For one, the Trends tools scale results from 0 to 100 based on the most popular term entered, while the Google Health API returns a scaled proportion based on all searches performed in a specified region and time period.
Additionally, the Google Trends website and API allow users to compare five distinct sets of search terms simultaneously, while the Google Health API allows users to compare up to 30 distinct sets — and, because the values are not scaled to the highest result, you can combine the results of multiple Health API queries if you have more than 30 terms.
Both APIs require an application before gaining access, which is restricted to specific use cases.
Researchers should weigh the benefits and limitations of each resource in light of their particular project.
In particular, the kinds of searches that users perform can be a good proxy for the public’s interests, concerns or intentions, but these searches do not necessarily represent users’ opinions.
For instance, high numbers of searches for “immigration border wall cost” indicate that there is a high level of interest in that topic, but we cannot know if that interest reflects support, opposition or simple curiosity.One possible solution to comparing more than five terms in the Google Trends interface would be to create a set of queries that all share one single overlapping term (or set of terms) and then compare all the results in relation to that overlapping term.Often, researchers aren’t interested in comparing more than five terms because they are not conceptually distinct.Moratorium students regarded their Facebook use as passive and did not feel their online use deepened their identity development.All students agreed that their current Facebook profiles no longer represent their identities accurately.Additionally, people perform searches when they want to find more information, suggesting that search results may favor events or issues that are newly in the public eye.For example, in our study about the Flint water crisis, we found that the majority of the cases of heightened search activity coincided with major events in the story and increased attention from news media or political figures.Findings revealed that identity achievement students regarded their social media use as active and were more likely to use Facebook to research future goals.These students felt Facebook deepened interests in aspects of their identity and often used Facebook to follow-up with classwork/homework.Which Google tool is best for answering my question?There are several different tools to explore Google search data: the public Google Trends website, the Google Trends API and the Google Health API.