I'm trying to group the popularity of various topics and categories on my website by looking at what my users are searching for. Working with a spreadsheet has proven extremely difficult. For example, users may search for:

  • build house
  • how to build a house
  • home building
  • build hous (misspelling)

and so on.

This is actually a two-part question:

  1. Can you point me to any methods, algorithms, etc. that will help in grouping search phrases together?
  2. Is there any free or inexpensive data visualization software that I can use to draw conclusions from the data? Preferably, I'd like to find something that can also be used by non-programmer types (so let's count R out)...

1 Answer 1


Take a look at the TM (text mining) package within R and RStudio. It helps you quickly remove common stop words, punctuation, misspellings, and other occurrences to then focus on the true words and phrases. You can then analyze word frequency as well as word associations given a desired threshold. This should help you determine what words or phrases to group together e.g. house + building + renovation.

There are several different ways to visualize text data, but the two that come to mind is to graph frequency via bar graphs (e.g. using the ggplot package) or via word clouds (using the wordcloud package).

And best of all, none of this will cost you anything.


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