Google has been regularly tracking popular searches in the form of the Google Zeitgeist for some time, and added the Google Trends service last year, providing an unfiltered, uncategorized view of popular queries in relation to each other.
Now, Google has introduced a new tool called Hot Trends. "It's a new feature of Google Trends for sharing the the hottest current searches with you in very close to real time," according to the Google Blog post. It's also added a Hot Trends group to help decipher the reasons why some seemingly odd phrases are appearing in Hot Trends.
Hot Trends are not a straight list of most popular searches, but are ranked with a new algorithm:
Hot Trends aren't the search terms people look for most often -- those are pretty predictable, like [weather] or [games] or perhaps [myspace]. Yes, [sex] too. Instead, the Hot Trends algorithm analyzes millions of searches to find those that are deviating the most relative to their past traffic. And the outcome is the Hot Trends list.
Google has also updated the Google Trends page to make it easier to break trends down by geographic region, for example. It's also ending its weekly Zeitgeist, but will continue monthly and annual publications.