Every year, Google Trends releases its Year In Search data, with the most searched for terms in the past year in different countries and for different categories.
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 dominated the year in search. One of the things I find fascinating is how it’s influenced our vocabulary. It’s also spawned some odd phenomena, like the great toilet paper shortage.
When it comes to pop culture, I already knew I was pretty out of the loop, but some of this year’s trends reinforced just how clueless I am.
So, let’s take a look at some of the year in search.
The top three searches overall were election, coronavirus, and Kobe Bryant. I’m surprised that Kobe made the #3 position. I guess the top people search list didn’t include deceased people, because the top 3 were Joe Biden, Kim Jong Un, and Kamala Harris. I wonder if Donald Trump will try to sue Google because he didn’t make it into the top 10.
The top 5 definition searches were WAP, entanglement, antebellum, pandemic, and asymptomatic. WAP I had no idea (it’s from a Cardi B song), entanglement I didn’t know the relevance (it’s to do with Jada Pinkett Smith), and antebellum I was only vaguely aware of because I’d heard that the band Lady Antebellum had changed their name.
“How to” search #7 was how to help someone having a panic attack. I’m glad people want to know.
“Where to buy” search #2 was toilet paper. Coming in ahead of Lysol, Clorox, and N95 masks was Ju-C Jelly candy at #6. I’ve never heard of it, but apparently, it’s a high priority.
“Why” search #1 was why were chainsaws invented. My “why” in response to that is why does anyone care? “Why” #7 was why is everyone buying toilet paper. I can answer that—because we are sheeple.
Toilet paper was also #6 in the “near me” search category, and “where is” search #6 was where is toilet paper made.
Top question #2: Where does vanilla flavouring come from? I can’t say that even makes my top 1000 questions, but that’s just me.
The top 5 how-to questions were all somehow corona-related, including making hand sanitizer, making bread, and cutting your own hair. How to cook eel came in at #6. Delivery search #1 was afternoon tea, and I’m not sure if that’s tea as in tea or tea as in supper. DIY search #8 was diamond painting, which it turns out isn’t what it literally sounds like.
Recipe search #1 is bread, while #4 is the KFC recipe and #9 is the IKEA meatballs recipe. Yum.
“Who” question #4 is “who did Zara cheat on Sam with”, which I’m guessing might go along with TV search #1, Love Island.
South Africa has some interesting top questions:
- #5: What is 5G? – Is this for conspiracy theory reasons?
- #6: Where does vanilla flavouring come from? – If this is a popular search in two different countries, I’m guessing there’s something I’m out of the loop on. Or people just really like vanilla flavouring.
- #7: Why were cornflakes invented? – I vaguely recall, perhaps from last year’s top search, that there’s some weird supposed sexual connection people are making to cornflakes. Or maybe my memory’s rubbish and I’m just making that up.
- #9: Why were chainsaws invented? – Again, multiple countries, so I’m guessing it’s a thing I just don’t know about.
The top 5 news searches were coronavirus (#1), election results, Iran, Beirut, and hantavirus. Why is anyone talking about the hantavirus?
Zoom was the #4 search term overall. They (and their shareholders) must be thanking their lucky stars for corona.
Cutting your own hair was searched more in 2020 than it’s ever been before. That’s the one thing I was ahead of the crowd on. The mullet was searched twice as often as the buzz cut. I’m not sure if that’s the mullet making a resurgence or the buzz cut just being self-explanatory.
Recipe search #1 is Dalgona coffee, which I hadn’t heard of, but apparently it’s a Korean whipped coffee beverage.
In India, the #3 “near me” was cracker shop and #4 was liquor shop. It took quite a while for me to clue in that a cracker shop would sell firecrackers rather than crackers you would eat. Indians also want to know what is a colon infection (#6) and nepotism (#10).
In Singapore, the #1 mental health search was peppermint tea for mental health.
So, that’s the Year in Search 2020! Were any of these things surprising to you, and were you more or less clueless than I am?