A Review of 2014’s Most Popular Searches
As 2014 comes to a close, it’s natural for us to reflect on the year that’s passed as we prepare for the year ahead. There are many ways these reflections happen, whether it’s a compilation of news videos, a sampling of this year’s music, or even just a slideshow of notable events.
For Rocket Clicks, we look to searches for our yearly refresher. Search queries are often a reflection of ourselves, and they show us what information we’re actively seeking out rather than passively absorbing.
These are the top searches of the year according to the three major search engines.
Google’s Top Searches
As part of Google’s annual year in review process, they compile search data into a comprehensive look at the past year, combining multimedia and data to showcase the biggest trends in 2014. This includes major news events, like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, as well as entertainment trends like the ridiculously popular mobile game Flappy Bird.
While Google put an emphasis on categories, they also released two overall top lists, one for the US and one globally. The United States had a higher focus on societal issues, with the Ferguson protests and the conflict in Ukraine claiming spots. Global searchers, however, focused more on controversial contests, giving nods to Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision victory and the Sochi Olympics.
Bing’s Top Searches
Bing chose to release their results in a series of lists rather than a single top 10. Along with more generic categories like “most searched celebrities,” the search engine also curated lists with a more personal touch. Some of our favorites include “Stories that Moved Us,” “People We Lost,” and “News that Impacted Us.”
While these might not be the absolute top searches for Bing, these lists remind us that there’s more to life than celebrity gossip and quick word definitions. They tell us about our heroes, like Robin Williams and Casey Kasem. They tell us about our humanity, seen with the Ice Bucket Challenge or heartwarming family stories. They show what mattered to us in 2014.
Yahoo’s Top Searches
Yahoo released a direct list of their top 10 search topics this year and, unsurprisingly, they are largely focused on entertainment. Searchers were eager to keep up with their favorite celebrities, whether it was Ariana Grande’s latest hits, Jennifer Aniston’s pregnancy and wedding rumors, or Kim Kardashian’s attempt to ‘break the internet.’
Celebrity gossip wasn’t everything for Yahoo, though. Frozen and Minecraft both made appearances as their fan bases continue to explode. Disney’s instant classic ranked 7th while the indie video game came in 2nd.
But it was hard news that ultimately won out. Ebola topped Yahoo’s list as the most searched topic in 2014. With no shortage of coverage and a constant desire for more information, the outbreak of this virus caught our attention in virtually all aspects of our lives, and search was no different.
The Takeaway of 2014
If we’re looking to search trends to tell us what 2014 was about, our answer likely comes from where the lists overlap.
Celebrity appearances in the top 10 are not unexpected, but the death of Robin Williams topped lists more than any other famous name. His death was more than just celebrity gossip though. Instead, it provided an outlet for a wider conversation about depression, with depression-related searches increasing by as much as three times their normal volume, according to Google.
We’d expect people to search for big news stories, as well. Like Bing, we can segment them into feel-good stories, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, or world-changing events, like the conflict in Ukraine. Or, like Google, we can use them to get a look at different cultural perspectives, like seeing how US searchers and global searchers differ (or coincide) when looking for important information. Either way, we get one step closer to understanding why people are searching they way they are.
Ultimately, these lists are little more than representations of trends and events that people happen to be searching for, but we think they do a good job of indicating what we really care about, too.
Were there any results that surprised you? Anything that you’re surprised didn’t make the cut?