Google Cuts Google Trends Again. Hot Topics Gone

Google, the giant Internet search company with the paranoid PR people, has paired down Google Trends, once again. Indeed, since 2004, Google had a trends analysis system called Google Zeitgeist, but at that point was slow to update it until bloggers screamed about the issue; Google started multi-times daily updates in mid-year 2007.

On May 22nd, 2007, Google rolled out "Hot Trends" which was to enable...

"users to see a list of the current top 100 fastest-rising Google search queries in the U.S. Users can also select specific dates to see what the top-rising searches were at a given point in time."

Over time, Google Trends grew to become a popular tool for bloggers to use to determine what topics were hot: a necessary tool in a new media environment driven by web traffic and revenue from ads placed on website, and affiliate marketing programs. Google Trends helped make it possible for bloggers to make money from their efforts, just by focusing on the popular trends of the day.

But, in September of 2009, Google shrank Google Trends from 100 words to 40, and some bloggers pointed to spam websites as the reason for the decision.

Then, the next year, 2010, Google reduced the list from 40 keywords to 20 keywords, and split the results between "news" and "blogs" or those results from the all-but-hidden Google Blog Search.

Now, Google's removed the "Hot Topics" section from Google News, and says it's been meshed in with Google Hot Searches in the Google Trends system.

But one look reveals that's not true. Google "Hot Topics" would give you the real-time updates, with the Twitter tweets of the moment, and even rank the most popular tweets, which is how the top presented became "hot."

That's gone. Google didn't move it to "Hot Searches," the real time search reporting system is just gone. Period.  And Google Blog Search, while comprehensive when you find it, is hard to locate if you don't know about it.

Google Blog Search is something one has to know exists to find it. In fact, my complaint about how Google News operates and how Google presents Google News is that Google places it at the top page of a search result, but doesn't do that for Google Blog Search.

That was a central focus of my complaint to the FTC about Google News last year, and just after what I called The Google Saturday Night Massacre of blogs off Google News . Google has consistently and openly worked to help "traditional media" gain revenue, but this has come at the expense of blogs and bloggers.

For example, do a search for "Zennie62" On Google. Do you see a list for "Blogs" on the first page?  No. You see a list for  "Web, Images, Videos, Maps, News, Shopping, Gmail, more." Blogs, are way down past the "more," and you have to think to click on "more" then scroll down a long list to see it.

It's almost a metaphor for how Google thinks about blogs and bloggers: as a group to be hidden and diminished in favor of traditional news, not next to news. This is done, even as more and more people get their news from blogs.

Bloggers are not the reason for the Google Trends malware problems of 2007-2008, website builders are. And bloggers have been the source for many news stories that Old Media players have then, er, forgot to credit them for.  Yet, Google protects Old Media, which should be forced to adopt, not saved from evolving.

At the rate Google Trends, and other trend services from the large search engines, are going, bloggers will not have a resource to determine who's searching for what.   That will eventually spell death for Google, because it opens a market that both Twitter and Facebook and smaller search companies like Blekko, can exploit.

Google's own "trend" of giving less and less data that bloggers and readers can use, also makes the public blind to the real search actions.  That should be against the law.  Google and all other search engines should be legally required to tell us, on a moment-by-moment basis, what's being searched for.  It's important to know because such information is the real key to what's happening in our society.  Moreover, it's not "fixed" news, and takes power away from news editors, some who want to dictate what you should read, and by extension, what you should think.

That's not democratic at all.  And in an industrial society being increasingly democratized by digital media, Google's search reporting moves over the last five years add up to a step in the opposite direction.  
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