If you’re familiar with Google Trends, you will understand the challenge with getting historic search volume data.  That is, you can’t get actual (absolute) search volume data out of Google Trends.  Instead you get a relative search volume factor ranging between 1 and 100.  Actual search volume data is normalised to this scale so you never see the real value.

This makes it hard to compare search trends between (more than 5) keywords, or get granular search volume detail for low volume keywords when comparing against a high volume keyword.  For example, if you were to compare a keyword with search volumes around 10k/month against a high volume keyword of 1M/month, Google Trends will output the lower volume keyword pretty much as a straight line (data range 0 to 1 / 100).

To date, I’ve not been able to find another data set from Google that has given me absolute historic search volumes.  Particularly now that Google Adwords has moved to providing data ranges rather than actual figures.

To overcome this problem I decided to fetch actual volume data from alternate data sets and blend this with Google Trends so that historic data could be converted to absolute values.  It’s not a perfect truth, but it’s pretty darn good as far as trend analysis goes.

It’s been a liberating process to now have absolute search data for all our tracked search keywords going back to 2004.  There are a lot of insights that can be gleaned from this data when you are able to compare real volumes between individual keywords, or combine sets of keywords and analyse sums of volume. For example comparing search volume across product lines in retail analytics has given us a much better understanding of brand mix and product line strategy.

And the good news is we can now offer our clients absolute search volume data as part of our Search Analytics Dashboard.