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'Trends for Websites' Makes a Popularity Contest

'Trends for Websites' Makes a Popularity Contest

Google has launched Trends for Websites, a Google Trends spin-off that builds comparative charts of website traffic.

The original Google Trends enables users to compare the popularity of certain keywords in Google's search engine. For an example, see Desperate Housewives versus Footballer's Wives.

But Google Trends for Websites may be useful to publishers seeking information about a site's popularity in relation to industry rivals. It also provides data on other sites most commonly visited, and related searches — which could enable pay-per-click marketers to harvest new keywords.

But the tool's effectiveness isn't quite what it could be. Michael Arrington observed that if "all the data being gathered by Google for the product is from Google users (their toolbar, for example), [then] the data for Google's sites would be skewed to 100% of all internet users."

Elaborating on that, A VC explained that all third-party measurement services, including comScore, Compete, Hitwise and NetRatings, begin with skewed data. "The trick is to understand how your data set is skewed and apply statistics to take that bias out," which these firms do, thereby improving their data.

"If Google wants to be a player in this market, they'll have to invest time and energy doing the same," A VC concluded.

What's more, Trends for Websites does not reflect audience data of Google sites, including Google.com, Orkut or YouTube.

"We have policy of not providing interim financial guidance, and have decided not to release Google numbers in accordance with that policy," a Google rep explained.


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