Source: How to get data from Google Trends for charts or maps

Google Trends is interesting: Here Google compiles and aggregates search data, reflecting the interest in certain keywords or concepts. 

While search data is not the same as a poll or survey, these comparisons can provide insights, specifically for very recent developments. Surveys take time, often we get updated statistics only a few month or even a year later. So, the core offering of Google Trends is that it enables you to look-up keywords and compare their popularity, over time and per country. 

This brief tutorial shows you how to look up Google Trends, export the data and create either a Datawrapper chart or a map.

How to download data from Google Trends

The source is located at  https://trends.google.com

Example
As an example, we are going to work with a comparison of searches for some buzzwords: Deep learning, artificial intelligence (AI), Bitcoin and Ethereum. The first two are technology concepts, the latter two are about crypto-currencies. While it is not super-clear whether there is a relation at all, this is still interesting: Both broader topics have been discussed a lot lately, so the data shows the number of searches and provides a bit of comparison which line of development currently generates more interest around the world.

The Google Trends chart looks like this:

Google Trends: Search dataSource:  Google Trends

The original live chart is here:  Deep learning, artificial intelligence, Bitcoin, Ethereum


What data do we get?

Note that Google aggregates the search data for "interest over time". They do not provide the absolute number of searches, but an aggregation. Here is what the Google Tooltip says about the structure of the data

"Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Likewise a score of 0 means the term was less than 1% as popular as the peak." Source:  Google Trend

Step by step tutorial

1. Download the data

Click on the arrow in the upper right of the chart,

This will download the data to your computer in the .csv format (comma-separated values, a common, simplified data exchange format which is understood by any spreadsheet software).

2. Search for the data on your computer - it should be in "Downloads" or your desktop

3. Clean/check the data in a spreadsheet 

Although we downloaded a .csv the format of the data is not ready for upload into Datawrapper. So, we are taking a side-step and upload the .csv first to a Google Sheet (Excel would work too). Below is a screenshot. From reading about how this data is structured we understand that these are aggregated values, not absolute search numbers. Here is a link to this spreadsheet

4. Upload into Datawrapper

Simply copy the data and drop it into step one. Data is recognized correctly, as expected. Note that in the original data each entry had "worldwide" added. We got rid of this, such redundant info is better once mentioned in the description. 

5. Create a line chart

We have some specific options here to enhance the chart further, such as range annotations and text annotations to guide the reader to this story. Note that the information about what data that is added to the notes field under the chart. Same for the source and a link to the source. 

6. Other options to work with Google Trends data

The Google Trends data has more facets than just interest over time. For example, you can look up in which countries interest in certain words or concepts is stronger or weaker. 

And you can compare search interest for just one topic per country, too. For example, interest in Bitcoin is specifically strong in Nigeria - it would need more research to determine why this is the case.

Create your own search data comparison with Google Trends

Did you know that you can create your very own Google Trends analysis on basically every word? Simply add words to a custom chart to get the data. To add another word click on the "+"-Sign to the right. What would be concepts of interest to you or your audience?

Why and when use this source

If you are now asking why one should download and then upload data which is in a chart and then create another chart: Firstly, Datawrapper charts have some features such as annotation which can enhance the story. Secondly, specifically if you have a Team Account a custom layout will show the data based on your style guide, with your logo - not just as a copy or embed of a Google Trends chart. 

While both approaches are possible (embed or reproduction) we think that in the long run publications should put their own brand first to gain trust. Finally, imagine that you do a story about either Bitcoin or Deep Learning and use other sources beyond Google Trends: This would result in a rough collection of charts in different styles. 

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