The digital world is an integral part of global society, and the online traffic to psychedelic resources can tell us a lot about the state of the industry. Our last psychedelic search trends review and analysis for the psychedelic industry was back in June, so it is about time for an update.
We looked at search trend data from the past 90 days and compared it to the previous analysis. Since the current quarter will be coming to an end this week, this will cover all trends and search traffic for the third quarter.
Q3 Psychedelic Search Traffic
Search traffic for psychedelics has been down significantly this quarter. It has seen a steep dropoff starting at the beginning of July.
Google Trends shows traffic for search terms based on an index where 100 is the high for the time period being looked at. The all-time high for the term “Psychedelic” was the last week in June. This can be attributed to The Psychedelic Science Conference that took place in Denver a week before the spike in traffic.
In two weeks, the index (for the past five years) jumped from 58 to 100. However, the increase in search traffic was short-lived. Just a month later, it was down to 53— nearly halving traffic to psychedelic sources.
So, what can account for the plummeting numbers? When looking at patterns over the past five years, late summer is a historically low point for the index. It generally sees spikes in early summer and then drops off in the months of August and September, which is exactly what we are seeing here.
It isn’t just psychedelic searches that see lower numbers in the late summer months. As the weather cools down, so does search traffic. This is generally a slow period for many websites. This is the time when people are transitioning back into the swing of work and school life.
Search traffic can fluctuate for a number of reasons. Big events, such as the Psychedelic Science Conference and the release of the How To Change Your Mind series on Netflix, cause an increase in searches for psychedelic topics. Changes in season and cultural events can also drastically affect it.
Psychedelic Geographical Search Trends
The five US states with the highest amount of psychedelic searches in the past 90 days were Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming (in that order).
This is mostly on par with long-term search trends. Oregon, Colorado, and Vermont have had the heaviest traffic for psychedelics over the past five years. Alaska and Wyoming, however, are making a new appearance on the top five list. Washington and Utah have previously held those spots.
In recent years, Wyoming has become part of what is called “the suicide belt.” This area of the US, which has a higher-than-average suicide rate, consists of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. The need for new solutions for this issue may contribute to growing search traffic for psychedelics in Wyoming. Utah has also historically been in the top 5 list.
Surprisingly, California has not made an appearance on the list. The state is currently one signature away from legalizing psychedelics. Since Oregon and Colorado have had so much search traffic for psychedelics, it would be reasonable to assume that the same would happen with another state that is on the precipice of legalization. However, that has not been the case.
Massachusetts and Kentucky have also been making headlines recently. Kentucky is currently considering allocating $42 million towards ibogain research. Massachusetts has a legalization initiative in the works. The psychedelic industry has been busy discussing the implications of these two proposals. However, it is important to remember that people involved in the industry make up a small percentage of search traffic.
It is easy to get caught up in the psychedelic bubble, which is why it is important to look at greater trends. Looking at data sets from Google Trends and surveys, such as the recent UC Berkeley psychedelic survey, gives a better picture of what the greater public thinks (and searches) about psychedelics.
Trending Psychedelic Topics & Queries
Psychedelic mushrooms are the hottest topic, according to the data. In fact, most of the top and rising search terms related to psychedelics had to do with mushrooms. The top related search terms for the past three months included: Psychedelic drug and several variations of the keywords psychedelic mushroom.
The top four related queries also had to do with psychedelic mushrooms. This is on par with trends over the past five years. Psychedelic mushrooms continue to be the most popular psychedelic topic to search for in the US.
For topics with significant search growth during this time period, there are a few that stand out. Two of the top rising related topics were Ann Arbor and Colorado River Toad. They both saw some growth in searches this quarter.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, got a lot of attention this year for its annual psychedelic festival— Entheofest. There was a lot of interest leading up to the event, and it garnered a lot of press.
The Colorado River Toad is also known by the name Sonoran Desert Toad or Bufo. It is well-known within the psychedelic space for the psychoactive effects of smoking a substance that it secretes. Of all the psychedelic compounds available, it is interesting that this particular one is getting so much interest from the public. There is still minimal research on the clinical benefits of the active compound found in Bufo, though it seems to be piquing public interest.
Both MAPS and Atai Life Sciences reached breakout status for rising topics in related queries. “Breakout” status for a topic means it has recently grown more than 5000%.
It is no surprise that MAPS has seen a significant jump in searches. Two weeks ago, they released their Phase III data for treating PTSD with MDMA-assisted therapy, and it has gotten a ton of press. Even the New York Times wrote about it.
What do Search Trends and Traffic Tell us About the Psychedelic Industry?
The data shows us that search traffic for psychedelic sources is down significantly this quarter. However, that isn’t necessarily something to be worried about. Growth in search traffic is never linear. It is normal for it to fluctuate over time. Though, It should be noted that July saw the biggest drop off in search traffic that psychedelics have ever seen.
Psychedelic media sites across the board have seen a huge drop in traffic, backlinks, and domain authority these past few months. August is a historically low month, but is this indicative of a bigger problem?
At this time, it is impossible to say what this means for the industry long-term. Search traffic has remained relatively steady since the drop off at the beginning of July. Since the holiday season is coming up, the numbers may remain low.
E-commerce generally does extremely well during the holiday season due to consumer habits. However, research into psychedelics may go the other way while people focus on slowing down and spending time with family. On the other hand, the holidays can be difficult for many people and may increase the number of people looking for solutions to ease their suffering. Only time will tell. We will be back at the end of next quarter with updated information on current psychedelic search trends and traffic, so stay tuned.