A few weeks ago, I finished reading “Click” by Bill Tancer. Tancer is one of the head researchers at a company called Hitwise. Hitwise is a company that uses search data from the major engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) to understand how the web works (and help companies make decisions in the process).

What drew me to Click initially was the endorsement from Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner:

“Bill Tancer is the king of measuring online research. And online research is the main street of the new world. Which makes Bill Tancer king of the world, or something like that”

Quite the quote.

What Click teaches the reader, though, is how important search data is. The book begins with a good overview of some of the most popular searches in the US – what was the most-searched term in 2004? Paris Hilton.

Tancer then goes into a number of different examples of how to use search data – from optimizing a marketing campaign against the time when people are most interested in your product to analyzing how a new idea spreads across the web.

It’s a quick read but one full of case studies and interesting facts (such as the most frequent “How To” search or “Fear of” searches). The data is telling and an analysis like this is only the tip of the iceberg.

If Google is truly the “database of intentions” than “Click” is the beginner’s interpretation manual.

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