What was on your mind the most this past year? Even if you didn’t communicate it to the people in your life, you likely did to Google.

The search engine knows what we really care about, from geopolitics to celebrity deaths to Pokémon. Every day, Google churns though upwards of 8.5 billion searches. Google just released their top trending searches for 2022, globally and by country. They’re one way to capture the zeitgeist.

For Canada, the #1 overall trending search term for the year was Wordle. Ukraine was #2, and topped the list for news stories.

The “why?” questions that befuddled Canadians:

  1. Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?
  2. Why is Rogers down?
  3. Why did Will slap Chris?
  4. Why is Ukraine not in NATO?
  5. Why is there a formula shortage?
  6. Why is gas so expensive right now?
  7. Why are truckers protesting?
  8. Why is there a Tylenol shortage?
  9. Why is crypto going down?
  10. Why did Liz Truss resign?

The top 10 “how to?” Google searches in Canada fit into a few categories:

  • How to watch the World Cup? was #1, and How to pronounce Qatar? was #10
  • How to do a rapid COVID test? was #2, and How to get a vaccine QR code? was #4.
  • How to help Ukraine? was #3, and How to pronounce Kyiv? was #6.
  • #7-9 all had to do with games (I had to look these up to know what the heck they were): How to evolve Charcadet?, How to respec in Elden Ring?, and How to evolve Cosmog?
  • How to create an NFT? was #5, which also relates to #5 on the “what is?” list: What is an NFT?

Other popular Canadian searches, in no particular order: Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles, Jeffrey Dahmer, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, the U.S. midterm elections, Betty White, Bob Saget, Guy Lafleur, What is RSV?, What is an oligarch?, the TV series Euphoria, monkeypox and Lisa Laflamme.

Google Trends analyzes what people are searching for and how those searches change, over time and by location. For marketers, advertisers, journalists and researchers, the results can tell a compelling story. “This is probably the most important data set ever collected on the human psyche,” said Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.

The trends of the year are just a topline look at our collective curiosities. Dig deeper into the Google brain and you can learn all sorts of things about what really makes us tick.

People may not always reveal their deepest concerns, desires, fears, anxieties and needs to their friends and loved ones. But every day they confide in Google.

In a UK survey from earlier this year, about 40% of respondents said their searches reveal a side of them they don’t want to get around. They worry about sharing the thoughts they have with the people in their lives, and don’t want others to see their unfiltered search history.

What do people worry about? Keeping parts of their lives private is one thing. As the UK survey found, people also don’t want to be caught for their lack of knowledge.

It’s no wonder that searches of how to hide or delete browsing history are so popular. In another survey this year, a majority of people said they’d rather give up their phone for a year than have their search history published.

“You can’t really trust what people tell you in everyday life, or even what they tell surveys,” Stephens-Davidowitz said in an interview. “But people confess their secrets to Google.”

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based freelance writer, who helps clients’ products, services, ideas and organizations to come alive. Follow me on Twitter @StuartFoxmanconnect with me here on LinkedIn, or check me out at foxmancommunications.com. I would love to hear from you. More original posts coming regularly about communications, information, motivation, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, learning, etc.

December 7, 2022

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