The Lead Up To the Super Bowl: How Are We Searching?

football-200pxSince 2009, I’ve been writing articles here on Search Engine Land about how Super Bowl commercials influence online behavior and how well (or not) advertisers have taken advantage of that online opportunity. One clear trend has been that each year, these commercials trigger increased online activities. This is both because each year, we are more likely to juggle multiple devices while we watch the game (TV + mobile phones + tablets + laptops +….) and because we have so many more places online to interact.

In 2010, we searched for information. In 2011, we went to Facebook and went to YouTube to see the videos again. In 2012, we talked about commercials on Twitter using hashtags. And, we didn’t replace one activity with another. We mostly added these new behaviors to what we were already doing. So, now we’re searching and Tweeting and Facebooking and YouTubing. What will we add this year? (I’m pretty sure we won’t start QR coding.)

GoDaddy QR Code

Over the years, more advertisers have included an online component with these Super Bowl campaigns; but amazingly, there have always been a few that don’t seem to know the Internet exists at all. I can’t wait to see what happens this year.

Our Increased Use Of Multiple Screens

According to Nielsen, Super Bowl viewership has grown 26% in the last ten years. Last year, over 111 million of us watched the Super Bowl. Adobe predicts that mobile viewing will double on Sunday.

Multiple Screens

Multiple Screens

It’s clear that with all of these viewers with multiple devices at the ready, advertisers need to be prepared online as the commercials air. Do their sites rank well in search results for searches for their brands, products, and taglines? Do they feature the  commercials on their sites? As you can see from Google Trends data of some of last year’s advertisers, the search interest is very short term, so advertisers need to make sure they are ready to take full advantage of that interest when it happens.

search interest 2012

How Super Bowl Commercials Impact Website Visits

Each year, my analysis finds that commercials cause people to search, which in turn causes people to visit advertiser websites. Adobe found this as well, noting that Super Bowl advertisers see a 20% increase of traffic on game day and that increased traffic levels last about a week (which corresponds to what Google Trends shows in the above graph). As always, I’ll watch this year to see who showcases their Super Bowl ads on their sites (it’s amazing how many haven’t in the past) as that is an obvious way to engage viewers.

What We’re Searching For

Bing has noted that we’re searching for information on the 49ers twice as much as we are on the Ravens. Yahoo has found the same. And according to Neilsen, also has more site visits than

As always, we’re searching for recipes for snacks to eat during the game. For instance, has seen significant spikes in search interest for appetizer recipes in the weeks leading up to the big day. Below, you can see how Blueprint (my company’s search analytics software) is tracking increased search impressions and the number of queries for which shows up (which in turn has increased traffic from searches in that category).


What Time Does the Super Bowl Start?

Every year, everyone wants to know what time the Super Bowl starts. In years past, this has been difficult to determine from searching until last year, when the NFL finally started answering the question. As Slate points out, though, this type of search may be less important for companies to rank for as Google provides that answer instantly.

super bowl start


But, value still exists on Bing, where the time is neglected.

Bing start time

And, in case you were wondering, HuffPo is still at it (successfully), as their article explaining all the various ways we search for the Super Bowl start time ranks number one in Google. With an expired image as the main attraction.


(Stock image via Used under license.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Features: Analysis | Search & Society


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

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  • David DuVal

    The Superbowl is such a strange phenomenon to me. “Fans” want to watch people get hurt and then laugh at the commercials. As web developer and promoter what I get out of this is I should make more funny websites that show people being aggressive or getting angry. I should appeal to the sadistic nature of human beings. Oh, the humanity! :)

  • TheMadHat

    We put together some cool data from Facebook. 49ers are getting most of the love. It’s interesting to drill down on age, most of the Ravens fans are on the younger side.

  • Shoutheasken1961

    Its amazing how the show convince viewers? As always, I’ll watch this year to see who showcases their Super Bowl ads on their sites.

  • Michal Smetana

    I think that many people are looking forward to the Super Bowl just because of the brand commercials that are being broadcasted. I think that this is mainly the phenomenon of non-American people. Don’t you think?

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