Introduction

Google Search continues to be the dominant internet search engine. Trends in internet keyword searches over time monitor the growth (and waning) of products and topics.

Google provides a keyword search tool called Google Trends that allows users to map relative keyword searches over time and compare multiple keyword search trends. I recently examined the trends related to the search term medical app on Google Trends.

I found some expected and unexpected findings in this analysis. This is the first post in a series highlighting interesting insights from this untapped source.

Methods

Google Trends can be found under the even more tools on the Google Search page. I entered medical app under the first search term and then added some additional related search terms (weight loss app, diabetes app) for comparison. Google Trends produces a relative search frequency by term graph as well as information about global and regional distribution of specific term searches.  A Google Trends timeline screenshot as well as two geographic screenshots for medical app searches were analyzed.

Results

The first screenshot shows the graph for Interest over time for these three keyword searches. The graph is scaled from 0 to 100. The graph does not represent actual number of searches, but sets the highest number in the series as 100 and then normalizes all other data in the series to this number.

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The trend for keyword medical app search only emerged in 2007 but has had a steady consistent rise in search interest. For comparison purposes, weight loss app and diabetes app show similar increases but are less frequently searched than the general term medical app.

There is some month-to-month variability in search scores for medical app but I was unable to detect a specific seasonal pattern. However, a specific seasonal trend is seen with weight loss app searches. Consistent yearly peaks occur during the month of January similar to patterns in gym membership interest. If you are developing a weight loss app it would be wise to have it available by December to capture this seasonal effect.

The graph produced by Google Trends also has relevant news headlines linked to specific dates on the trend line. For example, the trend line annotated as letter D coincides with a Politico article covering the FDA becoming involved in medical app development. There does not appear to be much influence on medical app searches with news headlines. This is quite different than what is seen with specific devices. For example, iPhone searches surge after the release of a new iPhone version.

Google Trends also provides information about geographical patterns related to specific search terms. After controlling for overall search volume, countries around the globe can be graded for relative interest in the keyword medical app noted in the next screenshot. The United States leads all countries in relative medical app interest.

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Google Trends lists the U.S. at 100. Additional countries with high relative interest are also listed:

  • United States 100
  • Australia 67
  • India 56
  • Canada 50
  • United Kingdom 35

I was surprised at the relatively high level of interest in Australia and India. In a similar manner, Google Trends allows for analysis by state as seen in the next screenshot.

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The top states for medical app search interest were:

  • New Jersey 100
  • Tennessee 92
  • South Carolina 88
  • Massachusetts 87
  • North Carolina 86
  • Illinois 84
  • Florida 84
  • California 83
  • New York 80
  • Maryland 80

Broken down by city, the top ranked medical app search cities were:

  • New York City 100
  • San Francisco 96
  • Los Angeles 93
  • Chicago 92
  • Houston 80
  • Dallas 79

Conclusion

I found this Google Trends medical app keyword search informative. It highlighted that this field is only five years old with continuing strong growth. The United States leads in interest in medical apps but there is a significant global component. Google Trends does not reflect medical app search interest in other search engines. However, I think Google Trends is a useful tool and will be helpful to monitor future patterns reflecting interest in smartphone and tablet medical apps.

Dr. Yates writes a blog reviewing neuroscience research at Brain Posts. He can be followed on Twitter @WRY999