A few years back I attended a Content Management conference in San Francisco hosted by the Gilbane Group. I was quite surprised to find several of the break out sessions devoted to "search." At the time I had not yet put as much value on search as the rest of the content market had. Of course, I came back a believer.
Google Insights is designed to analyze the words that people are using to search via Google. As with all Google products, it has a very basic interface. You select the search term and then filter by geographical location, time period, and category...then press 'search'.
The location is a selection by country or worldwide; the time periods are pretty flexible allowing 2004 - Present, a specific year, last 30, 90 days, last year, and even allowing a specific date range; the category provides some typical industry breakdowns.
Within a couple of minutes, you can enter a search term, choose your filters and then search to see how active that term has been on Google. To compare 2 terms, separate by a comma and re-run your search. Add a comma and another term - get a comparison of the three terms. Change a filter (different date) - run again. Drill down into a specific county - run again. The results are a very basic line graph, but warning: this can be habit forming. It quickly becomes very interesting to see what is popular, what is fading in popularity, how search terms compare, and how they compare across countries.
According to Tech Observer, Google Insights has been up and running since April, but based upon a simple search, there are a lot of recent (August) mentions of this new service, and a Google Insights on Google Insights shows no interest (searches) until the end of July.
The realization that I came to was how valuable this could be to Content Managers in gaining insight (yeah, sorry) into what search terms are being used within a system, and helping that manager ensure that users can find what they are looking for or that content is created for failed searches. I don't think this point is missed by anyone who discovers this tool. Tech Observer predicts this tool will be a big hit with bloggers....
Disclaimer 1: "Google Insights for Search aims to provide insights into broad search patterns. Several approximations are used to compute these results." (from the Google Insights home page)
Disclaimer 2: Tom Godfrey is not an employee of Google.