What were the most trending topics of 2020? Google tells you everything

By Alma Fabiani

Updated Dec 9, 2020 at 03:56 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

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.

The most trending general searches of 2020

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.

The most trending news searches of 2020

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.

The biggest losses of 2020

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.

The fifth, and probably most impactful loss of the year was the killing of George Floyd by US policemen, which led to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place all over the world.

The most searched people of 2020

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.

The most searched actors of 2020

1. Tom Hanks

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2. Joaquin Phoenix

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3. Amitabh Bachchan

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4. Ricky Gervais

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5. Jada Pinkett Smith

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The most searched athletes of 2020

1. Ryan Newman
2. Michael Jordan
3. Tyson Fury
4. Tom Brady
5. Mike Tyson

The most searched games of 2020

1. Among Us
2. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
3. Valorant
4. Genshin Impact
5. The Last of Us 2

The most searched lyrics of 2020

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

The most searched movies of 2020

1. Parasite
2. 1917
3. Black Panther
4. 365 Dni
5. Contagion

The most searched TV shows of 2020

1. Tiger King
2. Big Brother Brasil
3. Money Heist
4. Cobra Kai
5. The Umbrella Academy

The most searched recipes of 2020

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.

4. Pizza

5. Lahmacun, the delicious Turkish take on pizzas.

What else was trending in 2020?

‘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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