Google search has some not so well known features you will find interesting. Some people are concerned that their search queries are collected. On the other hand, you can use this data to gain insights about yourself. If you sign into any google app, your searches will be cataloged and saved in your profile.
Visit the Search History page, where you can view interesting search trends. Hit the options symbol in the top right, and then the gear logo (settings). Here you can opt to include Chrome and other app histories in your Web & App activity.
Some of the advantages include customized info such as travel and traffic updates for your commute. Outside of capturing your search history, the way you use maps and other apps can further personalize your experience. When you enable app and web activity, your account will collect info on any signed-in device such as your phone and tablet.
When I initially researched this article, the history page was quite different. It was changed sometime around the Google I/O conference back in May of 2015. They got rid of some features that I liked. Here are some of the graphs they provided.
My Hourly Search Activity
My Daily Search Activity
Monthly Search Activity
I live in Chicago, and we have pretty intense winters and pleasant summers so I tend to spend less time on Google. Although when you have a smart phone, looking up info is tempting even on the go.
Google Web & App After Google Change
Comparing what was and what is now, it seems like they reduced functionality. Now the only graph available is the “Searches by Day Graph”. There is a “Total Searches Count” and “Your Top Clicks” as well. You can change the date range applied to this data, but your options are last week, last month, last year, or all time.
Additionally, the level of search activity was revealed with different shades of blue but now that doesn’t exist. You were able to specify a time range, but now you can only pick a single day at a time. Use the calendar icon to jump to this feature.
The calendar has a left/right arrow to jump to different months, or you can select a specific day.
Removed Features in the Top 5 list: Top Clicks, and Top Queries.
List of Your Search Queries in Calendar Section
When you select a day in the calendar you will be reminded of your search queries on that day.
Export Your Google Data
You can click the options icon and select download searches to request your data. You will receive an alert via email when the archive is downloadable. The email itself will have links to download zipped versions of your data.
Your archive will include data from all Google apps. Even though you clicked download searches, Gooogle has opted to give you everything. Due to the sheer size the archive may be in a number of zipped files. I had 6 to download, totaling about 6 gigabytes of data.
Delete Your Search History
To remove history, click on delete options to pick from today, yesterday, past week, past four weeks or all time.
History Trends Unlimited App gives you a more convenient way to view all this data. This app uses your browser history information rather than your google info. So if you deleted your browser history this won’t be of much use. Take a look at some features that go beyond Google’s search history.
Domains, URLs, and Unique Visits
The most prominent part of the app is divided into three tabs. The “domains” section displays the top ten domains with its associated visit count. If you want to see where you spend your time online, this is a good place to go. You can expand this list by clicking “View Top 100”.
The “URLs” section lists which specific pages in a domain were visited the most, sorted by the visit count.
The “Unique visits” section sorts visited domains by the number of unique URLs visited. Let’s say you go to Yahoo only for Yahoo mail, in this case, you wouldn’t have many unique URLs for Yahoo. As a comparison, you may like to read Forbes, and each article page you visit is a visit to a unique URL. In the Unique Visits tab, you might not even see Yahoo since there would only be a handful of unique URLs. Forbes, on the other hand, may be at the top.
It’s a little confusing but understanding how this data is structured can help you discover insights about your internet usage. The columns in the Unique Visits tab show you unique URLs, visit count, and % Unique Visits. The number of unique URLs can be thought of as the articles you read on the Forbes website. Each article has its own URL/address. The visit count is the total number of times you visited the domain. This includes the times when you revisited a particular article. The % Unique Visits is a ratio of the previous two metrics and provides insight into your use of a particular domain. In other words, whether you revisit pages on a domain and to what extent.
The daily stats section shows you average and median visits per day. It will also have a clickable filter listing for today’s metrics. The top 10 busiest days literally shows you the days that had the highest internet activity, sorted by the visit count. Scrolling down the page reveals bar graphs to visualize your internet usage. The graphs show:
- Bar Graphs for Number of Visits Per Day
- Time of Day
- Day of Week
- Day of Month
The data you see on this page can be quickly changed by adding a filter. You can do so by selecting a Domain or URL (in blue = clickable). Additionally, you can select a specific day or a time range. There is a drop-down in the top right with options for past week, past month, past three months, past six months, past year, or all time. As soon as you update a filter all of the tables and charts will update. To go back just click clear next to the list of applied filters in the top right.
Pie Chart for Transition Types
Transition types are ways that a frame is accessed. Another way to think about a frame is a unique URL. Remember that a URL can call other URLs, think embedded youtube videos. You can visit www.example.com and if there is an embedded youtube video it will be like visiting both URLs at the same time.
Transition types refer to how browsers navigate to a particular URL.
- Link – When you click a link
- Auto Bookmark – When you use a websites User Interface such as a menu
- Typed – You manually type in an address into the URL bar
- Manual Subframe – When you hit the Back or Forward button in the browser
- Auto Subframe – When a frame is automatically loaded
- Reload – When you hit the reload browser button (Ctrl + R) or click into to the URL bar and hit enter to refresh the existing URL. If Chrome crashes and uses a session restore this will also use the reload transition type. Also, when you use Ctrl + Shift + T to open closed tabs uses this transition type.
- Form Submit – When you opt in or submit a form of some type. Sometimes this won’t be triggered if a script is used.
You can also export raw data in a tab-delimited file format. The output will have the following columns:
- Root Domain
- Visit Time (duration in ms)
- Visit Time (Exact time of visit)
- Day of Week
- Transition Type
- Page Title
Convenience vs. Security
When we use technology, we create lots of data. That data can often be accessed and used by others, so we have the tendency to delete our data. On the flip side, you may glean useful insights from viewing your search history from a different perch. If you know of interesting ways to look at your search history that you would like to share, please do so.