What type of questions are we asking from google and why is it a bad sign?

I was looking on google search trends to check what kind of questions do people ask from google. I divided the type of questions into three categories i.e.

  1. Knowledge Based Questions : These kind of searches are information based i.e. people looking to gain their knowledge on events and other stuff happening around them.
  2. Application based questions : These types of searches were about finding the ways to do stuff. In these type of searches, people were looking for ways to do something.
  3. Deep dive questions : These searches were related to finding the root cause of various events/ questions etc. People who are interested in finding the causes of various events and beliefs ask “why” and make an attempt to do some analysis on why things happen the way they do.

Now, the next question was on how to find the search volume data on above three types of questions. For this I selected three keywords for above three types. Knowledge based questions would start with “What”, people who want to do something start their search with “How to” and people who looking for causes would start their search with “Why”.

For example : “What is the capital of India” is a knowledge based question and it only provides us information. “How to create a paper boat” or “How to start a business” are application based questions and here the person wants to do something and is looking to find the answers online. These type of questions are more useful for the seeker and they help him acheive something. “Why the sky is blue” is a deep dive question and the person is looking for causes. This type of information would definitely increase the person’s understanding but we are not sure how it will be useful.

I compared the google search results for three keywords which are “What”, “How” and “Why” and here is the search result from India

Source : Google

These trends are similar irrespective of the geography.

You can see, people are more interested in asking application based questions as compared to knowledge based and deep dive questions.

Now, what can we infer from this? Here is my conclusion

  1. We humans are wired to do stuff rather than just knowing about it. Our curiosity makes us try out more stuff and try out new things.
  2. Low number of searches with “Why” can mean that people are less interested in finding the “Truth”. They are more interested in usefulness of information they are seeking.
  3. Most of the information sources, specially news media are focussed on telling us answers to “what” 99% of the time. Entire social media is based on providing the answer to “what” e.g. what is happening in other’s life, what type of clothes others are wearing, what are the places people are traveling etc.
  4. In my knowledge, except some ( to some extent youtube and websites like wikihow) there are not much information sources providing answer to “How”. This looks like quite an untapped opportunity.
  5. Most of the school education is also focussed on “What” and not “How”. I wonder, despite having evidence that people are naturally inclined for activities and activities also increase long term concept retention, mass adoption of activity based learning is still a work in progress.

What else do you think can be learned from this information.

P.S. : If you are someone who is interested in how to adopt activity based learning in instruction, checkout this book.




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Akash Deep

Akash Deep

Curious about design, numbers and behaviour.

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