The United States women’s national soccer team won their 4th World Cup title with a 2-0 win against the Netherlands on July 7th, 2019. The team overcame a lot of opposition both on and off the field, broke many records, and brought a serious amount of pride home for Americans, especially women’s and LGBTQ rights advocates.
As a digital marketer and soccer enthusiast, I was curious to see some of the trends surrounding the World Cup and soccer in general over the past few months. I found myself going down a rabbit hole and looking at Google Trends over the past 15 years.
Google Trends is a free tool to understand popularity trends for specific search terms over time. It’s a quick and easy way to see overall market demand and search trends over time.
For example, the graph below shows how searches for “women’s soccer” increased leading up to and during the World Cup.
Of course, it trended up and to the right over the month of June when the tournament took flight (no rhyme intended.)
Next, I wanted to see a more bird’s eye view of “women’s soccer” searches over time to see if 2019 was the most popular year in terms of “women’s soccer” searches.
I was excited to see 2019 had the highest volume of “women’s soccer” searches, surpassing the spike from the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
The major peaks in the graph above occur about every four years during the Women’s World Cup. The 2012 spike is from the US win against Japan in the 2012 Women’s Olympic Final. Interestingly, we didn’t see as big of a spike when the US beat Japan in the 2015 World Cup Final, the most highly-esteemed honor for an international soccer championship. Still, this shows interest in women’s soccer increased significantly this year compared to the past.
As the Women’s World Cup was going on this year, so was the Men’s Gold Cup, a tournament including teams from North and Central America. The US men’s team played in the final, the same day the women won the World Cup Final. Naturally, I wanted to see how the two searches compared this year and over time.
This graph shows that “us women’s soccer” searches peak more interest than “us men’s soccer” searches. However, I realized when I used to search for us men’s soccer, I would only type “us soccer” in the search bar. It was intended to be faster and I recall the SERP results showing men’s soccer related search results, but I now realize my association with US soccer was male-focused. Oh, how I’ve learned!
I plugged in “us soccer” as a third search term to compare and the results were astounding.
“US soccer” searches have continuously been more popular than “us women’s soccer” and “us men’s soccer” searches, which makes sense since it’s a higher funnel search anyway. It is interesting to see the two major spikes in “US soccer” searches were during the 2014 men’s World Cup and 2019 women’s World Cup. In 2014, the US men’s national team made it out of the “group of death,” the hardest group determined by soccer analysts in the 2014 World Cup. This shows “US soccer” interest peaks when we’re winning.
When you search “US soccer” today, the top SERP real estate is rightfully dominated by the US women’s team. In the SERP, you’ll find a knowledge graph of matches and standings as well as news articles about the individual and team records set.
Thanks to Google Trends I’m able to test my hypothesis that soccer is growing in popularity within the US in large part due to the success of the US women’s national team. The data doesn’t lie, and US women are scoring BIG on Google Trends. So, from this digital marketer’s perspective its time they’re recognized for this contribution and receive equal pay!