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If you happen to be in a market where you like to be cutting edge – and up to date with trends online as they happen, then you are going to need to find your information from a variety of sources. Chasing the news and being first always has its rewards from a traffic perspective, and as the web is becoming more and more real-time its never been a better time to keep your finger on the pulse.
It’s also well worth investigating what or who is hot property when coming up with linkbait ideas and viral marketing campaigns. If you can tap into buzz that already exists, you are half way to getting off the runway.
Fortunately the web being what it is, there are a number of places that provide this information free of charge, and also allow you to easily consume that information for use on your own site or for your application. I keep an eye on these incase a common theme pops up that I can use – here are some of them.
Aol Hot searches.
Aol provide the data from their search engine for all to see via their subdomain. It seems pretty accurate too, and allows you to subscribe to the trends feed easily via RSS. Whilst it also includes blog post material as well, any savvy programmer worth their salt could easily get rid of that and tokenise the results for easier consumption should you need to use it in any application.
Built with Java and the Digg API- this tool from neoformix.com shows common themes in the text found in Digg story titles and descriptions. A graph showcase the frequency of words may help you to decide on what keywords and terms generate a reaction rather than just the ones that are likely to generate traffic. May also be helpful as part of a marketers toolkit on keyword research.
Google Hot Trends
As I’ve mentioned before, Google trends provides this sort of information daily, including hot trends. Again, an RSS feed is readily available. The data does seem to be more U.S based, which is to be expected considering the majority of traffic hitting Google from the US. It would be nice to be able to get an RSS feed which was country specific. I imagine this may be expanded at some stage upon with the level of localisation happening within Google per country now. Its also worth pointing out the Google Zeitgeist for 2009 which is released annually giving an overview of trends for the year.
Where better to stay up to date with whats happening around the web than to check it in real-time. Hot trends on Twitter appear on the search page itself and on the homepage. An feed of twitter hot trends can be found by diving into the API. Clicking through the results gives you the Twitter stream, and associated conversations around a term.
If thats not enough there are a variety of startups utilising Twitter trends and presenting them to you with pretty graphs and what not. Enter Trendistic
If celebrities are your bag, or you happen to be famous yourself – you can find out what is trending in the celebrity world easily via Bing’s XRank tool. It’s an interesting experiement built on top of Microsoft’s Silverlight application that has taken a small niche of information and providing it in an engaging way. Nice to see from the Bing team who continue to impress me with some of their recent developments in search.
Yahoo not to be left out in the cold provide a couple of “hot trend” type applications. Firstly their social bookmarking tool Delicious provides an overview of URL’s which are being saved on the web at any one time. Sometimes trends can be spotted via this if you happen to notice a news piece. i.e. Tiger Woods admitting infidelity public made the home page, along with as did numerous high profile sites covering the news. In addition to this Yahoo Buzz provides a Digg / Reddit like application where active users are asked to vote up a story they find interesting at the time.
The buzzlog app utilises all of this data to give you insight into what is buzzing, via terms. Leaders and Movers are both listed along with corresponding RSS feeds for each.
Alexa provide hot trend data via their toolbar. As with their traffic gauging tools this isn’t a terribly accurate way of measurement as it only targets a small subset of users. However their hot URL data does seem to be on the money. Worth keeping an eye on none the less.
Lexicon aggregates and analyzes millions of Facebook Wall posts every day across the Facebook platform to provide a searchable database of trends over time. This is Facebook’s answer to Twitter’s search as they chase real time data. The difference between lexicon and twitter search reflects the audience profiles, with Facebook having a slightly younger audience. There is a new version also available that showcases the data with graphs, and the data is available in CSV format.
Hitwise Data Centre
Hitwise keep an eye on traffic trends and frequently have their finger on the pulse of the web. Their blog is often a source of interesting facts and figures from around the web, and their data center (linked) offers a summary of that data. Fast moving terms and search terms are also tracked and are available via RSS. Also highly recommend adding their blog to your list of must reads.
Update 11th Jan 2010 – Just stumbled across this worth mentioning.
Ebay pulse picks the trends, hot picks and cool searches which are happening across the Ebay network. Affiliate marketers may find this sort of data useful to help decide what products to sell. Used in conjunction with seasonal trends data, could help you out tremendously in making decisions.
Ask Top Searches
Ask showcase the popular searches which are occuring on Ask, including News results, Movies, and ‘getting hot / advancing searches’ are all included