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Google Trends: How popular are the Timbers?

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I was reading the Oregonian today and there was an article which talked about the top ten Portland searches for 2011. The top ten are:

1. Oregon DMV
2. Oregon Unemployment
3. Oregonian
4. PCC (Portland Community College)
5. Multnomah county library
6. oregon live (The website that publishes Oregonian articles)
7. OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
8. portland timbers (Promoted this year to Major League Soccer)
9. portland general electric
10. occupy portland

This started the old thinking juices flowing and I started looking for national search trends on the Portland Timbers with Google Insights. Which then lead me to look at how the Timbers compared to other MLS teams. The results were surprising and not because the Timbers did well. Find out why after the jump.

Just to see if the age old adage "a larger market generates more interest" is correct or not I decided to compare the Timbers against both the New York Redbulls and the LA Galaxy. Since Portland has become the new darling of MLS I wanted to compare how the Timbers against the previous MLS darling, the Seattle Sounders. Finally to get some perspective I threw in one of the older clubs in the midwest, the Columbus Crew.

For each team I put a basic search query, which were Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, New York Redbulls, Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy Soccer (I had to do this query because LA Galaxy had searches like Mario Galaxy or Samsung Galaxy attached to it). The results (for all of them click here) were then shown in different ways such as bar graphs, line graphs and regional interest breakdowns.

Before the results an explanation as to what the numbers mean in the results. Here is Google's convoluted answer:

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don't represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100. Each point on the graph is divided by the highest point, or 100. When we don't have enough data, 0 is shown. The numbers next to the search terms above the graph are summaries, or totals.

For those of you like me who are not statisticians and can't speak their language what Google did was take the highest point and made that 100 and compared all other points to that peak. So here is the line graph comparing all the search queries from 2004-2011.

As you can see the Seattle Sounders returned the highest peak in 2009 when they first entered the MLS. Portland had a similar peak in March 2011 when they entered the league. However the biggest surprise has to be the complete lack of searches done for the New York Redbulls. I even tried changes the words around but all the other combinations showed even less results. New York is not paying attention to the New Jersey Energy Drinks and neither is the rest of the country.

Despite having three DP's and one of the most recognizable soccer players in the world the LA Galaxy just aren't as big as some people think they are. However Columbus is bigger than what most people think and apparently more popular.

Just looking at the results brings about more questions than answers but one thing that stands out from the results and that is the fact that the Pacific Northwest is becoming the Kings of MLS.