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Yahoo’s recession buzz

By Murray Bourne, 21 Jan 2008

Yahoo's Molly McCall runs Buzz Log (now defunct), which gives a summary of what's hot in Web searches.

Why do search trends matter? Because they give an insight into what people are interested in - or worried about.

Last week's Recession Fever: Catch It! indicated a spike in searches for the dreaded "r" word - recession. As Molly reported:

Demand for "definition of a recession economy" surged nearly 500%. Questions asking "what is a recession" picked up 260%, while "what is a recession economy" and "are we in a recession" nearly vaulted off the list.

Using search data to determine public interest in a topic may be more useful than opinion polls, since we can infer a lot from more what people do rather than what they say they are interested in.

For some (pretty vague) insights into Yahoo's methodology, under the heading what's the buzz?, we read:

A subject's buzz score is the percentage of Yahoo! users searching for that subject on a given day, multiplied by a constant to make the number easier to read. Weekly leaders are the subjects with the greatest average buzz score for a given week.

Meanwhile, Google Trends indicates graphically the large spike in searches for "recession":

recession - Google Trends

Web data is an interesting and important field. How many statistics courses include a subject on Web metrics?

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