Google search data have several major advantages over traditional survey data. First, the high costs of running frequent surveys mean that most survey questions are only asked occasionally making comparisons over time difficult. By contrast, Google Trends provides information on search trends measured weekly. Second, there are many countries where surveys are only conducted sporadically, whereas Google search data are available anywhere in the world where sufficient numbers of people use its search engine. The Google Trends website allows researchers to download data for almost all countries at no cost and to download time series of any search term's popularity over time (provided enough people have searched for it). For these reasons, Google Trends is an attractive data source for social scientists.
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