A look back at what we Googled in 2012 through Google’s Zeitgeist

Each year’s end Google publishes their year in review, called Zeitgeist. By definition, a zeitgeist is “the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought which typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time”. Since 2001, Google’s Zeitgeist has summarized for us the most searched words and phrases and categorizes them into people, events, and trends that peaked searchers’ interest throughout the year. Google is the most used search engine,almost 70% of broadband internet searches are done on Google. In 2012,1.2 trillion worldwide searches in 146 different languageswere typed into that search bar on Google.The “trending” queries featured in the lists are the searches that had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011.

The Google Zeitgeist video is very moving and captures the events of the past year that were most searched in a very visual and captivating with the music. Viewers can even customize the list of top trends to their own country with 55 different county reviews to see. The categories for the world view of the most popular search trends are: top searches, images, athletes, events, people, feature films, tv shows, performing arts, consumer electrics, airlines, Google + hashtags, and videos. Overall the people and topics that pique the interest of Google’s searchers are worldwide media events. Popular movies, songs, and stars top the list as well. All the searches are in order with the #1 on the list representing the top searches for that category.

The overall top trending searches on Google worldwide were:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. Hurricane Sandy
  4. iPad 3
  5. Diablo 3
  6. Kate Middleton
  7. Olympics 2012
  8. Amanda Todd
  9. Michael Clarke Duncan
  10. BBB12

Trending images from the Zeitgeist include mostly popular stars of film, tv and singers, with a video game and the newest iPhone also mixed in the list:

  1. One Direction
  2. Selena Gomez
  3. iPhone 5
  4. Megan Fox
  5. Rihanna
  6. Justin Bieber
  7. Harry Styles
  8. Minecraft
  9. Nicki Minaj
  10. Katy Perry

Top trending athletes come from pro sports and the Olympics. Not all of the list makers were for happy achievements, the investigation into Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs and surrounding controversy got him on the list and Junior Seau made the list posthumously:

  1. Jeremy Lin
  2. Michael Phelps
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. McKaylaMaroney
  5. Junior Seau
  6. Sarah Burke
  7. Tom Daley
  8. Lance Armstrong
  9. Mario Balotelli
  10. Ryan Lochte

Google’s top searched events for 2012 are of course, headed up by Hurricane Sandy, since it was such a devastating storm that caused so much damage in New York and the northeast, but also includes many other news making and historical events:

  1. Hurricane Sandy
  2. Kate Middleton Pictures Released
  3. Olympics 2012
  4. SOPA Debate
  5. Costa Concordia crash
  6. Presidential Debate
  7. Stratosphere Jump
  8. Penn State Scandal
  9. Trayvon Martin shooting
  10. Pussy Riots

The top trending people on the Zeitgeist list is a pretty morbid group since four out of the 10 list makers passed away in 2012, Morgan Freeman likely made the list when false rumors circulated that he had passed away, and most people who learned about Joseph Kony wished he had passed away:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Kate Middleton
  3. Amanda Todd
  4. Michael Clarke Duncan
  5. One Direction
  6. Felix Baumgartner
  7. Jeremy Lin
  8. Morgan Freeman
  9. Joseph Kony
  10. Donna Summer

All but one of the top searched films on the list were U.S. based blockbusters. Interesting to see the comparison to top searched films, and top films at the box office does not match up. The feature films that made the top searched list for 2012:

  1. The Hunger Games
  2. Skyfall
  3. Prometheus
  4. The Avengers
  5. Magic Mike
  6. John Carter
  7. EkTha Tiger
  8. Paranormal Activity 4
  9. Taken 2
  10. Dark Shadows

In comparison, the top grossing box office movies for the year only include 3 of the top searched films:

  1. Marvel’s The Avengers
  2. The Dark Knight Rises
  3. The Hunger Games
  4. Skyfall
  5. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
  6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  7. The Amazing Spider-Man
  8. Brave
  9. Ted
  10. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

The top trending searched TV shows for 2012 unfortunately include an awful reality show called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Most of the top searched shows include reality shows, even though these shows may not be the most watched shows, they definitely spawned the most searches on Google:

  1. BBB12
  2. AvenidaBrasil
  3. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
  4. The Voice
  5. American Idol
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. Homeland
  8. Revenge
  9. Cheias de Charme
  10. Carrossel

Artists with the top searches include actors, singers and musicians and include a wide range from around the world:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Michael Clarke Duncan
  3. One Direction
  4. Donna Summer
  5. Lana Del Rey
  6. Carolina Dieckmann
  7. Dirk Bach
  8. Carly Rae Jepsen
  9. Michel Telo
  10. LMFAO

If you want to stay on top of the electronics scene, you should find out more about these top searched electronics:

  1. iPad 3
  2. Samsung Galaxy S3
  3. iPad Mini
  4. Nexus 7
  5. Galaxy Note 2
  6. Play Station
  7. iPad 4
  8. Microsoft Surface
  9. Kindle Fire
  10. Nokia Lumia 920

The airlines most searched for worldwide according to the Google Zeitgeist:

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. United Airlines
  3. American Airlines
  4. Delta Airlines
  5. Air France
  6. Lufthansa
  7. British Airways
  8. JetBlue
  9. Air Canada
  10. US Airways

The top trending Google Plus hashtags on Google’s social network, which celebrating its first year anniversary in 2012 were:

  1. #SOPA
  2. #Awesome
  3. #Sandy
  4. #IO12
  5. #Curiosity
  6. #Olympics
  7. #SXSW
  8. #Debate
  9. #BlastFromThePast
  10. #Eastwooding

The top searched videos for 2012 are probably the most diverse list of the bunch, with everything from music videos from the most popular dance of the year: Gangnam Style, to political, videos, instructional pieces, to comedy shorts and the presidential debate:

  1. Gangnam Style
  2. Somebody That I Used to Know by Walk off the Earth
  3. KONY 2012
  4. Call Me Maybe featuring Justin Bieber
  5. Obama vs. Romney Epic Rap Battles of History
  6. A Dramatic Suprise on a Quiet Square
  7. Why You Asking All Them Questions?
  8. Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling
  9. Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen
  10. Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Free Fall

When you switch to the United States view of the trending topics, there are some additional lists searched by Americans. It also features some slightly changed lists, and is interesting to see the differences and similarities between the world wide and U.S. based searches executed on Google in 2012.

The additional United States lists start with “How To” Searches:

  1. How to love
  2. How to rock
  3. How to vote
  4. How to install
  5. How to hate
  6. How to archer
  7. How to wobble
  8. How to calculate
  9. How to root
  10. How to tebow

Top “What Is” searches also showcase what else the U.S. was curious about this past year:

  1. What is SOPA
  2. What is Scientology
  3. What is KONY
  4. What is Yolo
  5. What is Instagram
  6. What is Pinterest
  7. What is Lent
  8. What is Obamacare
  9. What is iCloud
  10. What is Planking

Here is a list of the top cities searched in the United States on Google Maps:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. New York, NY
  6. Dallas, TX
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Boston, MA

The top searched Google local places in America in 2012 were:

  1. Hotel
  2. Restaurant
  3. Walmart
  4. Apartment
  5. Starbucks
  6. Target
  7. Parking
  8. Bank
  9. Camping
  10. Home Depot

The top international travel destinations searched by for Americans in 2012 were:

  1. Toronto
  2. Paris
  3. San Juan
  4. Cancun
  5. Vancouver
  6. Rome
  7. Montreal
  8. Tokyo
  9. St Thomas Island
  10. San Jose del Cabo

When you analyze all of the events, it is clear that events and images dominate the list and really propel searches on Google. What do you think you will see at the end this year for the 2013 Zeitgeist? One thing is for sure, you can look forward to the short video from Google that really sums up the year.

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