Monday, December 20, 2010

Is Genealogy Interest Waning? Facts from Google Insights for Search

I was watching BBC TV the other day (Graham Norton, to be exact), and he showed a Google search comparing how often his name was searched compared to Justin Bieber.  It was not surprising that Justin Bieber won that search, but it got me thinking about this new Google product.  Would it show the increased interest in genealogy?

The search is called Google Insights for Search and it is a beta site.  So, how did the site work with the terms "genealogy" and "family history?"  I entered both search terms, and Google allowed me to search from 2004 to the present.  I chose Worldwide, and decided to choose all categories:
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I was surprised to see the results.  Could interest in genealogy be waning?  According to the chart below, since 2004 the search terms of "genealogy" and "family history" do indeed show a steady decline:

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Could this be true?  Could genealogy and family history interest be waning?  Fortunately there were additional charts that provided more clues about genealogy in the internet world.  Here are the top search terms according to Google:

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I found it funny that some people still don't know how to spell genealogy (No. 3)!  And, according to the top searches above, my search term "genealogy" was not even in the Top 10.  Two of the top searches included the word "free," which I agree is lovely to find when you are researching your genealogy.  It was also interesting to note that some people associate genealogy with the LDS faith (No. 9).

Of greater interest was the Rising Searches chart:

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Coming in 3rd and 7th place was again the "free" word.  More importantly is the fact that the rising searches shows healthy searches for all-things genealogy, some exceeding 200%.

My last graph to show you is Regional interest.  I was surprised to see that New Zealand took top honors:
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Is interest in genealogy is waning?  I think not.  My simple conclusion is that since 2004 more people are aware of family history and genealogy, but are just more sophisticated Googlers.  And, there are more of us to boot.  What do you think?



  1. Very interesting and I've look at the same data in the past. Here are my thoughts:

    - I think it may appear that the popularity of the term declines unless you factor in the explosive growth of other terms related to social media. Also the number of websites and blogs has grown - many of which have no relation to genealogy. So what I am saying is that the "pool" has expanded so that it looks as if the term genealogy is diluted. But like you, I don't believe that to be the case.

    2. It would help to take some other terms and do similar research and see if there isn't a similar decline.

    3. And many folks say there is a spike in interest in genealogy around the holidays and use Google web traffic to prove it but there is a big skewing factor: many people are doing a search for "genealogy of Jesus" since it is part of the Nativity story in the Book of Luke from the Bible. True results would need to separate out those results to give an accurate picture.

  2. Very interesting information. Here's my theory. Since 2004, people who are interested in genealogy have become increasingly more web savvy. The people who DO genealogy online no longer have to search for Genealogy - they already know where to go, whether it be a national or regional archive, a subscription service such as or to a site such as Cyndi's List.

    People are using more sophisticated search strings to narrow their searches, such as using location and surname searching.

    Clearly, interest in genealogy is not waning because of the number of people who are now working on their family history.

  3. Thanks for posting about this, it is very interesting!



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