Kicking around search trends for the World Cup

If you’re a certain type of sports fan, you’ve been waiting four years to get to June 11, 2010—the kick-off of the World Cup and 30 days of football (soccer to some of us) madness, with 64 matches played by 32 teams from around the world.

As we’ve done before, we took a look at the search data using tools like Google Insights for Search—as well as some internal resources—to see what we could uncover about the upcoming tournament and its global audience. Search patterns can truly reflect the “pulse” of the world, and we found that the pulse of World Cup fever is beating strong as millions of fans hold tight to the hope that their team will make history as the 2010 champion.

It’s often said that football is a global sport, and that’s certainly true in search. Searches for [world cup 2010], [copa mundial] and [월드 컵] are all spiking, although overall World Cup buzz seems to be off to a slower start in 2010 than in the months leading up to the 2006 tournament, based on global trends for queries like [world cup] and [fifa world cup]. India is the #1 country searching for [fifa world cup schedule], [fifa 2010 schedule] and similar queries. And as the match-up between anglophone rivals England and USA approaches, searches for [england world cup] continue to far surpass interest in [usa world cup].

Most of us will be watching the matches on TV in pubs and living rooms, but a few lucky spectators will get to watch in person in South Africa. Searches for [world cup tickets] peaked in mid-April, and have since declined. But whether home or abroad, we’re all searching for the best way to show support for our team. Searches for [world cup decoration] have risen, and a glimpse at the Dutch shows queries for [oranje versiering] (“orange decoration”; orange is the Netherland’s national color) and [orange] have risen sharply for the last three months, as they have in 2006 and 2008 for the World Cup and European Cup.

All eyes—and hopes—are now hanging on the football stars who will be dribbling, passing and scoring for their countries. In search, the winning player is already clear: Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese team captain and talented forward.

Google Insights for Search
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But many others are also being closely watched, especially the handful of players who have been injured in the days leading up to the start of the tournament. Queries on the Ivory Coast’s [drogba], England’s [rooney], Germany’s [ballack] and Italy’s [pirlo] have all spiked in this fashion. And the Netherlands is apparently far more concerned about Arjen Robben’s injury than their national elections. In the days leading up to the June 9 elections, between four and five times as many searches were done for [robben] than either of the two popular candidates [wilders] or [balkenende].

We’ll be back throughout the next month to highlight more search trends from the World Cup. In the meantime, you can explore trends on your own using Google Trends and Google Insights for Search, or see what topics other fans are discussing with the “Updates” mode and other search tools in the left panel of your Google search results page.

Posted by Jaime Forman-Lau, Consumer Operations Strategist

Watch top sites on Google Trends- downfall in many sites in 2010

Google Trends is a great tool to get an overview on terms people are searching for with the largest search engine in the world. It also shows interesting trends. And something is definitely going on with searches for a few large social networks using Google.

At some point in mid January, a group of sites including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare saw a huge drop in number of searches for their domains. Now, to be clear, these are only searches for the .com names, for example, “facebook.com” and “youtube.com” and not just the terms “facebook” and “youtube” themselves. Still, across the board, traffic had been rising for these .com domains and then at the same time all dropped off a cliff.

One might think this has to do with the China situation (Google warned it might have to pull out of China after saying it would remove previous restraints on searches). But drilling down into the data shows that while the searches from China did take a big fall, they did as well from other countries around the world too.

Other sites saw drops as well, but by far these large social sites saw the most pronounced drops that all seem to be aligned. Weirdly, google.com did not see any drop (though I’m not sure who uses Google to google google.com).

We’ve reached out to Google for some clarification or insight into this and will update when we hear back. The logical answer would seem to be that they switched something in mid-January that led to these huge drops in social site searches on Google, but who knows. Maybe we have a wild honey bee extinction situation going on here within Google.

Update: Google’s own Orkut.com also seeing a drop. As are several popular European social sites like Tuenti.com.