The Blog: What Search Trends Reveal About Climate Change 

The Perspective of Search Engine Data on Climate Change

Frequent readers of The Blog will know we like to use search data to explore the bigger broader themes from time to time. No issue is larger than global warming.

rankingCoach does not support any political parties nor have any political affiliations. We do however believe that the threat of climate change is a very real thing and we should all do everything we can to stop it.

So this week we will take a look at search data on global warming, exploring what it tells us about attitudes towards climate change. We will also look at some interesting examples of how the internet is being used as a platform for promoting action and engagement with the cause. 

Search Interest and Self Interest

Despite recent media attention on Greta Thurnberg and Scandinavia, Europe is not the area of the world with the most interest in this issue:


  1. Fiji

  2. Ethiopia

  3. Zimbabwe

  4. Philippines


List of countries with the  highest search volume for the search term 'climate change' in the last 12 months, taken from Google trends on 03.09.2019

For these countries, climate change is not just an issue on the news. All of these countries are already experiencing the impact of global warming: top of the list Fiji has had fierce storms, flooding and destruction of its coral reefs;  Ethiopia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to droughts. This is also occurring in Zimbabwe and causing severe agricultural problems. The Philippines has already experienced the tragic impact of severe flooding and is reported to be the country most threatened by the effects of climate change.  

This is also the case for Hawaii in the US which has already experienced severe flooding on some of its smaller Islands and the state with the second-highest interest for the term 'global warming'. For these people the effects of climate change are already very real and so is their interest.

So how close to the effects of global warming do we need to be for people to be interested? Interest does not extend to other states in the US who are yet to experience the severe effects but will soon: Texas and Florida are two states forecast to be worst affected by global warming in the US, and yet both are in the bottom ten states for interest in the subject. 

Doubt And Search Data

The majority of countries believe that climate change is real. This is reflected in the search data: the US is the only country in the world that still trends for the search terms: 'is climate change real? and 'is global warming real?' According to the rankingCoach search tool, each term receives around 8100 and 9900 searches monthly in the US respectively.

Those of you who are concerned about doubt persisting,  will be relieved to see that the popularity of the term has plummeted in the past ten years.

Climate Change vs Economics in keyword data

One of the most amazing things about Keyword search data is its ability to show the shifts in thinking of the global population that we might otherwise misinterpret. Despite the potentially harmful effects of global warming getting closer, interest in these search terms actually peaked ten years ago and has not come close to these volumes since.

Peak interest in these keywords occurred in March of 2007. Three months before the global Live Earth concert which many hoped would kickstart real action for the cause, but according to search data, interest was already declining before the concert had even taken place. 

The drop in interest coincides with another historical event: the financial crisis. The peak of interest in climate change appears just before the subprime mortgage crisis broke into the news in 2007. At this point we see interest dropping significantly and then plummeting as these economic issues became a global financial crisis. 

As economic issues caused by the crisis set in, people began to adjust their political priorities. It is no coincidence that searches for global warming effectively halved on the previous month at the exact time that searches for unemployment hit an all-time high.

This search data highlights the importance of economic concerns in preventing people's engagement with climate change. It suggests that more arguments need to be made for the huge potential of green initiatives to create jobs and provide financial stability. 

New Opportunities Through Digital Marketing

As the internet evolves we find NGOs, charities, and activists using digital marketing channels in more and more interesting ways to create interest in climate change.

Italian Ludovico Einaudi's video collaboration with Greenpeace on his composition "Elegy for the Arctic" shows the composer playing the piece live on a floating platform surrounded by the melting Arctic ice caps. It's a hauntingly powerful, visual-sonic message that stays with the viewer far longer than most written articles would. 

The video has clearly been a success in provoking a response: receiving over ten and a half million views and creating a rare example of engaged and intelligent conversation on a youtube video comments section. 

The Internet As A Platform For Change

It is highly likely that no one outside of Sweden would know who Greta Thurnberg was if it wasn't for the internet and social media. Online videos of her speeches have made her climate change protests into a global movement. 

Since Greta's rise in prominence, many people have raised the question of what can one person really do? Well according to the search data quite a lot. In fact, global searches for Greta Thernberg have frequently surpassed those of searches for global warming in the last two months. The highest density for these searches occurs in northern Europe where she comes from. We need more people like Greta in other parts of the world to inspire more people to join the cause.

This is the century when the future of the earth's climate will be decided. Search trends provide us with important insights into the history of this issue. Digital media may also be one of our most vital tools for bringing about genuine change. 


We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. For more news and tips on digital marketing check out The Blog from rankingCoach




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