Tapping the Zeitgeist: Powerful tools for spotting online trends


One of the most fabulous aspects of the online world is that trends are visible as never before. Since people’s interests are visible in what they search for and where they go, the zeitgeist becomes visible. Here is a brief review of some of the tools that give us insights into up-to-the-minute views on what we are collectively thinking and following.

Google Trends


Google’s original Google Zeitgeist was replaced in May by the current Google Trends, which allows you to compare searches made on terms, correlates these with news and events, and enables you to drill down to activities in regions, cities and specific languages. The Hot Trends feature shows the hottest searches (as in most increased relative to usual levels) of the day.

Yahoo! Buzz


This recently improved service from Yahoo! has similar functionality to Google’s Hot Trends, in showing daily hot searches, though shows far more details in the changes and trends. The information is also available as an RSS feed, so can be incorporated into other applications.



Now under the Nielsen Buzzmetrics umbrella, Blogpulse has a range of features to compare how terms are appearing in the blog world. You can then click on any day or highlight to see the individual blog posts and activity that made up that outcome. Conversation Tracker follows conversational threads and Featured Trends are editorially-selected trend comparisons.



Technorati has several features to track trends in the blogosphere, including a tag cloud of recent tags to blog posts showing blogging activity trends. Technorati charts enables tracking of trends for individual terms, and allows you to embed those charts on your website or blog, however does not allow comparison of terms.


Just released, this site lists the Wikipedia pages that have received the most edits over the previous selected period. It also shows details of the number of daily edits over the last month for these terms. This provides a quite different insight into what people are finding interesting.


Andrew Pipes comparison of Google Trends and Yahoo!Buzz

Josh Catone review of Wikirage