Some say we are the sum of our experiences; I think we’re the sum of our Google search history. Well, maybe not literally, but our search history tells a lot about ourself. Our questions, our doubts, our problems, we entrust it all to Google. That’s why I like Google Trends, Google’s tool to explore worldwide search trends and statistics.
Right now, I’m writing a lot about long-distance relationships (LDR). So, curious as I am, it was natural for me to use the tool to investigate what our searches have to say about LDRs.
How we used Google Trends to understand people’s concern about LDR
The popularity of search queries can tell a lot about different subjects in our society. LDR is an excellent example of a topic where our search history can reserve us some surprising insights.
Before we delve into my finding, first, we need to understand the popularity metric in Google Trends. Google Trends gives us an index on a 1-to-100 scale. This index is a relative metric. It indicates how popular something is compared to other similar things.
Now, I know that this last sentence might sound too abstract for many. At least, it was for me when someone first tried to explain it to me. So, let’s use an example. In the geographic report, we have a list of states. Not surprisingly, in our case, it’s Hawaï that has the highest index for “long-distance relationship” with a score of 100/100. That doesn’t mean that there are more searches related to LDR in Hawaï than in other states. That means the ratio “LDR searches/All other unrelated searches” is the highest in this state.
The state where LDR searches are the least popular is New Hampshire, with a popularity index of 59. That means that, based on our search history, LDRs are almost half as popular in New Hampshire than it is in Hawaï, but the fact that it’s >50 means that it’s still more popular than most of other searches.
Long-Distance Relationship Infographic
So, even if our little analysis is not scientific, it shows us some interesting insights. I’ll go in detail about each section, but first, here are the results in an infographic format. If you follow this link, you can view the interactive format where you can sort columns: https://datastudio.google.com/s/mb_5TAfzVvA.
If you want to share this infographic on your website, you can share it via Data Studio (https://datastudio.google.com/s/mb_5TAfzVvA) or ISSUU ( https://issuu.com/katrina-russell/docs/long-distance_relationship) You can use the share button in both cases. Please give an attribution link to https://katrinarussell.com.
What’s wrong about Kansas?
On the top-3 states where LDRs seems the most popular, you find the two non-continental states: Alaska and Hawaï. That’s not a surprise because… well, those states are afar. As the two remote states, people who either live in those states or migrated here for work has more chances to be involved in a long-distance relationship.
What’s stand out, however, is number two: Kansas. This big blue rectangle in the middle of the country. With a popularity index of 99, it’s well above the number 3: Alaska, standing at 85.
I’ve tried, with no success to find an explanation for it. If someone has an explanation, I would like to hear it! Don’t be shy and share it in the comments section.
All I know is that’s there was a big spike in LDRs related queries in 2015 in Kansas. I tried to figured out what what the cause, but nothing really stand out.
When we look at related searches, Google offers two ways to look at it. We can compare two different things. First, there’s the actual search query. That’s what you enter in the search bar. We will look at those later. Second, there are the related topics.
Google nests all the different search queries into various topics. Google Trends can show us the popularity of related topics. The higher is the index, the more people who searched about LDRs searched about those topics too.
Nothing is shocking here. With an index of 100, intimate relationship crushes all the other topics. What’s more interesting is the recent trending topics. That’s are the subjects that have shown a recent increase in their popularity.
What stands out is the rise of technology to help separate lovers to cope with the distance. In the last five years. topics such as bracelets, gadgets, and facetime show a recent surge in search volume. In the last five years, those searches are up to 7.5x more popular than five years before. Even more impressive is the rise of sex toys. With the invention of long-distance sex toys, sex toys and vibrators show a 4x and 6x increase. Vibration (which can include queries related to both sex toys and gadgets (like bracelets) is up to 16.5x.
However, the number one place is for the topic paragraph. You might wonder what the deal with a search topic like paragraph? I find it very interesting, and it shows us another aspect of how technology now shapes our relationships.
Searches that fall in this topic are queries that aim to help people write a paragraph to their love one. There was a time where love letters were well thought. Five years ago, we would still use our emotion as an inspiration for writing a love email. Now, we turn to Google to find a template, and we send it via our favorite messaging app.
Now, we can look at actual querries. Here again, the related queries aren’t particularly interesting. What’s intriguing is the rising ones.
We can now see in detail what are the long-distance gadgets that have gained in popularity in the last five years. “Friendship lamps” (39.5x), “touch bracelets” (13.5x) and “distance bracelets” (8x) seem to be the new LDR devices that made a buzz.
Also rising is the “DDLG punishment for long distance relationship” querry. For those who do not know, DDLG is a form of a type of BDSM, or domination style, relationship. That, with the sex toy topics mark a trends toward sexual related querries for LDRs.
If we take a look at the breakout section (new rising topics that weren’t used five years ago), we can see that sexuality is at the heart of the rising topic. With querries involving “dirty talk” and “sexting,” we can see where the relation between technology and LDRs is heading.
Thanks to Mark Lafontaine for his help with Google Data Studio.