Zeitgeist 2010: How the world searched

In the search team we talk a lot about that people are always looking for new things with Google. In fact, about 20% of our queries are new each day. As it gets to be the end of the year, it’s a great time to look at what searches we all have in common. In the 2010 Google Zeitgeist, we’ve gathered the most popular and fastest rising queries from the year to capture the joys, sorrows and curiosity that many of us felt—capturing the spirit of 2010.

For this year’s Zeitgeist, we’ve added interactive HTML5 data visualizations for the top queries and events from around the world. You can easily compare the popularity of the Olympics vs. the World Cup, see the world’s reaction to Haitian earthquake or the Gulf Oil Spill through the eyes of search trends. With these new visualizations, you can interact with, explore and obsess over search data just the way we do.

So who made the lists this year? Whether you call it soccer, futbol, 足球 or सॉकर, we all rushed to TV screens and keyboards and created a whole new search category: World Cup-related queries. In the U.S., Paul the Octopus, those incessant vuvuzelas and Ghana’s team all made the top 10 list. 2010 was also a big year for the tech-obsessed, with the iPad capturing the attention of gadget junkies, reaching the top 10 fastest rising list in no fewer than 13 countries as well as the global fastest rising list.

It’s also fun to look at this and see where my own interests match up with those of other searchers. For instance, I’ve found myself to be quite a fan of Lady Gaga, and have spent time looking for fun Halloween costumes for my children. Another thing that struck me on a personal level was the rising health search for Asperger’s. Having small children, I know this is a topic of interest for a lot of parents.

The devastating earthquakes in China, Chile and Haiti as well as the floods in Pakistan and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico led to a huge spike in all things charitable. Through our search lens, we saw worldwide outreach to help those in need and the use of technology to expedite aid with the spread of text-to-donate.

Finally, for the first time, we’ve created a Zeitgeist Year in Review Video to capture the phenomena that shaped 2010.

We hope you enjoy this look back before we embark on 2011 and learn what the world will search for next.

Update 7:14 AM: We’ve removed the video to make a correction. It will be back soon.
Update 9:11 AM: The video is back—enjoy!

Posted by Johanna Wright