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2009 MAY–JUNE No. 368
May 28, 2009 [posted]

Search Clouds on MedlinePlus®

graphical image of the letter O

On April 22, 2009, NLM® introduced search clouds in English for MedlinePlus and in Spanish for MedlinePlus en español. The search clouds display the top 100 searches from each site and are updated each week day. The search terms appear in alphabetical order, with the size representing the relative frequency (see Figure 1). The bigger the term, the more often it is searched by people who visit MedlinePlus or MedlinePlus en español. A term's exact ranking is found by placing the cursor over the term. By simply clicking on a term in the cloud, users can conduct a search for that term in MedlinePlus. The search clouds are linked from the MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español homepages.

The search clouds provide insight into the search behavior of MedlinePlus users and can be used to gauge current public interest in major health issues. As the most popular searches change over time and with the seasons, visitors can see the dynamic and diverse interests of MedlinePlus users. For instance, the term "tick bites" might appear in the English cloud during the summer, and the term "frostbite" might appear in the winter.

By Sarena K. Burgess
Reference & Web Services Section

Burgess SK. Search Clouds on MedlinePlus®. NLM Tech Bull. 2009 May-Jun;(368):e10.