Posted by: Marshall Sponder | April 26, 2008

People Search Less for what they’re not interested in

I have always believed that search demand for a keyword phrase and how much someone searches for it is closely tied with their need for it. It’s hard to search for food when you’ve just eaten a large meal but much easier to search when your hungry.

While I knew this, I found it hard to actually prove it; however, the article on HitWise’s blog today on Internet Searches Match Decline in Housing Prices by Heather Hopkins comes the closest I’ve seen in a explanation in how less interest in buying houses translates into less searches for keywords associated with houses:

The following chart compares the share of US Internet searches for “homes for sale” (the highest volume non-branded search term relating to real estate) compared with the median monthly house price by month for the past twelve months based on data published by the National Association of Realtors. (Note the search data is based on a rolling four week average of the share of US Internet searches for the final week of each month).
House Prices.png

I ran a correlation analysis and found a very strong (.92) correlation between the median house price and the monthly share of US Internet searches. This is about as close to a perfect correlation as I’ve seen and it got me pretty excited. (Yes, I am a geek.) The correlation is unlikely to be as tight over a longer stretch and I would like to extend the analysis back 24 or 36 months. (If you know of a source for monthly median house price going back further than 12 months, let me know.)

I wrote one of my former clients with this information and they replied back .. what do we do now? (they sold house plans)

Well, that’s hard to figure out – and in a way, it would be much better to approach problems like this with a group of people brainstorming, like the WAA’s Social Media and Community.

In the case of this former client, they had really done well in natural search and are in the top for all the keywords they care about – the problem is (and I predicted this years ago) Search is not the answer – I doubt it’s anyone answer.

I brainstormed a little on my own and came up with a couple of ideas but I bet the applications would be over their head.


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