I revisited an interesting (and free) tool on the internet called Google Trends. It allows the user to “explore Google trending search topics.” Since this is a construction-related blog, I decided to run explore the topics of “Concrete,” “Steel” and “Construction.” After all, post-tensioning is a combination of high-strength steel and concrete.
All graphs are based on a query run from January 2011 to January 2015 within the United States – Business & Industrial topics. However, queries can be run starting from 2004 and for other countries. (I choose to start from 2011 since Google modified their geographic assignment that year.)
The first graph displays that there is more relative Web Interest on average related to Construction (in Yellow) than Steel (in Red) or Concrete (in Blue). This seems obvious since the latter two topics are a subset of the Construction industry. It also shows that concrete and construction are more seasonal than steel due to a slowdown in winter. That said, Steel is a much broader search term which could explain it’s non-seasonality, but we’ll get to that later.
All three topics have relatively flat interest during the four year period. By contrast, if you ran a query for “Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge” or “Kate Middleton,” you’d find almost no relative interest prior to 2010. However, in 2011, her graph had an enormous spike of interest during her engagement and eventual marriage to Prince William (rating of 79). Her graph peaked at 100 in September 2012 when the Royal Family announced her pregnancy of the future heir to the throne and spiked again when Prince George was born in July 2013 (rating of 55).
But let’s get back to construction… The next two graphs display a drilled-down of the relative interest by City for Steel and Concrete. Not surprisingly, Pittsburgh, the home of the Steelers, had the most relative interest of “Steel.” The other cities either had a strong market for steel production or steel construction. Based on my knowledge, all the ‘concrete’ cities had fairly strong construction industries from 2011 until now. Accordingly, the Regional Interest tool could provide some insight on local economic activities within several months (construction project typically don’t happen overnight).
The next two graphs display a drilled-down of the relative interest by Related Search Term. As alluded to earlier, steel-related search terms range from stainless steel to structural steel to cookware to a variety of other terms. Naturally, this clouds the data for those who only want construction-related web interest. On the contrary, concrete-related search terms appear to be more correlated to the construction industry.
Click here to learn more about Google Trends. Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart. If at most 10% of searches for the given region and time frame were for “pizza,” we’d consider this 100. This doesn’t convey absolute search volume.
– Neel Khosa, Vice President
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