I had the honor of breaking the story on the Google Trends for Websites announcement. In fact, I was on a call with Sundar Pichai (VP, Product Management), R.J. Pittman (Director, Product Management), and Matt Cutts (you know him) of Google the day before. They showed me a tool that shows estimated traffic data for many sites, plus gives you search data and much more. I was very excited about this launch, as you can tell from my write up at Search Engine Land.
Let me first show you two examples of how it can be used. Since we cover search forums here, I want to show you how search forums rank against each other. I cover WebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint Forums the most here, simply because they have the most threads - and Google Trends validated that to me, at least on a traffic volume level.
Here I plotted webmasterworld.com, digitalpoint.com, sphinn.com, cre8asiteforums.com, searchenginewatch.com against each other. Here is the chart:
WebmasterWorld just edges out DigitalPoint Forums, both seem to be getting around 100,000 visitors per day. Those numbers are nothing to laugh out, that is impressive traffic when compared to many other sites. Heck, I even plotted Search Engine Watch on the chart, which has a forum, but most of the activity on the site is likely not forum related. Google doesn't allow subdomains yet, so it would be hard to compare just webmasterworld.com to forums.digitalpoint.com or forums.searchenginewatch.com, and so on. DigitalPoint has a ton of free tools, so it is not exclusively a forum either - WebmasterWorld is primarily a forum, as far as I can tell. So WebmasterWorld may be the largest SEM related forum out there.
Another great use for this tool is to find related sites. Finding related sites is great for hunting down resources related to the site you plugged in. It is also a great SEM tool, for finding link partners or even advertisers. For example, plugging in seroundtable.com will bring up the following "also visited sites..." searchmarketingexpo.com, sphinn.com, searchengineland.com, searchenginejournal.com, searchengineguide.com, bruceclay.com, mattcutts.com, ppchero.com, jimboykin.com, and blogstorm.co.uk. These are all related sites to this one. So if you like reading this site, you may want to also add these sites to your RSS reader.
There are many great ways to use this tool. But like whenever Google launches something very useful, people complain. There are many, many people out there blogging about the negative points to such a tool. Scan some of the "discussion" links at Techmeme and you might find headlines like Google Trends Adds Another Way to Inaccurately Track Website Traffic, Google Trends for Websites? Not Cool, Google., and Google’s Two Tiered Internet World Sinks to a New Low. Lots of negative blog posts on this release, lots of it. Some say it sucks because it doesn't work on all web sites. Geez, it will come, give it time. Some say it sucks cause it doesn't work with google.com.
Would you prefer if Google dropped it? Would you prefer if Google never built it? You might come and comment here that you would, but would it seriously make for a better world? Would more people benefit from this tool, in any small way, then be hurt by such a tool? I think most people would be sad if Google said, because Michael Gray doesn't like it, we are shutting it down.
I am not going to go through all the comments and discussions at the forums, because there is a ton of it. But I will list out the major threads discussing the new tool.