Alister Cameron // Blogologist

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Google Trends, the English language, keyword research, and your baby’s fanny… err, bottom!

I was playing around in Google Trends today, comparing the terms “nappy” and “diaper”. And no surprise, diaper comes in well ahead of nappy, I assume because Google traffic is very favourably weighted towards American English speakers (and, err, typers), overall:

nappy vs diaper

You can immediately see from this graph that the proportions remain the same even when the volumes move up and down. Globally, diaper is a more popular term than nappy.

Continuing to play around, and being an Aussie, I localized the same comparison to Australia:

nappy vs diaper - AU

What immediately leapt out to me from this graph was how completely absent diaper is as a search term in Australia. It’s just not there as a search term! Australians don’t use the word and we don’t think to search for the word in order to find American English references.

So that got me thinking about choosing keywords in SEO. We’ve all learned to pick our misspellings carefully, to look at synonyms and so forth, but I am curious how well we handle the differences in American and “English” English?

I continued playing around with Google Trends and had some fun with the differences… more on that in a moment.

But back to baby bottoms…

Google also provides trend data broken down by regions and cities and I realised this could be quite cunningly used to detect interesting things about a given city or region. Let me demonstrate…

nappy vs diaper - regions of the world

Some of what you see in the graph is what you’d expect, but some is not! For example, would you ever have predicted that people in Ireland are almost evenly split between nappy and diaper?! No way!

(It occurs to me that Google has a large operation in Ireland, and maybe the volume of the keyword diaper may reflect all the US staff there skewing the data… or maybe not!)

Again, South Africa shows an almost even split. Why is that? And more importantly, if you’re Kimberly-Clark, selling bottom-wear to Irish or South African parents… what word are you going to use in your web marketing?! (Seems in this case, the brand is so strong it’s actually the only word they use… d’oh – bad example.)

And hey, while we’re looking, who’d have quessed that there are more American English-speaking Googlers in Holland by a huge margin?

Back in my neck of the woods, the graph shows the ratio across the different cities of my fine land:

nappy vs diaper - AU cities

And nothing there is particularly earth-shattering EXCEPT that apparently there are no Americans in Tasmania! That’s no suprise to any of us in mainland Australia, who are pretty sure that the inbreeding that supposedly goes on down there must have something to do with their isolation from the rest of the word (I’m going to get killed for that!).

So what?!

It is my humble suggestion, dear reader, that Google Trends is capable of rendering a lot of valuable assistance to us SEO people and others researching what words and phrases people use. It will mean that we stand the chance of driving, perhaps, a lot of extra traffic, just by going to the trouble of catering to our non other-English speakers. The data supports the idea that there are a lot of potential customers and site visitors just not getting to you coz you speak a different brand of English… think about it and how it might relate to your business or your SEO projects…

Try it for yourself…

Here are some more Google Trends comparisons based on the differences between you Americans and “the rest of us” (hat tip to the authors of this page for help):

That will do for now… you get the idea, I’m sure.

So my question in all this, is how much do so-called UK vs US English differences make an impact on SEO of sites targeting an international market? Have you seen greater results from taking the time to, as it were, cover both keywords?

seo, keywords, search engine optimisation, english language, american english, internationalization, keyword selection


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  1. Posted 12 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    Interesting, but how exactly do you find synonyms for keywords in other languages. What I mean is that it’s easy to find synonyms for your keywords in your own language, but hard to do for other languages. Like in America, they say elevator while in Britain they say lift. Is there a tool to show alternate words for these things?

  2. Posted 12 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister,

    Interesting post. Don’t forget the all important monetize vs monetise!

  3. Posted 12 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Nice — this is a definitely cool way to determine the trends. Unfortunately, I don’t actually know the words that are usually used in lieu of American English words, so that’s where the research needs to come in next. 🙂 I’ve learned so many new words when I went to the UK, which to me was quite a surprise.

  4. click
    Posted 10 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    I have been a guest of this home page! ZiPiTiDuYa… ZiPiDiHey…

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. s just the tip of the iceberg though, and Google Trends is great for the research that reveals these differences as you search engine optimise your site/s for an international audience. There’s a lot of traffic you’re missing out on if you don’t!read more| digg story Posted in | Comments Off

  2. […] Google Trends, the English language, keyword research, and your baby’s fanny… err, bottom! […]

  3. […] “Google Trends, the English language, keyword research, and your baby’s fanny… err, bottom… […]

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