I’m taking a communications class and we have an assignment to use Google to identify the hottest trends in the online world. I’m a bit clueless about how to do that, however, so am hoping you can offer some advice?
Sounds like a really interesting class, though I hope that once you’ve learned how to identify trends, you also learn how to ascertain if they’re truthful, propaganda, or outright lies. There’s too much of that online and too many people who get excited about sharing the latest hot rumor that they don’t bother checking if it’s legit or not. Don’t be that person! 🧐
It turns out, however, that Google’s search system has a lot of hidden features that reveal the latest trends and topics, mostly oriented toward what searches are being submitted. Since Google gets so darn many searches every day, it can identify trends within an hour or two, with no AI or fancy additional software needed. Google also has Google Trends, which is a completely different way to explore what people are discussing and how interest in that topic has changed over the last day, week, or even year. Let’s look at both!
EXPLORING GOOGLE SEARCH SUGGESTIONS
I’m heading to a movie today – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – and wanted to check if there were any good lunch spots near the movie theater. Easily done:
Here you can see that it’s suggesting search completion based on statistical data, even though it’s wrong: Flatiron Crossing Mall is in Broomfield, not Longmont. When I get to the search results page, if I click in the search box and delete everything, it shows my search history and Trending searches you might like:
I’m always interested in space, so I’m going to click on the “virgin galactic spaceflight” trending search term. It’ll show me news and other information about this topic, but if I click in the search box of that page and again delete the actual search phrase, the pop-up shows new and different trending searches:
The left side hasn’t changed since I haven’t entered new searches, but notice how the Trending searches have changed quite a bit based on my search for virgin galactic spaceflight.
What caught my eye in this set of Trending searches you might like is the “taco bell volcano menu”. Curious!
SEARCH FOR TACO BELL VOLCANO MENU 2023
I’ll click on “taco bell volcano menu” and this time the post-deleted-search-term box shows me “Related to recent searches“:
There are a lot of searches related to this term that lets us conclude that it’s an extension to the Taco Bell menu that has returned after a period of being off the menu. I’ll click on “taco bell volcano menu 2023” to learn more, but, again, I’m not going to look at the search results, per se, just the Google-related info.
Partway down the page is an excellent source for specific info about what’s trending, the “People also ask” section. This has some quite reasonable questions in this regard:
But there’s more on this search results page you can utilize. Scroll down further and you’ll bump into “Related searches” that can also show yet more information about the topic based on actual user searches:
In terms of learning more about this popular food trend, the query “why did taco bell discontinue the volcano menu” might be one of the best ways to keep doing research.
GOOGLE TRENDS OFFERS GREAT INFO TOO
Google is constantly analyzing all of its search data – it’s a very quant-oriented company! – and much of that information can be found in the Google Trends area. Let’s pop there to see if these Taco Bell Volcano Menu searches are a new trend or if it’s been around for a while…
The “Trending now” link along the top offers a lot of additional information about what’s becoming a trendy and popular search on the site, but let’s just explore the menu:
Here I’ve tweaked the results to show searches for the last 30 days. Looks like around June 8th people started searching for the term and in the last few days it’s exploded!
Scroll down a bit and you can even find out which states are the home of these enthusiastic Taco Bell fans:
Quite honestly, I did not expect that it would be Maine that would be hosting the most searches for “taco bell volcano” but apparently the company has a very loyal fanbase in the northeastern tip of the USA!
SO WHAT IS THE TACO BELL VOLCANO MENU?
I thought we could just ask Bard, Google’s chat AI system, for a quick explanation of this mysterious menu too:
Q: briefly explain the taco bell volcano menu
Sure. The Taco Bell Volcano Menu is a limited-time menu that features spicy items made with Lava Sauce, a sauce made with a spicy cheese blend and heat from red jalapeño peppers. The menu first debuted in 1995 and was discontinued in 2012. It returned in 2016 and is now back again in 2023.
The current Volcano Menu includes the following items:
- Volcano Taco: A hard-shell taco filled with seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, a three-cheese blend, and Lava Sauce.
- Double Beef Volcano Burrito: A flour tortilla filled with seasoned rice, seasoned beef, three-cheese blend, reduced fat sour cream, crunchy Fiesta tortilla strips, and Lava Sauce.
- Lava Sauce: A spicy nacho cheese sauce that can be added to any Taco Bell item.
If you are a fan of spicy food, then you will definitely want to try the Taco Bell Volcano Menu. It is a limited-time offer, so be sure to get your fix while you can.
Now ya know. Armed with all this information you should be able to get through your assignment so quickly that you’ll have plenty of time to swing by Taco Bell for one of the new menu items!