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Tracking Trends via the Blogosphere

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Want the latest buzz about what's going on in politics, sports, entertainment or other current events? BlogPulse maps trends by mining the hot topics appearing in millions of blogs.

Like Feedster, Technorati and other blog search engines that we've written about, BlogPulse from Intelliseek is a specialized search engine that helps you locate information in more than 11 million blogs. Results from both simple search and the advanced search form are useful, and as with other such services, you can subscribe to a feed for a search to track its results on an ongoing basis.

But BlogPulse extends this tracking capability by offering the ability to map the popularity of words mentioned in blogs over a period of time. The BlogPulse Trend Tool lets you enter up to three words or phrases and displays a graph of how frequently those terms appeared in blogs over the past two, four or six months.

Using the tool with single search terms reveals spikes of interest and whether the popularity of a particular topic is waxing or waning. For example, it appears that interest in the Michael Jackson trial spiked in early March and has trailed off recently, despite recent events.

Similarly, there was a fairly constant level of interest in the European Union until last week when mentions nearly tripled in the run-up and aftermath of elections in France and Denmark that put the future of the EU's constitution in doubt.

While these trends are interesting, it's even more revealing to compare two or three subjects for comparative interest. Beyond simple popularity tracking, you can use the tool to do a simple form of competitive intelligence, gauging the interest in particular companies or products. For example:

  • Apple vs. Dell—Apple gets nearly five times the number of mentions to Dell, despite Dell being the #1 computer manufacturer (iPod, anyone?)
  • Walmart vs. Target vs. Costco—Despite Wal-Mart's current woes, Target gets twice as many mentions, and Costco barely registers by comparison
  • Weight Watchers vs. Atkins—The low-carb diet is still more popular than the traditional plan, though both have spikes of interest

It's also interesting to use the BlogPulse comparison tool to get a glimpse of the popularity of people. For example, Natalie Portman eclipsed Paris Hilton during the week that Star Wars opened. Kofi Annan is more popular than Warren Buffett in the blogosphere. And David Beckham and Lance Armstrong are in a dead heat, at least in online competition.

You can also get a sense of who's hot in the blogging world. Enter the names of your favorite bloggers to see how frequently they're being mentioned.

BlogPulse also tracks a number of newsworthy topics, offering preconfigured links to trend analyses on their featured trends page. These are also archived, allowing you to track trends back to May of 2004.

Another cool feature offered by BlogPulse is its Conversation Tracker. When a blogger publishes a post and other bloggers link to it, the post becomes part of a conversation. BlogPulse Conversation Tracker creates a threaded view of the conversation graph from a link to a post or to a new article (or any URL).

Tracking trends in the blogosphere isn't by any means an exact science, as Danny Sullivan points out in his article on another blog trend tracking service, LinkCounts & LinkStats From PubSub's Only Rough Picture, So Far. But it's a great way to get a sense of current buzz happening in the world, often times well ahead of when traditional media catch on.

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