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Early adopters vs the Mainstream: Google Insights points out websites only used by Silicon Valley nerds

Intro to Google Insights
I have recently been playing around with the insanely useful Google Insights for Search product. You should definitely try it out if you haven't. It's basically Google Trends on steroids, and shows you a ton of data on any search you try. An SEO wizard's dream, basically. It's described as:

With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames.

Basically you put in keywords and it give you pretty charts.

Navigation searches and geo-location
One useful query to try is to search for your favorite website – like "gaiaonline.com" and specifically target it towards the US. It shows you a neat state-by-state breakdown of who is doing those searches.

Although unscientific, it tells you a bit about the location of the people who use the website, since logically the folks in states where the product is popular would tend to search for it quite a bit. Interestingly enough, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington are some of the top searchers for Gaia Online. Fascinating.

Now, another use for this is to figure out what websites are being used mostly by early adopters versus products that have broken into the mainstream. One could just go and search a whole bunch of domains and see what kinds of graphs are produced.

This is exactly what I've done below…

The graphs for Digg, Facebook, MySpace, Netvibes, Skype, Techcrunch, Twitter, and YouTube

Here they are…

Digg is pretty evenly used throughout the US, although there's a big hole in Montana, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming. Weird.

MySpace is mainstream and used throughout the US, although popular in California, Florida, and Vegas. Those are all places known for awesome club scenes, is there any connection? ;-) (er, SoCal)

Netvibes is California only – perhaps this is a good candidate for an early-adopter-only crowd?

Skype is interestingly close to Digg's geographic profile, actually. I'm sure the worldwide chart looks very different, but at least within the US there doesn't seem to be a crazy amount of penetration. Would be interesting to see this graphed against % of population that are immigrant populations, who are talking to their relatives overseas.


Twitter has a surprising profile – it's very strong within the states where it has any presence, but is basically dead outside of it. If you would conclude anything, you'd say that Twitter is in a transitionary period where it's certainly grown to be a larger-than Silicon Valley phenomenon, but is still mostly dominated by early adopters in specific states.

Facebook is mainstream, and unsurprisingly focused towards the east coast rather than the west.

YouTube is also quite mainstream, and looks like the MySpace profile.

Next steps
Basically this tool is a very interesting part of any internet analyst's arsenal, alongside Quantcast, Alexa, and the like. It gives a unique view of what's going on. You could do a lot with this also – I'm too lazy to do the full analysis, but you could run the entire Crunchbase database through this and see what sites have broken into the mainstream and which ones have not. You could also run the entire Quantcast top 100k site list though this.

Another interesting thing would be to translate the color shades into index numbers, and then calculate the sites with the highest variance of scores (Twitter would probably rank highly in this), which would indicate polarizing products. Similarly, products that were successful outside the Silicon Valley area might be interesting investment candidates for venture capitalists to look at.

If anyone does further work on this, please shoot me an e-mail and I will link you!

BTW, if you enjoyed this article, check out the list of 50+ essays on this site, related to viral marketing, metrics, go-to-market strategies, online ads, etc.

UPDATE #3: I did some additional work timeslicing the data for YouTube and Webkinz to show how they grew over time. You can read the new post here.

UPDATE #2: Some more interesting analysis, which shows the spread of Twitter over time, month-by-month, using the same tools. General trend seems like it hit the coasts and then filled in the central areas.

UPDATE: Techcrunch does some great analysis here – they basically point out that instead of querying for "twitter.com" and "techcrunch.com" I should have searched for "twitter" and "techcrunch." Good points and worth reading more.

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