Free Ancestry Search?
Google Insights (beta) is a tool used to visualize how popular a search term has been over time.
Comparisons can be made of search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.
While a search for free ancestry sources is a popular pastime, I chose Google Insights to exam three broad keyword phrases popular in our niche: genealogy, family tree and ancestry. The trend line graphs appear below.
“GENEALOGY” on Google Insights
The above graph shows a “Web search” on the term genealogy. (worldwide from 2004 to present)
Note the downward trend of people searching for the term genealogy. The letters A, B, C etc correspond to news items about the search term.
“FAMILY TREE” on Google Insights
Again, note the downward trend of people searching for the term family tree. It appears interest in the usage of family tree and genealogy as search terms is declining or is it a declining interest in the hobby itself? I don’t think so. I think this trend line is due to the fact other words are more commonly being used to search, perhaps phrases such as free genealogy or free ancestry.
“ANCESTRY” on Google Insights
Search for the term ancestry appears to have remained relatively constant until around the middle of 2010 at which point the graph climbs upward before settling down at a point higher than the early 2010 search volume.
Could this be due to the “WDYTYA” effect?
Who Do You Think You Are is a series of popular TV shows exploring celebrity genealogy which first appeared in the UK. NBC debuted the USA version in early 2010. Ancestry.com was a prominent sponsor and we heard the term ancestry multiple times on every show.
Are people using the search term ancestry more as a result of this show?
Is main stream media using the term ancestry more than other terms such as family tree or genealogy and thus creating more awareness of the term ancestry?
This could be the case. Point G on the graph above corresponds with a news story by Forbes entitled “Find Your Roots with Momentum Stock Ancestry Com”. The stock took a major leap then right around the time or shortly after when people were watching WDYTYA. According to the news story there was a “sharp increase in subscribers” and a strong quarter*. Did the Forbes story artificially drive up search for the term ancestry, at least temporarily? It appears so.
Will interest in the term ancestry return to its previous level or is interest in that search term here to stay?
Is the interest refreshed every time WDYTYA appears on TV? I didn’t research those statistics although they would be interesting to see.
A look at the three search terms together (graph D) reveals that while the term ancestry is trending slightly upwards it is clear that the terms genealogy and family tree have dropped. Why has usage of these two terms dropped in the time period since 2004?
Let’s take a look where the term ancestry is appearing world wide.
We can see the geographic popularity of the search term ancestry in the above graph (E).
It appears the search term ancestry is used the most in the United Kingdom, followed by the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.
At the time of writing, the term genealogy is number 1 in the USA and and number 6 in the UK. The phrase family tree is in position 1 in Australia and positions 4 and 5 respectively in the UK and the USA. (results not shown).
Now lets take a look at the monthly search volume for each of these terms on Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Local Monthly Search reveal that genealogy is still the top search term (and not ancestry). Is this because WDYTYA is NOT showing on tv at the moment? (October 2011). Are people busy with kids back in school and the seasoned genealogists busy with Family History Month?
If we look into the mind of a person newly interested in genealogy, what term might they use? Will they be more likely to use a search phrase that includes the term ancestry given all of the recent TV coverage? For example – SURNAME + ancestry instead of SURNAME + genealogy or family tree? Or are they looking for free ancestry resources?
Let’s go back back to Google Insights and review the listing of top search terms related to the term ancestry.
The most searched terms in the graph (I) above are specific keyword phrases which include free ancestry, family ancestry and ancestry search (the top 3).
Family tree and genealogy come in at number 9 and 10 respectively.
Ancestry appears to be a trending upward term when used in very specific keyword phrases, known as long tailed keywords, such as free ancestry.
These phrases will have less volume of search but will be more targeted with individuals going after a specific item or items; and it appears they are using the word “ancestry” in that phrase.
Look what happens when you compare the search terms free ancestry to free genealogy and free family tree. Free ancestry is the blue line.
It appears Ancestry.com has done their keyword homework. Their latest promotion is 15 days of free Ancestry access (October 1-15) to celebrate their 15th anniversary.
Why use “Ancestry” instead of alternative words?
Ancestry is easier to spell than genealogy. Family tree is easy to spell too but “free family tree”and other long tailed keywords like this don’t appear as often as phrases such as ancestry.
(Note, I haven’t done an exhaustive keyword analysis and there may be terms that appear more often but in general it appears free ancestry is currently one of the top keyword phrases that people are using to search).
Ancestry is hyped on tv in WDYTYA. Ancestry.com ads appear often.
If indeed, new comers to genealogy are using the term ancestry more often to search, should we be featuring more blog post titles and SEO techniques that use long tailed keyword phrases containing the word ancestry? (presumably to catch the interest of the newbies researching their family tree. These newcomers may be our next newly found cousin.)
These are all conjectures and it is fun to play around with the stats. (In fact you may want to check other search terms such as “family search” or “familysearch“.)
What do YOU think?
Is Ancestry the Hot Word of the day….month….year? Or at least since mid 2010?
Given the trend lines, Google Insights seems to think so.
Please leave your comments below.
*As an aside,the ACOM stock is currently down along with the rest of the market.
A quick search on Google Insights shows monthly search volumes for the terms genealogy vs gardening, another popular hobby.
Luxegen Genealogy and Family History Disclosure.