Game of Thrones – The Most-Watched Deaths, Popular Costumes and Other Search Trends
Game of Thrones is back!
And we’re all incredibly excited about it.
So we decided to do a little research on Game of Thrones-related Google Trends – to see if we could find any interesting correlations.
Please note there will be spoilers in this post. If you haven’t seen up to the end of season 6, then read no further!
Also, these trends are based on worldwide data, unless stated otherwise.
Game of Thrones Deaths
Death is not really a big deal in Game of Thrones (it happens in literally every episode).
Except for when it’s a major character who gets the chop. Or the noose.
According to Google Trends, there was more interest in Jon Snow’s death than any other in the show so far.
Joffrey’s death was second, followed by the untimely demise of Prince Oberyn.
This makes sense, right? Jon Snow is the show’s poster boy, and almost universally loved by the fans.
In fact, people love him so much, they don’t want to watch him die over and over again.
Looking at YouTube Trends, we can see that people enjoy re-watching the death of Joffrey more than that of Jon Snow.
Of course, these are all single deaths.
When it comes to a complete massacre, with multiple main characters dying at once, the Red Wedding has everyone beat.
That’s on both Google and YouTube Trends.
Interest in the Red Wedding spiked again last year, possibly due to Arya Stark’s vengeance against the reprehensible Frey’s in the finale of season 6.
I wanted to know how I, or anybody, could use this information as part of a digital marketing strategy.
So, I spoke to Tom Ives, who heads up our Programmatic team, and he (disgustingly) doesn’t watch the show.
He was cool with me spoiling some deaths and so I took great pleasure in showing him how The Mountain crushes Oberyn’s face in Season 4.
Then we started bouncing some ideas around, like having Neurofen advertise before this video – with a “splitting headache” message.
Target these on the commute, so the user can pop into the store before work – then re-engage users every few days on the way home, with “a hard day’s work can make your head explode” messages.
Aside from playing the gory angle, strength and fitness brands could certainly play on the epic display of power from The Mountain, using a similar strategy.
With Joffrey’s death, we spoke about an opportunity for a public service announcement regarding spiked drinks.
Or on the flipside, a supermarket selling wine that is not poisoned. Of course, this requires 18+ targeting given the subject matter.
Game of Thrones Costumes
There’s nothing die-hard fans love better than actually dressing up as their favourite characters.
Normally it’s for Halloween, Comic-Con, or some fancy dress event.
So, who is the most popular character to dress as?
By quite some distance, it’s Daenerys Targaryen.
Only Jon Snow actually beats the Mother of Dragons at any one time, for a very brief period last year.
The rest aren’t too popular, with Tyrion and Cersei gaining a little interest, but not enough to compete with the show’s biggest stars.
However, maybe this is because Tyrion doesn’t have a very distinctive outfit?
Come to think of it, aren’t most characters wearing generic medieval clothing, relevant to their status in the world, and the House in which they are a member of?
House Targaryen is still the most popular, followed by Stark and then Lannister.
I couldn’t find any interest in a Greyjoy costume, or anything for the Tyrells, Martells or Baratheons.
However, there was a little volume for a Night’s Watch costume – and even more for the White Walkers.
People would rather dress up as an ice zombie than a Lannister. Says a lot.
Again, I asked around the office, to see if anyone had any ideas on how this information might be useful, if they ran some sort of costume/fancy dress business.
One of our Paid Media Executives, Chris Morris, had a couple of suggestions.
First, we could run two separate paid search campaigns that are split by gender.
They would be targeting the exact same keyword (game of thrones costumes), but would present slightly different results.
For example, men would be directed to a landing page set up specifically for Jon Snow costumes, and the women directed to one created for Daenerys costumes.
We could also implement ‘countdown ads’ the week prior to Halloween, to count down to October 31st, and create a sense of urgency with users.
The ads would look something like this:
Game of Thrones – Character Legacy
What happens to a character’s name when they cease to exist?
Does it fade away into the winds of winter? Or does it live on through other characters?
Some, like Ned Stark, become more popular after their demise.
Of course, the fact that the show is much more successful now that it was in 2011, when Ned Stark died, obviously plays a part.
But his popularity has been climbing almost every year, particularly in 2016 when, we suspect, the revelations of Jon Snow’s parentage might have had an effect.
Prince Oberyn Martell, however…
…clearly peaked with his death.
Joffrey Baratheon was not much more popular after death than he was before.
It’s interesting that Robb sees a spike at the beginning and end of each season, whilst Catelyn only sees interest grow at the end.
How Game of Thrones has Impacted Search
A couple of weeks ago, we posted a blog about how the new Miley Cyrus Single – ‘Malibu’ had caused a surge in ‘flights to Malibu’ searches.
The world in which Game of Thrones is set is obviously fictional. However, we can see that some real world ‘things’ have been impacted by the show.
For example, dragons (OK, not ‘real world’, but they ‘exist’ outside Game of Thrones).
Dragons have been a part of fantasy culture for centuries – but interest was dwindling between 2006 and 2011.
Then, the season 1 finale of Game of Thrones introduced three baby dragons.
And this is what happened:
Also of note is the interest in people getting direwolf tattoos.
The Starks are clearly a very popular House!
Based on this information, I asked one of our SEO strategist, Edward Turner, for insight into how he would use this information, as part of a digital campaign.
Instead of giving me a few brief ideas, he wrote a long document. So I’m just going to copy and paste…
Earlier today, my pal Matt came up to me and asked me how I’d go about “SEO’ing wolf tattoos” as a keyword.
Assuming I was running an SEO campaign for a tattoo parlour, here are a few ways I’d look to get some organic visibility in this area.
First, let’s take a look at the Google SERP for the keyword wolf tattoos.
This search is all about images.
The intent here is clear: people are looking for inspiration for their next tattoo – most people will take their design and go to their local or favoured tattoo artist.
The yellow highlighted images on the above grid are all Pinterest images, so Pinterest might be a good place to start to achieve some instant search visibility for my tattoo business.
By the way – I absolutely get that optimisation of a Pinterest board isn’t necessarily going to affect your website rankings, but it is a quick way for your brand to become present for these keywords.
Here’s what I would do:
- Create a Pinterest account for the tattoo parlour and start curating a Pinterest Board called “Wolf Tattoos”.
Tereza Litsa has written a great post on Search Engine Watch on how to optimise your Pinterest account for SEO. Here’s what I’d be looking at:
- Does my Pinterest username include the word tattoo? Your username is also your URL, so make sure it’s relevant. E.g. pinterest.com/tattooed
- Verify your account – according to Tereza, verified accounts perform better.
- My Pinterest boards should be named sensibly but also well-optimised. Unsurprisingly, I’d look to call my wolf tattoo board… Wolf Tattoos. My friend and colleague Emma Rose has a beautifully organised Pinterest board.
- I’d start pinning some amazing wolf tattoo images, and write a thoughtful and detailed description for each that includes your keyword wolf tattoo. For example: “The level of detail on this wolf tattoo is insane. The way the artist has captured movement in the whiskers…”
- Pin images consistently from my own site. Photographing the tattoos I create would be right at the top of my priorities list. If I had any photos of wolf tattoos I’d done, they would be on my site and pinned on my board. The links are nofollow, but they’re still brand awareness, and potentially a click-through from a future customer.
- Lastly… use rich pins, pin only quality images, and try to pin as much as possible
- Write an in-depth, visual piece about wolf tattoos that’s hosted on-site
The first page after Pinterest is from a site called Mens Tattoo Ideas. They have an exhaustive guide to wolf tattoos for men which caters specifically to what these searchers want: inspiration. It’s over 2,000 words of informative content, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s ranking so well.
Textbook on-page SEO.
- Optimise your images.
Since this is such a visual search, it can’t hurt to make sure your images are optimised as much as possible.
Another page that ranks on page 1 for wolf tattoos is from a site called Next Luxury. These guys have put in the work to optimise their images and they’re getting the rewards for it.
Each of the 70 images on the page use a different keyword for each image, which is clever because they’re not over-optimising for a single keyword, but sending signals out that they have a wealth of different types of images to see e.g. Alpha Wolf Tattoos for Men, Wolf Silhouette Tattoo Men, Wolf Shoulder Tattoo on Man.
Digging a little deeper, I can see a lot of the alt text keywords used aren’t actually true of the images themselves – there’s a picture of a wolf tattoo on a guy’s arm with the alt text “Wolf Chest Tattoo For Men”.
Still, it’s paying dividends. In the same screenshot from earlier I’ve highlighted that 4 out of the 15 images Google is pulling into the instant image results are from this site.
One of our favourite real-world trends, however, is the number of people who are watching Game of Thrones, and actively going out to visit real life castles.
The increase in searches for ‘castles near me’ (UK) clearly correlates with the show.
The Most Depressing Search Trends Ever
The good news, for Game of Thrones fans in the UK, is that it is by far the most popular television show.
Here, we compare it to some of the other big hits.
However, when you throw in absolute rubbish…things get a little depressing.
You genuinely begin to worry about the future of this country.