Annette Fowler

Google Correlate

Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

As a software development project manager at Beacon, I’m also proud to say that I’m both an NPR and data geek, so I was elated to hear a story this week that united all of my passions:  Google Searches Are A Window Into Our Culture.  The tool “Google Correlate” is actually a fascinating window into how people are searching for not only one specific term, but an entire web of other related (or maybe not-so-related) terms.

The political example given in the story was somewhat predicable (Democrats– veggie-loving, fitness buffs; Republicans– meat-loving, weight-loss program participants), but my own searches turned up some interesting results on Google Correlate.  I am just starting work on a new website redesign for a well-known business school and was wondering what kind of associations I’d find if using terms related to that school (thinking I might be able to use this information with regard to site design and features).  Here’s the terms I tried:

  • business school– while many of the U.S.’s top business schools are listed, I was surprised to see the appearance of “art schools” and “art colleges” as correlating terms.  Wonder if my client has considered cross-promotion with this demographic?  Could a more “artsy” site design have benefits in this area?
  • management school– like the “art” association listed above, I was suprized to find “hospital association” as a correlation with “management school.”  Perhaps another marketing opportunity here?  Would a site feature that included possible hospital careers be helpful to these visitors?
  • mba school– oddly, this was a much more common search term in Utah than any other state.  Not sure how we can leverage this, but I’m sure we’ll bat it around for a while!


Also, don’t miss the comic book on the Google Correlate site – fun!  The most important point that the comic book emphasizes and bears repeating here– “Remember:  Correlation is not causation.”  Google doesn’t attempt to explain the correlation between terms, just show it to us in a manner for us to interpret and leverage.  Happy correlating!