Much like Google Alerts, Google Trends lets you track and monitor brand names, products, services and people in the news. However, where the two differ is in end result; Google Trends leverages the Google News service to highlight those trends over time, with news activities acting as punctuators on a graphical chart.
You can compare multiple items, such as: “Apple, Microsoft, Linux”, Or: “HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Halifax” for example. You even have the option to export your new-found trends as CSV (Comma-Separated Variable) files, to use in Microsoft Excel, or even Google Docs.
The data used to build the graph is taken from Google’s own search engine. So the number of people searching for the keywords you choose to compare defines the properties of the graph itself. In that sense, you can see the relative popularity of certain people, companies and brands over time.
In the news
By having the news items linked into the chart, you get to see what the sources of certain defined spikes and troughs are.
Each news item is listed to the right of the graph as a link, so you can follow those news items up for yourself, to learn more. Additionally, there are charts for regions, cities and languages. Also, you can refine your search by region and by year, offering even more information about those keywords you’re hoping to learn more about.