2020 has been a long year, and as much as we all want to leave it behind and never think of it again, now that we’re finally seeing the end of it, it’s time for us to pause and step back in order to digest what we’ve been through. And what better way to do that than by taking a look at Google’s Year in Search summary?
If you’ve never heard of it before, every year, Google offers its users a chance to delve into the most searched topics and queries of the year by highlighting specific niches that received more attention than usual. From coronavirus and the US election results to Zoom and WAP’s lyrics, here are the most trending topics of 2020 and what they can teach us about the year.
This should come as no surprise; ‘coronavirus’ was the most searched word of the year. ‘Election results’ came just after, followed by ‘Kobe Bryant’ and ‘Zoom’. ‘IPL’, which is the Indian Premier League, a yearly professional cricket league that takes place in India, was fifth on the list.
Here again, ‘coronavirus’ took the first place, followed once more by ‘election results’. ‘Iran’ came in third place with a top query related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. News in ‘Beirut’ came fourth as an aftermath of the explosion that took place there in August 2020. ‘Hantavirus’, the coronavirus-like virus reported in China was the fifth most searched news of the year.
According to Google, basketball icon Kobe Bryant was the biggest loss of the year. Bryant died at 41 in a terrible helicopter crash at the end of January 2020, along with his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other souls.
In second place came the disappearance of Glee actress Naya Rivera, who first went missing after going on a boat trip with her son and was later found dead in Lake Piru.
Joe Biden was the most searched person of 2020, followed by Kim Jong-un after many speculated upon the North Korean leader’s death. It was later revealed that Jong-un was alive and well. Boris Johnson, Kamala Harris and Tom Hanks were the next most searched people of the year.
1. Ryan Newman
2. Michael Jordan
3. Tyson Fury
4. Tom Brady
5. Mike Tyson
1. Among Us
2. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
4. Genshin Impact
5. The Last of Us 2
1. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s iconic ‘WAP’
2. ‘Savage Love’ by Jawsh 685 featuring Jason Derulo, which was (unofficially) TikTok’s song of the year
3. ‘GOOBA’ by 6ix9ine
4. ‘Skechers’ by DripReport
5. ‘Dynamite’ by South Korean boyband BTS
3. Black Panther
4. 365 Dni
1. Tiger King
2. Big Brother Brasil
3. Money Heist
4. Cobra Kai
5. The Umbrella Academy
1. Dalgona coffee, the beverage made by whipping equal proportions of instant coffee powder, sugar, and hot water then added to cold milk that went viral on everyone’s Instagram feeds during lockdown.
2. Ekmek, a dessert made of a sponge cake base and covered with thick custard and whipped cream.
3. Sourdough bread, obviously.
5. Lahmacun, the delicious Turkish take on pizzas.
‘How to learn coding’ was the top-trending thing people searched to learn. ‘Python’ was the top-searched programming language.
‘How to be an ally’ was searched more than ‘how to be an influencer’. Searches for ‘how to be an influencer’ are consistently high every year, but this year was a little different. All over the world, we saw this shift in values as people turned their energies to being supportive, empathetic and taking a stand for voices unheard. For many people, allyship meant standing with and for marginalised communities, committing to personal and public changes, and engaging in concrete actions to disrupt systemic oppression.
This year, children in distance learning resulted in parents in distance teaching. ‘How to be a teacher’ was searched more than ever in 2020.
Didn’t get enough sleep this year? You weren’t alone: ‘insomnia’ was searched more in 2020 than ever before.
As small businesses were among those hardest hit by COVID-19, worldwide searches for ‘support small business’ doubled compared to 2019.
The world searched how to help more than ever. The top-trending ‘how to help’ queries were ‘how to help Australia fires’, ‘how to help Black Lives Matter’, ‘how to help during coronavirus’, and ‘how to help Beirut’. On top of that, for the first time ever, ‘Black Lives Matter’ was searched worldwide—increasing five-fold compared with 2019.
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When it comes to embarrassing queries, Google has definitely seen the worst of it. From the many people wondering about the meaning of life and the ones who forgot what five times eleven equals to, to the 12-year-olds all around the world searching for terms such as ‘big boobs’ or ‘naked woman’, it’s safe to say that we find it easier to ask complicated (read mortifying) questions to our search engine instead of our friends or family. And, as you probably guessed it by now, because you’re part of it too, sex-related queries are among the most Googled questions—a recent Google study even showed that last month, in the UK, there have been precisely 449,590 of those.
This inspired the experts at ShowersToYou to scrape the internet to find out what sort of questions are being asked exactly and by whom. Taking to Google Adwords, ShowersToYou found questions including ‘sex’, ‘condoms’, ‘lube’, ‘penis size’ and more. Interested in which regions are the most curious about sex, the company also looked into the regional breakdown of sex-related queries.
And guess which region had the highest number of searches that included the word ‘sex’? If you pointed the finger at London, you were right! The capital ranked number one with 135,000 monthly searches, followed by the South East with 68,500 monthly searches and the North West with 40,480 searches.
The types of questions being asked on Google included ‘how to have sex?’, ‘when’s the best time to have sex?’ and ‘Is it ok to have sex every day?’.
London was also revealed as the region where the term ‘condoms’ was searched the most, with 8,100 searches in a month. The North West followed behind with 3,090 searches. Most searched questions included ‘what condoms feel the best?’, ‘do condoms kill the feeling?’ and ‘which condoms are the safest?’.
As for the cities asking the most questions about condoms, Birmingham comes second after London with 1,600 monthly searches. In third and fourth place come Manchester and Bristol with 720 searches each.
The region looking for the word ‘lube’ the most after London, of course, which ranked first with 3,600 monthly searches, is the North West with 1,670 searches. The types of questions being asked include ‘what does lube do for women?’, ‘what is good lube?’ and ‘does lube have side effects?’.
As you’ve probably figured by now—at least, I sure hope you have—London always came first when it comes to sex-related searches, even the ones about ‘penis size’. London had 1,300 monthly searches while the North West had 360 and the West Midlands 310 searches.
City-wise, 170 people in Birmingham had penis size-related queries and 110 in Bristol.
While this data should be taken with a pinch of salt—even I can admit to questionable Google searches when bored—this recent research highlights the UK’s obsession with all things sex-related. And who could blame us? There’s nothing wrong with it, on the contrary, I almost feel reassured knowing how many people wonder about the most efficient condoms or whether lube can help their partner receive more pleasure.
While I can say for sure that many (like, a lot) of these Google searches are utterly ridiculous and should probably be asked to some sort of professional, it seems like most of the UK’s sex-related queries seem somewhat healthy. Let’s celebrate this small victory while we can—or before someone publishes a survey on the most searched questions of 2020…