Google Trends is a handy tool to show interest in terms of how often people search for stuff. Here’s the graph for the USA and California showing how often people searched for “bicycle” from 2004 through 2013.
We see sharp peaks during mid-summer in California and nationwide. The interesting thing to me: an apparent decline in online interest over the years, in spite of increased levels of cycling.
This varying interest is more apparent when you drill down to a specific region. We see a sharp decline in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, from 2009 to 2011 before interest shoots back up, though never to the peaks for 2004 and 2005.
Any insight to what this apparently means? Is this an artifact of greater interest in non-Google social media platforms and less interest in search? Or perhaps more time in the saddle means less time in front of the computer screen?
Let’s play with a few other topics:
- “bike share” – U.S. interest seems to begin about 2007, whereas Google doesn’t track any interest from California until late in 2010.
- “copenhagen wheel” – We see initial mention in 2009, and then boom it went viral this year.
- “lance armstrong”
The bicycle trend did grow each season until a couple years ago when Google changed the algorithm. My guess is the trend is diluted by the ever growing contend on the web. The downward trend also appears with neutral words like “shelter” and country/city names.