Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, in the Google Blog on the search terms that captivated the world this year:
What were they? As it turns out, all around the world, we were excited for the weekend. Web celeb Rebecca Black was the #1 fastest rising query globally, as fans searched for information about the “Friday” singer. She wasn’t the only songstress to capture international attention this year: Adele made the fastest rising lists in over 15 countries spread across five continents, in addition to claiming a spot on our global list. Reality star Ryan Dunn, defendant Casey Anthony and tech luminary Steve Jobs also made our list, as people of interest took five of the top 10 spots.
When looking at the data, it is fascinating to see the cultural fads and trends that took over the globe, from cupcakes (making top food lists in over a dozen countries) to the Dukan diet and high-profile weddings, but Google was used for much more than staying up to date on the sisters Middleton and Kardashian. From local celebrities in Finland to Singaporeans looking for news on the revolutions in Egypt and Libya half a world away, people turned to Google to learn more about what was happening on the world stage. It wasn’t just the man-made moments that topped the charts this year, but also the natural disasters that literally shook the world, from Hurricane Irene in the U.S. to the earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan.
Terms related to the Japanese earthquake showed up on lists from almost half of the countries included in the 2011 Zeitgeist, including Japan, where ?? (earthquake) topped the country’s fastest rising list, and our global list, where ?? ??(TEPCO, owners of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant), became the first non-Latin term to ever make our global fastest-rising list. In addition to news about what had happened, people around the world also looked for ways to give: In the U.S., the top three searches related to charitable giving were about helping Japan.
I love search, and to me, it’s exciting to learn more about people in other countries by looking at what they search for—from the most searched for Swiss mountain peaks in Switzerland to soccer terms in Argentina and the stuff of Italian dreams. As the proud owner of a Miniature Schnauzer, I was pleased to see that dogs always beat cats on lists of popular pets, but was surprised to learn that in Russian the most searched for pet was pygmy giraffes (which don’t really exist but are very cute) and in the U.S., sugar gliders made the list.