Google has unveiled its annual “Year in Search” review, which offers insight into the most frequently searched terms worldwide. Each year, the report captures our most pressing questions, greatest fears and the events that arrested our attention, but the 2020 edition is perhaps a little more predictable than most.
It will be a surprise to no one that this year’s rankings are dominated by the pandemic, either directly or by proxy. “Coronavirus” tops the overall rankings, while “coronavirus update” and “coronavirus symptoms” sit in seventh and eighth respectively.
Widespread national lockdowns also drove a massive spike in search related to remote working and home schooling, as highlighted by “Zoom” in fourth position and “Google Classroom” at number ten.
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The influence of the pandemic is also seen in Google’s analysis of trending topics (i.e. terms with the greatest percentage search increase year-on-year).
With many people attempting to make productive use of lockdown or quarantine, “how to learn to code” recorded a significant rise this year, with Python courses the most in-demand of any. School closures, meanwhile, saw “how to be a teacher” Googled more than ever this year, but all-time high search volumes for “pranks on parents” suggests the kids had other plans in mind.
Search trends in 2020
“The most human trait is to want to know why,” says the narrator of Google’s Year in Search video (above). “And in a year that tested everyone around the world, ‘why’ was searched more than ever.”
This year, we had questions about coronavirus, the US elections, Black Lives Matter, Australian bushfires, the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and the untimely deaths of Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman and Maradona.
But we also had questions about more frivolous, less bleak topics. The lyrics for Cardi B’s provocative hit WAP were (quite understandably) the most searched of any song, while the continued obsession with Joe Exotic (a.k.a Tiger King) saw the incarcerated ex-zoo keeper nab the top spot in the TV category.
The rise in search for “sourdough recipe” and “how to make bread”, meanwhile, suggests the world won’t be short of artisanal bakers once the pandemic eventually subsides.
Google Year in Search - Top 10
- Election results
- Kobe Bryant
- India vs New Zealand
- Coronavirus update
- Coronavirus symptoms
- Joe Biden
- Google Classroom
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.