Google Searches vs. Sentiment Analysis: Which Is The Real Zeitgeist?

Last week, Google released it’s Zeitgeist 2011 report, offering insights into how the world searched. The top searches overall are predictable – Rebecca Black, iPhone 5, Casey Anthony – but drilling down into specific categories reveals some pertinent trends in what interested Web searchers this year.

Sentiment analysis firm General Sentiment looked at some of these trends through a different lens. Using over 60 million sources across the Web, General Sentiment analyzed how Web users felt about these top terms. It produced side-by-side comparisons of how popular a term was on Google versus how often it was mentioned on the Web overall. It also noted how positive or negative overall sentiment was. Google searches are clearly not the only judge of a topic’s importance on the Web.

Republican Presidential Candidates

Between trending on Google, overall mentions and positive sentiment, Mitt Romney seems like the most popular Republican presidential candidate on the Web. Rick Perry was only the fourth most trending GOP candidate on Google this year, but he was number 1 in overall mentions. Jon Huntsman stands out from the list, though. He was #6 in Google search and number #10 in overall mentions, but sentiment was the most positive.

Television Shows

American Idol was the Mitt Romney of TV shows this year, reaching #2 in search and winning mentions and sentiment. Big Brother was the most searched-for TV show, but it was far down the list of overall mentions. People were searching for Big Brother, but they weren’t talking about it.

Car Brands

Mitt Romney, American Idol and Ford automobiles. These wholesome American brands held steady in the #1 or #2 spot in both searches and mentions. But Ford was actually beaten out by a few other brands in overall sentiment. Jeep was #4 in search, but it was #9 in mentions, and it had the lowest sentiment of the top 10 car brands.

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