By Patrick May
San Jose Mercury News.
“Hi,” Roya Soleimani chirps merrily into the telephone. “It’s Google calling.”
It’s also 8:30 on a recent Friday morning, which for Google’s grande dame of trend-spotting means it’s showtime.
Over the next two hours, the bubbly communication manager for Google’s search-trend team talks with radio stations around the nation about what the masses have been asking the world’s largest search engine over the past week.
“Sharing these trends each week gives people a lens into a particular moment in time,” says the 29-year-old Iranian-American, who first got her on-the-air bug reading news for the Voice of America Persian in Washington. “We pick five of the top search trends that have climbed dramatically from the week before, giving listeners that weekly pulse. And it’s like catnip, because people love to find out what other people are searching for.”
She has a theory behind our collective fascination with what dominates that Google search box each week: “It’s like this shared experience,” says Soleimani, coffee cup at her side and iPhone in hand as she awaits her next radio session. “And there’s something almost comforting about knowing others are curious about the same thing you are.”
Every Thursday, Soleimani and her small team scour the week’s search landscape with the help of Google’s data-miners.
They identify 200 top trends, those searches that have jumped like crazy over the past few days, and winnow them down to their top five, leaving on the cutting-room floor those less interesting themes like crazy weather patterns and hackneyed celebrity gossip.
Sitting at her MacBook Air at a large wooden table at an apartment on San Francisco’s Russian Hill, “I do the calls from my boyfriend’s place so I don’t disturb my roommate!” she says, Soleimani dives into her schtick, serving heaping portions of Google gossip to listeners in Minneapolis and Dallas, North Carolina and California.