Sandeep Goyal
Mar 25, 2021

Blog: Google's year in search report 2020 - the year we asked more 'why' then 'what'

In the first of a three-part series, the author looks at five very important search clusters with reference to marketing and consumers

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
Last year, when writing my book, Future Shock, I relied very heavily on Google Search data for the months of March, April, May and June, 2020 to capture the mood of mankind: anxieties, curiosities, questions, doubts, explanations … also the kind of subjects they wanted to know more about.
 
Feedback from Google searches helped me build a viable hypothesis around what the future would possibly hold.
 
Google just released its much awaited, much anticipated 'Year in Search Report'. It not only enlightens on what were the most searched topics globally, but also provides granular rankings country-wise. 
 
In a blog Simon Rogers, Data Editor, Google New Lab shared some interesting perspectives on the Report. 
 
“2020 was the year we asked “why?”
 
While “coronavirus” was the top trending search worldwide, we also asked questions like “why is it called covid-19?” and “why is mental health important?” more than ever before. We searched for ways to help each other, like looking at how to support essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19 or how to aid people affected by the wildfires in Australia or devastation in Beirut.
Even while so many of us stayed home, we looked for ways to connect, support and understand each other. We asked, “why are people clapping?” and “why is empathy important?” And for the first time, people all over the world searched for Black Lives Matter — increasing five-fold compared to the previous year.
 
Despite everything happening around us, we were as inquisitive as ever before, asking questions like “why do people dream?” and “why is Mars red?” We stayed optimistic and looked for creative ways to spend our time: This year searches for “sourdough bread recipe” hit an all-time high. ”
 
The reason I have quoted part of Simon Rogers’ blog ad verbatim is because his blog explains in a very concise and definitive manner what Google’s annual Search Report actually delivers. In specifics, the 2020 report is mainly about five very important search clusters with reference to marketing and consumers: 
 
- Individual matters: While COVID-19 became a globally shared problem in 2020, it also exposed a simple truth: there is no universal human experience. Search trends reveal consumers are placing more value on individual needs and perspectives, even if they're outside the norm.
 
- Higher purpose: As global crises test their values, people are looking for ways to do more for their communities and the environment – and they expect the same of brands. TrendWatching notes that while sustainability concerns aren't new, consumers have shifted from seeking eco-status to avoiding eco-shame.
 
- Whole selves: Lines are blurring in the roles people play, and consumers are looking to have more specific needs met at any one time. As innovations in one industry (on-demand taxis) can drive expectations in another (on-demand laundry), the burden is on brands, not consumers, to keep up.
 
- Sweet relief: Happiness never goes out of style, but amid the historic challenges of the pandemic, consumers especially welcome brands that spark joy in their lives and create a safe space for them to take a break.
 
- Future proofing: In a year that nobody could have predicted or planned for, there's been a new wave of interest in managing the things you can control, future-proofing our lives wherever possible and seeking more assurance from brands to ensure peace of mind.
 
It is really interesting to look at searches, both global and in India to see what was common, and what was not. 
 

Overall Search

No

Global

India

1

 Coronavirus

 Indian Premier League

2

 Election results

 Coronavirus

3

 Kobe Bryant

 US election results

4

 Zoom

 PM Kisan Yojana

5

 IPL

 Bihar election results

6

 India vs New Zealand

 Delhi election results

7

 Coronavirus update

Dil Bechara

8

 Coronavirus symptoms

 Joe Biden

9

 Joe Biden

 Leap day

10

 Google Classroom

 Arnab Goswami

India’s top search was for the IPL. Globally too, IPL clocked in at number 5. Inference: India and Indian diaspora contribute considerable weight and volume to the overall global Search numbers. This is also evident from India vs New Zealand making it to top 10 globally. Coronavirus, of course, remained top searched subject both worldwide, as well as in India.

News

No

Global

India

1

 Coronavirus

 Indian Premier League

2

 Election results

 Coronavirus

3

 Iran

 US Presidential Election

4

 Beirut

 Nirbhaya case

5

 Hantavirus

 Beirut explosion

6

 Stimulus checks

 Lockdown

7

 Unemployment

 China-India skirmishes

8

 Tesla stock

 Bushfires in Australia

9

 Bihar election result

 Locust swarm attack

10

 Black Lives Matter

 Ram Mandir

 
Bihar election results featuring in the global Top 10 is surprising. Again shows the weight India has in the global search volume. 
 
Also, ‘unemployment’, as a cause of concern comes across clearly in the global rankings. Anxieties do pop up in search. 
 
One would have expected Ram Mandir to come in higher in the India rankings … No. 10 seems almost like an also-ran. Especially with Bushfires in Australia and Beirut explosion higher in search numbers. 
 

TV/Web Series

No

Global

India

1

 Tiger King

 Money Heist

2

Big Brother Brasil

 Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

3

 Money Heist

 Bigg Boss 14

4

 Cobra Kai

 Mirzapur 2

5

 The Umbrella Academy

Paatal Lok

6

 Emily in Paris

 Sex Education

7

 Ozark

 Breathe: Into the Shadows

8

 The Queen's Gambit

 Dark

9

 Outer Banks

Bandish Bandits

10

 Locke & Key

 Special Ops

Money Heist seemed top of the pops both in India and globally. Searches in many ways are good surrogates for popularity of shows too. 

Movies

No

Global

India

1

 Parasite

Dil Bechara

2

1917

SooraraiPottru

3

 Black Panther

Tanhaji

4

 365 Dni

 Shakuntala Devi

5

 Contagion

 Gunjan Saxena

6

 Tenet

Laxmii

7

 Enola Holmes

Sadak 2

8

 Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Baaghi 3

9

 Mulan

 Extraction

10

Jojo Rabbit

GulaboSitabo

Bollywood and local language movies were far ahead of Hollywood content for Indians. Which is really not surprising. 

Personalities

No

Global

India

1

 Joe Biden

 Joe Biden

2

 Kim Jong Un

 Arnab Goswami

3

 Boris Johnson

 Kanika Kapoor

4

 Kamala Harris

 Kim Jong-un

5

 Tom Hanks

 Amitabh Bachchan

6

 Jacob Blake

 Rashid Khan

7

 Kanye West

 Rhea Chakraborty

8

 Ghislaine Maxwell

 Kamala Harris

9

 August Alsina

 Ankita Lokhande

10

 Ryan Newman

Kangana Ranaut

Joe Biden dominated search both globally, and in India. As they say, winner takes all: Donald Trump was nowhere in the Top 10 either globally or in India. Kangana Ranaut made the top 10 but Sonu Sood did not; nor did Sushant Singh Rajput. 

 

What is...

No

India

1

 What is coronavirus

2

 What is binod

3

 What is plasma therapy

4

 What is COVID-19

5

 What is CAA

6

 What is colon infection

7

 What is solar eclipse

8

 What is NRC

9

 What is hantavirus

10

 What is nepotism

On 15 July 2020, Abhyudaya Mohan and Gautami Kawale who run the channel named "Slayy Point" uploaded a video named Why Indian Comments Section is Garbage (BINOD) which started the Binod trend. Binod was a YouTube comment that became a viral meme in India on 7th August 2020.It originated from a comment by a user named Binod Tharu, who had not uploaded any videos and was only adding his first name in the comment section of YouTube videos. Binod memes started popping up, intending to troll him. The high rankings on search are a revelation. 

How To…

India

 

 How to make paneer

 

 How to increase immunity

 

 How to make dalgona coffee

 

 How to link PAN card with aadhaar card

 

 How to make sanitizer at home

 

 How to recharge fastag

 

 How to prevent coronavirus

 

 How to apply e-pass

 

 How to make jalebi

 

 How to make cake at home

 

Dalgona coffee was No. 1 on recipe search globally. In India too, a No. 3 ranking shows that India was in synch with the world. Also, the number of ‘how to …’ searches related to recipes shows how much of India tried playing home chef during the lockdown months. 

Sports Events

India

 

 Indian Premier League

 

 UEFA Champions League

 

 English Premier League

 

 French Open

 

 La Liga

 

 Serie A

 

 Australian Open

 

 NBA Basketball League

 

 UEFA Europa League

 

 UEFA Nations League

 

 
IPL remained at No. 1 with soccer taking a bulk of the other ranks. 
 

Near me

India

 

 Food shelters near me

 

 COVID test near me

 

 Crackers shop near me

 

 Liquor shops near me

 

 Night shelter near me

 

 Grocery stores near me

 

 Gym equipment near me

 

 Broadband connection near me

 

 Laptop shop near me

 

 Furniture store near me

 

 
The ‘Near me …’ searches for food shelters and night shelters show perhaps desire to donate during the pandemic by some, and also a real search for food and shelter by others who were actually needy. If data were made available on English versus language searches, this data point could be very enlightening. ‘Liquor shops near me …’ were much in demand too!
 
This is a three-part series on the Google Report. In the next two pieces we will look at India specific trends.
 
Dr. Sandeep Goyal is chairman, Mogaé Media. 
 
Source:
Campaign India