What seems incongruous with this to me is that they also filter many (non-explicit) gay-related searches.
For example, typing "is my son" yields:
is my son autistic?
is my son smoking pot?
is my son ready for kindergarten?
is my son gifted?
Doing a google trends search for these four phrases along with "is my son gay?" shows that the gay query is dramatically more popular: http://bit.ly/aPNHxO
It seems like in some of those cases, knowing that others are searching the same thing could provide some comfort. I'm not sure why Google filters these queries.
Like even if a lot of people were searching it, you might not want to be inadvertently suggesting morally questionable queries to people who don't want to see them.
As such, it seems like they err on the side of caution with it. Like there are no suggestions for the word "fuck" despite the fact that it is a wildly popular query.
Their algorithm probably just ends up tagging "is my son gay" as a query that people can enter on their own if they want to search it.
That's an interesting idea and I found the results intriguing. However, the search results themselves also need to be taken into account.
For example on the search term "How can I have a blog". The author's opinion is... "These suggest that many people are still left out of technology because they find services too complicated. Need for even simpler blogging, site creation, etc. platforms?"
I disagree with this view since it presumes people already know the major blogging platforms before they search. The search itself brings up Blogger and Wordpress as the first two hits which may have satisfied users.
That queries display a lack of understanding shouldn't be too surprising. I suspect people often search Google when they don't know about a topic. If my first search were "How can I do a blog", my second may well be "What are the differences between, Blogger and Wordpress".
If people are asking about blogging on Facebook I'd be interested to know what they learned from the results of the search. i.e has their understanding increased? If so, then I'd argue we don't need further education.
Overall, I'm suggesting that perhaps Google is already solving these people's problems by connecting them with answers (to some extent).
About 25,280,000,000 results
About 2,210,000,000 results
Both match up with the suggest data.
The words at the top of the list are generic: (will, free, help, made, etc.)
As you go down the list, the words become less generic: (dream, market, people, speed, password, etc.)
You would be better off looking at Google AdWords data or http://google.com/trends
CORRECTION: as pointed out by users Adrian and Bones in the comments below and by Mark Fulton and apollo on the HN thread, I made an error in interpreting the data. The numbers given by Google for each query are not telling how frequently a query was asked, but rather, it seems, they are related to the popularity of the words and combinations of words (from the query) in a large corpus of website data. This way they are still related to how popular these words and groups of words are, however, not as queries, but as the text of websites. According to the Google Suggest help page, the suggested queries are all real queries, i.e. they have been issued in this exact form by someone, which in my opinion still makes the list below an interesting read, however my interpretation of the order as pure query frequency was wrong. I thank everyone for the feedback, and apologize for the misunderstanding. I leave the text below unedited, but consider this correction as you continue.
What confused me was this paragraph from the Google Suggest page:
Google Suggest returns search queries based on other users' search activities. These searches are algorithmically determined based on a number of purely objective factors (including popularity of search terms) without human intervention. All of the queries shown in Suggest have been typed previously by other Google users.
I put a correction on the page, please let me know if you wouldn't want your name to appear there.
However, I disagree that nothing can be learned from the data, because all these are real queries that have been issued multiple times. At the same time, I admit that the ordering is totally different from what I understood it to be.
It seems that when you use Google Suggest, the 10 suggestions are ordered differently than this number (the # of results) would indicate, perhaps that is the true popularity of a query, however, those partial orderings are insufficient to reconstruct the full ranked list of all queries.
Thanks again for pointing out the (major) error in the article.
Hmm... I dunno. I search this way all the time. Mainly because I assume a lot of other people do as well and, more importantly, it works. Am I the only one?
if that fails, if the question is related to software and/or business I will do site-specific searches at HN and lifehacker (eg site:ycombinator.com skinning a cat).
Sometimes I'll do this in reverse.
I have found that in most business settings I'm the only one who will search for things with this effort. Most people around me give up after a query or two, and then think I'm a genius when I find the information we wanted.
From mobile device, excuse typos etc
how can I lose weight
Then you start adding words for refinement ...
lose weight safe
180 how can i get fans on facebook
Maybe someone should create lots of fake profiles to
1) sell friend requests to losers who want to pad their friend list
2) sell fans for people's pages
EDIT: Actually, maybe you can sign up other Facebook users to sell themselves as friends/fans and take a cut. I'm not sure how would you would track it though.
130 how can i work with google 1150000000
166 how can i get some money 1020000000
Here are the current Google Suggest phrases on Google Canada for 'how can I':
how can i kill my baby
how can i make my breasts bigger
how can i lose weight fast
how can i lose 10 pounds in a week
how can i watch hulu in canada
how can i get my boyfriend hard
how can i get pregnant
how can i keep from singing lyrics
how can i download youtube videos
how can i tell if i am pregnant
I often use the search term 'how can i ...', and I've noticed the 'how can i kill my baby' search phrase many times over about the past 6 months. It comes and goes from the Suggest list. Very strange.
A "C Form" is a common name for a tax form in several countries, including India. Also short for concessional form.
CA is likely Chartered Accountant, an important accountancy qualification in several countries.
How can I get office/windows/etc for free: If you're new on the internet, it's going to be difficult to understand how such expensive software is ubiquitous. Office in particular costs 6 months salary in many places of the world (G8 countries: can you imagine spending $20k on an office suite?) Plus of course there are both valid, and copyright-infringing methods of getting these products for free.
How can I view a street? Google Street View - a valid question if you've seen/heard of it but don't have the name.
how can i copyright a website: It seems almost no-one understands copyright well, and copyright notices are everywhere on websites (despite copyright being automatic)
how can i get the new facebook 2010: related to phased rollouts of new features, or some scam or hoax, or both.
what version of windows 7/ office 2007 do I have? They mean which edition, Basic/Ultimate etc. Not a stupid question at all.
how can i start share business?: How can I start investing in stocks/shares.
how can i tell how tall my son will be: It's actually easy to calculate a fairly accurate prediction from the parent's height, and height is pretty important in many cultures.
Further, this is something that networks would kill for. Most people google the news they want to read. So, they could manage their editorial content better with this.
This data can have so many awesome uses...
P.S. - This comparison between Google USA and Google India is kinda right on the dot http://i.imgur.com/FPk2M.jpg Everyone I know uses a computer for one thing; porn and more porn. I think that this is a symptom of an extremely sexually repressed society. [edit: I am sorry if that sounded like a generalization, but what I intended to say is that from first hand experience and abnormally large amount of people are fixated over porn. It's kinda understandable with teenagers, but grown men and women? I know this stuff since I am sorta an unofficial tech support, so I come upon GBs of stuff that rattles the hell out of me. It might be personal bias, but I genuinely think that porn is more prevalent here due to social norms than a more liberal country kinda like Victorian england.]
Nah, you're completely right. Me and my friends have a joke: nobody has sex in India; we're all children of God. I find it unbelievable that kids at my college never discuss sex.
Yes India is a society where menstruation is a taboo. It is a "dirty thing" that girls do, or something to most men. Live in relationships are against god. Women have to be "pure" until marriage. Men can do whatever the fuck they want as long as they aren't gay or effeminate, of course.
Ah yes, the joys of indian "society", but do you know something?
I cherish people who do not live by these standards.
When you meet someone over here who treats women as human beings and considers live in relationships to be normal then you have found an outlier, and they tend to be pretty amazing folks.
I am not saying that Indians are more into sex than other populations in the world. I am remarking on how it manifests itself. I am talking about direct observation over here. I walk down the street and there is this guy who barely knows english who is watching porn on his chinese phone in the middle of the street. And this is not a one off incident.
I might have a skewed view point but I honestly believe that cultural impact works out in some pretty fascinating ways.
I do think your statement about porn is an extreme generalization but the differences in suggestions are very interesting.
P.S. - I might be the only person I know who doesn't like porn. I know it's weird, but I just find it to be undignified in a lot of ways. Oh and I didn't take the screen shots I found it online a while ago.
Seems like there's a real opportunity to take the tactics that Demand Media uses to generate ideas for articles/videos and apply it more broadly to products (see http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_demandmedia/ for a good article about Demand Media's approach). Instead of trying to generate ideas on what products people might like and test if they actually do (using an MVP or dry testing), instead figure out what they're looking for that they're not finding, and offer that.
This one is just curious.
46 how can i find my son
55 how can i get my son back
It matches what is shown to me on http://google.com/complete/search?output=toolbar&q=how%2... (note that it is NOT sorted by the number of queries)
I didn't search or visit anything related to these searches, and even have bocked google analytics tracker. Yet it's all the same on all my browsers, even those which were never ever logged in my google account.
#46 is indeed very sad.
I'd have thought of a divorce gone bad, and a father barred from seeing his son.
94 how can i get my hearing back
My favorite recently was "Do Not I...(ron clothes on body)"
And would you look at all those Facebook queries. That alone should have Google shaking in their boots!