Google Trends is a tool that’s available year-round, providing marketers and bloggers with invaluable keyword research. Even better, at the end of each year, they release a yearly round-up of the most searched things, people, and other categories that have dominated both globally and by country.
If you know what people are searching for, you know how to tap into their decision-making process at every stage of the digital consumer journey. As THE go-to search engine (Bing who?), marketers would be foolish to ignore Google’s data wisdom. Plus, it’s quite a bit of fun to see the questions people are asking, especially the daft ones…
Google Trends covers every sector, from news, to notable deaths, to sports events. For this blog, we’ve picked the search categories we think apply best to marketers and thought about how they demonstrate the most interesting shifts and constancies in both the UK and the world’s search queries. Our comparison will span the decade, from 2011 to 2021.
Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a Google Trends extravaganza!
Movies & TV Google Trends
In 2011, the UK was desperately searching for Breaking Dawn and Final Destination 5. Do you remember where you were when the fourth instalment of the Twilight saga was released? A truly memorable cultural moment.
There’s no top 5 list for the movies most searched worldwide in 2011, but that may be due to the absolute chokehold that Rebecca Black had the entertainment category in.
Fast-forward to 2021, and the UK’s most searched movies included Dune and Black Widow, with Marvel’s domination mirrored worldwide as Eternals tops the global movie category.
One main difference arises across the decade, and that’s the emergence of the TV shows category. Globally, Squid Game and Bridgerton ruled the game in 2021, absolutely annihilating Eternals. This suggests that the biggest change to consumer interests in the decade is the shift from film to TV streaming.
Overall, the movie industry took a huge hit due to COVID-19 restrictions, so it’s no surprise that performance was lower than it might otherwise have been. However, there is still an undeniable pattern of staying at home watching TV streaming services, rather than checking out where and when the latest cinema showings are.
Music & Entertainment Google Trends
While in the 2011 UK run-down, there is no specific music category, entertainment is dominated by musicians. The top 5 is as follows: Adele, the aforementioned Rebecca Black, the late Amy Winehouse and then-rising star, Ed Sheeran.
Globally, Miss Black took the crown, closely followed by searches for the lyrics to Jessie J’s Price Tag and Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass. I guess people we’re just really keen to make sure they sang along exactly right…
By 2021, Google had split their music categories into separate lyrics and songs searches. In the UK, a retro tune from 2009 was on our minds, as a February viral TikTok had everyone questioning the real lyrics to Lady Gaga’s modern classic, Poker Face. This was enough to send it to number 1 most searched for the whole year.
Another two retro entries were Sweet Caroline at number 3, which we’re pretty sure is due to the footy, and Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. This was probably because the band announced they’d dropped it from their tour setlist due to its racist overtones and sexualisation of slavery.
Repping the modern-day music crowd were Adele, with lyrics to Easy On Me, and Olivia Rodrigo’s good 4 u, both of which took top 5 places. Globally, the songs category was topped by Olivia Rodrigo’s driver’s license, while Lil Nas X claimed two runner up spots, proving the newly established supremacy of TikTok over the music industry.
In conclusion, Adele retains her appeal ten years on, and search priorities have moved away from musicians themselves, and towards their lyrics. Our listening priorities and search interests show a clear nostalgia for times gone by, which is no surprise given the chaos of now.
This, combined with the top songs globally, stinks of TikTok’s influence. Rebecca Black hailed the birth of the viral music scene in 2011. Now, its success is cemented by TikTok-famous trending songs like drivers license and everything Lil Nas X produces. Thanks, Rebecca, you’re a misunderstood genius x
Food & Drink Google Trends
For food and drink, Google only reports on global trends.
In 2011, US fast-food dominated, with Wendys, Little Caesers and Chick-Fil-A, taking 1st, 3rd and 4th respectively. 2nd spot is taken by Just Eat, perhaps a hint of things to come in the takeaway food app market, now dominated by Uber and Deliveroo in the UK. Only one recipe website makes it into the top 5, Allrecipes.
By 2021, viral recipes and global home cooking had entirely wiped out the fast-food trend. ‘Birria tacos’, ‘Nasai Goreng’ and ‘feta pasta’ take the top three spots in the food category, illustrating an interest in global fusion foods as well as searches inspired by social media viral cooking trends. An outlier, ‘charcuterie board’ takes 4th place, perhaps an indication of the world’s eagerness to get back to sharing and socialising following the lockdowns of 2020.
Ultimately, we see a shift to home cooking, influenced by lockdown, the boom in viral cooking content thanks to TikTok and Instagram, a desire to share, and perhaps a slight lean into healthier choices and global fusion food choices.
UK Special Mentions
2021 was the year the UK asked big questions about social justice:
Got its priorities straight… ish…
And asked when the most ‘important’ things would be happening…
While Google Trends is a lot of fun, it’s also vital for keeping up with the most popular search terms day by day. For dmt, it keeps us at the forefront of keyword optimisation, allowing us to maximise results for our clients.