2010: Year in Review (by Search Terms)

Welcome to the Business Analytics for a Complex World!  Or in some cases, welcome back!  Many of you are here because you know me, or I have pointed you to a specific post.  Some are clicking through from LinkedIn, facebook, or other hard links.  But many of you are finding this blog through search engines.  Thanks to some nice tools provided by wordpress and statcounter, I know which terms were used to find this blog in 2010.

This is a word cloud of the most popular words used to find this blog.  This first picture is “mostly unfiltered”.  The size of each word reflects the frequency (the number of times) used in a search engine request that someone used to click through to this blog.  (The colors mean nothing in this graphic.)  The only words not included are common English words, like “a”, “the”, “is”, etc.

What stands out?  The word, “business” is quite popular — but that’s to be expected.  There are smatterings of other words that seem to show up: “bubble”, “analytics”, “chart”, etc.

I find such word clouds to be interesting; however, in most cases, it helps to show more than one word cloud, even if it’s based on the same content.  That’s because, I believe, it’s important to help your audience not feel like an idiot.  Let me explain.  Any new graphic, even if it’s “obvious” takes some time to get used to.  With one example, sometimes it’s hard to get used to the new graph.

So, I generated a second graphic:

The second picture is like the first, but I weighted the terms that were used multiple times.  For example, the exact search term “how much oil is leaking” was by far the most popular (several hundred!), so I increased the size of some of those terms.  This does several things to the picture: it starts to show that there are a few “tiers” or “levels” of popular terms.  This helps us to focus on the most popular terms, such as “leaking”, “bubble”, “analytics”, and so on.

Remember that your audience goes through a few phases when they see something like this.  At first, they have to figure out what it is.  Then they have to figure out what it might mean.  You may be very familiar with the underlying topic and “what the graph” means, but please be courteous to your audience… provide a simple guide or step-through.

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  • David Yorka  On January 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    First good explanation of a fully functional Word Cloud!

    Thank You

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