people the information they are looking for, and in many cases now, Google places the information that the person is looking for directly on the Google results page, rather than requiring people to click through to the information provider's site. As Google have been advancing this method of delivering information to people, people have been adapting their searches to ask more direct questions of Google, rather than searching for the brands, products, or words that they think will result in finding the site that will provide them with the information they need.