Which city is Canada’s greatest hockey city?

Just in time for the 2011 NHL Playoffs, the Mediative team were debating which hockey city deserves the title of “Canada’s greatest hockey city”. The discussion quickly turned search related as it was brought up that top listings for the term “Canada’s greatest hockey city” should be factored in when crowning a winner. If you do a search, you’ll see that the top listing is Edmonton related. Now in the 80’s I wouldn’t question this, but not now.

This got me thinking; can we base the title of “Canada’s greatest hockey city” around SEO? Content of the number 1 listing aside for this keyword, I started thinking about the value of a single keyword vs. the value of keyword themes coupled with strong brand authority. When mapping out keywords for clients we often segment based on relevance to one another. Take Kleenex for example. Their terms may include non-branded keywords like, “facial tissue”, “soft tissue for your face”, and branded terms like “kleenex facial tissue” or even simply “kleenex”. Without throwing in stats we could assume that those searching for branded terms are higher qualified searchers that know what they want. Searchers maybe thinking “facial tissue” but they already know the top dog in the industry is Kleenex. Thus higher search trends for “Kleenex”. See below:

Web search interest kleenex

Relating this back to “Canada’s greatest hockey city”, if we include the hockey cities team names as our branded terms, the argument of which Canadian city actually is the greatest could be put to rest. No one is really searching for “Canada’s greatest hockey city” as a search term and those that do are in such small volume to make conclusions as to whether or not they are even qualified enough to be added into the argument. So let’s focus on those searchers that know a little about hockey and search for the “branded” terms.

“Vancouver Canucks” has 135,000 monthly searches compared to the 90,500 searches for “Edmonton Oilers”. This already speaks volumes about which team searchers search for more when they are thinking of “Canada’s greatest hockey city”.

Since 2008, “Edmonton Oilers” had only 4 months in total where the search volume was higher than that of “Vancouver Canucks”.

Web search interest hockey teams

Of these months, significant news included; July 2009, a recap of the Canucks beating the Oilers 4-2, July 2010, prospect news about the future of the team (Taylor Hall buzz), October 2010, the start of the 2010-2011 NHL season when hopes were high for the Oil. Notice the steadily increasing volumes for Vancouver.

Since the start of the 2010-2011 NHL regular season, “Edmonton Oilers” related searches have decreased significantly in comparison to “Vancouver Canucks” steady volume.

Web search interest hockey teams

The significant spike in searchers for “Edmonton Oilers” during this time frame was on December 15, 2010 when the Oilers introduced their Cheerleaders. Not the best defining moment for a city that would like to be called “Canada’s greatest hockey city”.

Now based on the above we can make our own assumptions as to whether or not we can say that when a searcher is thinking of “Canada’s greatest hockey city” they already have Vancouver in mind, therefore Vancouver is more worthy than Edmonton for the title of “Canada’s greatest hockey city”, but what about the other cities?

Web search interest canadian hockey teams

Conclusion: When it comes to hockey we can’t determine “Canada’s greatest hockey city” based on SEO alone. So let’s just look at the standings following the end of the 2010-2011 NHL regular season.

Graph standing