Google Trends, the informative resource that shows you what’s currently popular around the web right now in and in the recent past, now offers email subscriptions, Google announced this morning. The new feature will allow you to subscribe to any search topic, plus Hot Searches for any country, or any U.S. monthly Top Chart, says Google via a blog post detailing the feature.
However, though Google Trends itself is a real-time data provider, letting you see what people are searching for at this very moment, the subscriptions feature is not always a real-time alerting service. Instead, when you go to create your first subscription for a topic you specify, after selecting the search term and country, you can then set your emails to arrive either “about once a week” or “about once a month.” (The company notes that the “how often” designation is only a rough estimate, and will vary between topics and over time.)
In other words, that feature is designed more for keeping up on news you’re interested in, by allowing you to more passively receive updates on a fairly regular schedule, but not necessarily getting the information the minute it arrives.
However, the “Subscribe” button found elsewhere on the Google Trends website offers more options. For instance, you can subscribe to the “Hot Searches” by either the “Hottest,” “Hotter,” or “Hot” designations, depending on how much you want to keep up with, and you can configure those emails to arrive as-it-happens, once a day or once per week.
Similarly, you can be alerted to whenever a new Top Chart appears for any country or when a chart is updated, also presumably as it happens, though the website doesn’t exactly spell this out.
Google suggests that the emails would make sense for businesses researching their brand, students researching a topic, fans of a sports team, or anyone else looking to track a given topic over time.
You can later manage all your subscriptions from the site’s new “Subscriptions” section, where you can change their frequency, as well as add or remove subscriptions.
The addition could signal changes ahead for a competing service Google offers.
Google has long provided a notification service called Google Alerts for tracking specific Google results, like a breaking news story or competitive intelligence, for example, though it’s been rumored for some time that Google would be shutting this service down. The company quietly killed off Alerts by RSS last year, and the service has since suffered problems where Alerts simply stop functioning correctly.
Now that Google Trends offers the ability to subscribe by search topic, questions about Google Alert’s future are likely to rise again.