I came across yet another Google Beta product called Google Insights for Search. It lets you see the popularity of a particular search term over time. Currently the data goes back to 2004. It normalizes the data based on the most popular search term in the period, so you can’t glean any absolute data about searches, but it can show you how a particular search term or terms are trending.
I took a look at the keywords geotechnical and geotech and saw an interesting trend. Searches for the word geotech (red curve below) stayed pretty consistent at about 18-22% of the peak interest in the term geotechnical. But you can see in the figure below that searches for geotechnical have dropped by 60% since 2004 (blue curve). (Image by Google)
What could be causing this decline? Is it simply a result of more complicated or specific searches replacing the general “geotechnical” search? Or does it truly represent a declining interest in geotechnical engineering? I don’t know the answer, but I welcome any insights you might have on this in the form of comments.
Just for comparison, I checked out a few other searches as well. I tried to group searches that had similar volumes otherwise the lower traffic volume ones get lost at the bottom of the chart. Some of them show a similar downward trend. I have got to imagine that the overall number of searches performed by everyone, including those in the geotechnical and geological communities, has to have increased since 2004. So if these searches are declining, which ones are increasing? If you find that out, be sure to let me know.
The general trend of the blue line is consistent within each given year. Each year the search for the term “Geotechnical” peaks between January and February, then slides downward until August and then constantly builds back up until October and then it falls further downward toward the end of the year near December. The overall downward trend from year to year clearly is a function of the need for the use of the term “Geotechnical.” Many large projects poised for construction generate a need for the use of the term “Geotechnical” and that need is evident toward September and October of each year. Therefore, the need is closely tied to the increase or decrease rate of the need for “Geotechnical Services.” Time to face the facts. The economy has followed a consistent downward trend since 2004. The glory days are over until something changes the economic situation in our country. The Stimulus did not work. It may be time for the “Geotechnical Engineering Society” at large to initiate a change for the better of our collective futures.
a fellow transportation/geotechnical engineer.