I spent the better part of this afternoon playing with a free new Google utility called Google Insights for Search. Designed for online marketers, Insights for Search is, effectively, a search engine for search engines searches.
Enter any word or phrase, and you can see not only how many times the word or phrase was searched (actually, you have to sign in to your Google account for that particular information, but it's available), but the search trend over time. You can filter by geography to get a look at where searches are coming from, and you can also filter by time period if, for example, you want to see search patterns around a specific news event.
That's powerful enough all by itself, but wait, there's more! Insights for Search will also show you the top related searches (my search on the word "database" found that "sql database" was the top related search). Further, Insights for Search will also show what it calls "rising searches," related words and phrases that are rapidly growing in popularity. In a search on the phrase "company database," I learned that there is a lot of interest around databases of software companies and databases of insurance companies.
Most of the press write-ups of Insights for Search focus on the geographical filter, which should be of tremendous value to those involved in local search marketing. But for those of us interested in competitive insights and even new product ideas, there's a lot of gold to be mined here. Check it out for yourself ... but before you do, set aside the afternoon.