Google Year in Search 2020: from coronavirus symptoms to Joe Exotic and how to make bread - this year’s top trends explained
The search engine’s annual round-up of internet trends and the most sought after keywords offers an in-depth look at how humanity has reacted to the events of the year
Google has released its ‘Year in Search’ results for 2020, showcasing what the world has been searching for in the previous 12 months.
As such, there’s no prizes for guessing which queries have topped the charts around the world, but after a tumultuous year for the planet, some pleasing surprises have made their way through.
Here is everything you need to know.
What have we been searching for in the UK?
In the UK, the top three overall searches of 2020 were ‘coronavirus’, ‘US election’ and ‘Caroline Flack’, after the Love Island presenter’s tragic death in February.
But Google’s yearly report gets more granular than that, and we’re able to see what people were searching for in specific topics.
But surprisingly, coronavirus only comes in at number three on the list of the year’s top questions overall.
In 2020, we were asking ‘Who won the election?’ (after a nail biting US vote which saw Joe Biden clinch the White House among unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud from the now outgoing President Trump) and ‘Where does vanilla flavouring come from?’ long before we were concerned with ‘How many cases of coronavirus in the UK?’
That vanilla query might seem a strange one, and like so many trends of 2020, seems to have been sparked by booming social media platform TikTok, where users claimed artificial vanilla flavouring comes from the anal glands of beavers.
How did we keep ourselves entertained?
In the worlds of entertainment, Phillip Schofield, Carol Basking and Joe Exotic make up the top three of the most searched celebrities for 2020.
The latter two were the stars of Netflix’s true-crime documentary series Tiger King, which enjoyed worldwide popularity due to its perfectly timed released just as the world was going into lockdown, while Schofield’s inclusion could be a reflection of the presenter’s ability to keep us all entertained throughout the year on This Morning.
In music, the most searched lyrics were those of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s controversial empowerment anthem ‘WAP’, while Sam Mendes’ World War One epic 1917 was the most searched film, beating out Parasite and The Gentlemen (interestingly, none of these films released in 2020) to take the top spot.
Despite being off screen this year, Love Island was still the most searched about TV show of 2020 (perhaps people were asking why it wasn’t on), ahead of ITV’s ‘Dennis Nilsen’ dramatisation, Des.
Normal People – iPlayer’s most watched show of 2020 – only came in at number four.
What else were we up to?
The Premier League topped the list of most searched sports queries, while ‘Joe Wicks kids workout’ was the nation’s most sought after fitness search term.
‘When will lockdown end?’ was the most searched for When… question, while ‘Who won the election?’ and ‘What is VE Day?’ topped their respective categories.
How did the globe search?
Google's analysis also reveals what the world at large was up to. The most searched term overall was – unsurprisingly – ‘coronavirus’.
In video games, online deceive-em-up Among Us came out on top, followed by It’s A Knockout style pratformer Fall Guys and multiplayer shooter, Valorant.
The most searched for people across the globe were President elect Joe Biden, Kim Jong Un and our very own Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while Tom Hanks very own coronavirus scare cemented him as the top searched for actor of the year early on.
For more insights into how the world searched in 2020, head to Google’s Year in Search page