[This article originally appeared at FionaBroome.com.]
2019 looks like a good year for ghost hunting events, tours, and vigils. In my previous article, Ghosts & Paranormal Trends – 2019, I described general trends.
In this article, I’m focusing on Google search trends – for “ghost hunting” – in the US and the UK, to see what fans and researchers are looking for.
Summary: In the US and the UK, an increasing number of people are interested in encountering ghosts, themselves.
In the US, they’re interested in ghost hunting equipment & how it works.
UK fans have maintained a steadier interest in ghosts. In the UK, people are looking for ghost hunting events, especially when they can learn from pros, and test-drive ghost hunting equipment, themselves.
In both countries, to reach wider audiences, TV shows and events could include ghost hunt pros (as “invited guests”), and share how-to sidebars, information, or workshops.
Here are the trends, as I see them.
In the US, ghost hunting enthusiasts seem most interested in ghost hunting on their own. Events and tours (and TV shows) can make the most of this by including how-to information.
And, in the case of events & tours, letting visitors borrow ghost hunting tools.
In the UK, people are looking for ghost hunting events, sometimes with specific people. They’re also looking for ghost hunting equipment, and shops that sell them.
Here are the graphs from late January 2019.
Ghost Hunting Trends
First, “ghost hunting” searches in the US, since 2004. I’m not sure if interest has stabilized or is increasing slightly in the past six months.
Here’s a five-year US graph for “ghost hunting” Google searches. I think the 2015 spike can be attributed to Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015).
Also, I think the 2016 decline may related to the announcement that Ghost Hunters’ TV series had been canceled. (Last episode was Halloween 2016.) I think that announcement was a social cue that – in the network’s opinion – the ghost hunting trend was over.
That may have been a self-fulfilling message/prophecy.
Here’s that same search (“ghost hunting”) for the UK, since 2004. There, it looks more stable over a longer period of time, and perhaps declining slightly since early 2013.
Here’s that same Google UK search graph – “ghost hunting” – since early 2014. To me, the past five years look fairly stable, with a downturn after Halloween, but an uptick with the new season of “Most Haunted” and other shows.
Next, I looked at “ghost hunting events.” What I saw surprised me.
Ghost Hunting Events Trends
Google had no graph for that term in the US; there weren’t enough searches. But – interestingly – the areas where Americans search for “ghosts” and “ghost hunting” were places hosting ghost hunting events around the time of the search.
So, though those searches may reflect recently aired TV shows, I think Americans are less likely to add the word “events” when they’re looking for… well… a ghost hunting tour or event.
By contrast, “ghost hunting events” regularly appears on Google’s “breakout” searches lists for the UK.
Here are the UK graphs for “ghost hunting events” searches, starting with the 2004-2019 graph.
In the UK, those searches have been increasing since 2017. Americans should pay attention to this. In my experience, British ghost hunting enthusiasts are often one step ahead of American trends.
That’s what the graphs have indicated since I started tracking ghost hunting interest, around 2004: First, UK searches climb or even reach breakout status. Then I see those same kinds of topics/shows trend in the US.
Related Search Terms – Ghosts, Paranormal, Haunted
Finally, here are some comparisons among related searches. They’re of less value.
In the US, “haunted” searches spike at Halloween because people are looking for haunted houses and corn mazes, etc. Also, that term seems to perform better than “ghost hunting.”
Some “paranormal” searches may need to be discounted due to searches for movies like Paranormal Activity.
“Ghosts” may also include searches for “Ghost in the Shell,” and the trending PlayStation game, “Ghosts Call of Duty.”
The UK graphs show the same Halloween trends, but a sharper drop in interest for the simple search. But, “ghosts” significantly out-performs “paranormal.” That’s the reverse of US trends.
Ghost-Related Breakout Searches
In related, breakout search terms, the US and the UK were somewhat different. Despite that, I think they point to a visible trend towards personal ghost encounters, at ghost hunting events and tours, or as part of independent teams.
In the UK, these were the top breakout search surges:
- Ghost hunting equipment (and ghost hunting equipment in the UK)
- Ghost hunt (probably includes the fiction series of the same name)
- Ghost hunting events
- Ghost hunting with (probably includes the TV series)
In the US, search surges highlighted:
- Ghost hunting apps
- Ghost hunting shows
- Ghost hunting tools
- Ghost Hunter (Note: that was singular, not plural)
- Ghost Adventures
Yes, the US shows more interest in ghost hunting TV shows.
But, the prevalence of interest in ghost hunting apps, tools, and equipment also suggests a growing popularity in personal ghostly encounters.
What’s Ahead in 2019?
Ghost events, tours, and vigils can use these trends for greater success in 2019. Especially in the UK, including popular/expert ghost investigators can attract more guests to sites and events. (That’s not news. Every ghost hunting event is more appealing when it features recognized stars and popular researchers.)
Of course, ghost hunting TV stars – British and American – draw the largest interest.
Large-scale events may also benefit by including authors of paranormal fiction, if they’re well-versed in ghost hunting. (Michelle Belanger – who starred in Paranormal State – comes to mind, as she’s developed a successful career in paranormal fiction, too.)
And, in the US, shows may benefit from including segments explaining ghost hunting tools and techniques, with how-to advice.
Likewise, I’m seeing a growing interest in US events featuring stars of past ghost hunting shows, including Ghost Hunters (and Ghost Hunters International), Paranormal State, and Ghost Lab.
(Would ratings rise if they’re guest investigators on newer shows? From related, continuing “where are they now?” questions in my email, I think so.)
2019 may be a good year for ghost hunting. I won’t pretend that I see massive upticks in any single trend, at this time.
But, if you consider the graphs and breakout searches, I see potential for a new – perhaps younger and more analytical- audience.
They could spark a new wave of enthusiasm for ghost hunting shows and events, and haunted sites that are open to overnight stays and tours.