Google Trends and What They Tell Us About Lead Awareness

By Rocky Huang. Graph and map taken from Google Trends, captions and comments on the graph written by Elizabeth O’Brien. The LEAD Group Inc, Sydney, Australia.

It has come to The LEAD Group’s attention that far more people search for ‘Lead poisoning’ on Google than they do for ‘Lead testing’. We don’t expect this to change overnight or even balance (due to lead poisoning being more popular as a search in academia etc.) but our mission at The LEAD Group is to tip the scale one block at a time. These blocks will be comprised of calls to action, awareness campaigns and the ultimate child of our labour, The LEAD Group’s very own database of test results and statistics.


The LEAD Group’s work of creating the Lead Safe World Project for the inaugural World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (20th to 26th October 2013) seems to have made Australia the world leader in Google searches for the search term . The 100% figure on the above map for Australia denotes that Australians have Google-searched for more than any other country’s population. The LEAD Group’s aim is for “lead safety” to become the new positive term for acquiring knowledge AND taking action in the future. Today we find that web-searching for information on lead poisoning and lead contamination prevention and management, by using the Google search term is being led by Australia. So we’re off to a really good start after only 18 months since the Lead Safe World Project was launched! Whilst the Lead Safe World Project has until now been centred on the www.leadsafeworld.com website, it will soon be extended to a Lead Test Results Website.


Through getting this information to mainstream media, especially US media (I’ll get back to this later), we can encourage those who search for lead poisoning to act on it and hopefully urge their local healthcare professionals to promote lead testing. Google Trends has been an incredibly insightful product and teaches us a very valuable lesson about our gap: we have to ensure that we’re adding value to people’s life and that they understand the long-term benefits of a lead-safe life.

In this day and age of instant gratification, we have new opponents to our cause and their names are Attention Span Deficit, Financial Burdens and Social Media Noise. Here begins our lesson with Google Trends. Firstly, if we examine the spikes with the search phrases that we’re using for this article, ‘Lead poisoning (presented in yellow)’, ‘Lead testing (presented in red)’ and ‘Lead safety (presented in blue)’, we can see that there are correlations with these spikes. Google tells us that these are often triggered by major news events. For example M (the tallest spike for Google searches) was triggered by the Mattel toy recall in mid-2007 in the US. The recall was repeated by Mattel in Australia and other countries. We’re given the Indianapolis Star article ‘Lead poisoning fears send families to clinics’ as the example article for the contemporaneous spike (capital letter N) in searches for . This is significant as it boosted Lead into the mainstream after years and years of decline in searches. Many of the minor spikes have been the result of reports on lead poisoning by US mainstream media; hence the importance of US media in terms of lead awareness and ultimately calling for global lead testing action.

When we launch our new project, it’s vital that we have access to local media and leverage that as a boost to international media and reach our US audience that way. The design of our website will matter and will be a key weapon in combating Attention Span Deficit. We have to make the critical Lead poisoning information highly visible (preferably in graph form) and effects of Lead clearly outlined for each blood lead level threshold. Most of this information has to be accessible using maximum 3 clicks; so it’s important to have responsive design for the whole project and laser-guided SEO deployed from the get-go.

In order for the ‘flow of information to transaction’ conversion to occur, it’s important to be persuasive to our target audience in terms of convincing them that the long term health and environmental benefits of lead action is worth the financial cost of action. Infographics are incredibly useful for this sort of persuasion, as they put the information across (the hard facts) in a visually appealing yet information rich format; this is an important balance for us to get right. It’s important to remember that the focus has to be on Lead testing, as testing for Lead (in blood, paint, soil, dust, water, children’s products, cosmetics, ceramics, jewellery/jewelry, etc.) is the first required action and the best guarantee that further action will be taken to reduce lead exposure and therefore increase lead safety globally. In public health terms, if you don’t test, you can’t know which actions to take to overcome lead problems. Or, put another way, lead test results and their proper interpretation by health and environmental professionals, are the key to taking further appropriate action to reduce the enormous global impacts of lead exposure. Whereas just searching the internet or reading up on Lead poisoning and taking no action allows Lead poisoning to continue to cause IQ loss, violent crime, dementia and the early death of millions of people, Lead test results cannot be ignored by parents, renovators, workers, the aging population, companies or governments. Lead testing (not the number of Google searches) is the Key Performance Indicator of successful Lead Safety campaigns.

In terms of Social Media Noise (and media noise), we have to contend with buzzwords and irrelevant content as Lead (element) does not mean the same as lead (verb). In order to combat this, we have to be authentic and consistent with our content (hence the capitalisation of Lead in our articles) and our content has to stand out from the rest (this is where our large database comes in once we’ve wrangled all the pieces of data that it has to offer).

We hope that you’ll appreciate this information and if you have any comments or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact us via our Contact Form or mention us via social media. Thank you, for everything. Let us ride towards a lead-free future together.

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