For example, one of the suggested search terms I noticed late in the day was:
plane crash austin today
(Note I am assuming, without direct knowledge that I am correct, that "suggested" search terms are generated by Google at least in part from a preponderance of what users are actually searching for.)
The appearance of "today" in the phrase dramatizes the evolution of both the Web and the search engines. Timely news did not originally find its way into the search engines. Not so long ago, you could search for "plane crash austin" on the day an event happened, and only get returns that referenced an Austin plane crash several years prior (if there had been one).
The other thing that's kind of fun about "plane crash austin today" is that it's totally a "mayfly" search string. Nobody will ever enter that search string again. Today people are presumably looking for "plane crash austin yesterday".
Anyway, that's what got me started.
Then Marsh and I were talking about the fact that the FBI had taken down the flyer's "suicide letter page," and the fact that individuals and news outlets had already captured it, and that it was still readily available all over the Web. That led us to try the search:
plane crash ma...
...which immediately filled in to provide the suggestion:
plane crash manifesto
Now, I don't think the alleged author, Joe Stack, had given his page a title. People were already acknowledging it wasn't a "letter." Clearly it was a Web page, but "suicide page" just sounds weird. Some newscasters were relating it to a "journal," which didn't seem quite right either. And here was evidence that some critical mass of Google users were thinking of it as a "manifesto."
Thousands of people, sitting down at their computers, curious about events, and trying to compose a string of words to sum up the essence of something based on limited knowledge -- and calling it "plane crash manifesto."
Fiction writers: does this sound like a familiar problem?!
So here's the idea: one of those times you're stuck for a title for your story or novel, a new trick to try. Based on what you know of the piece, how would you search for it in Google so as to find it on the Web?
Here's the exercise as applied to a piece I wrote a couple of years ago, working title "Patron." I've never been thrilled with the title. Here's a first "Google" effort:
medieval muralist patron witch
Very rough. Needs work. But it already points in a fresh direction I never considered before. "Patron Witch." "Witch Patron." Possibilities.
Let me know how it works for you.