Google’s Top Search Trends of 2013, and Other Year-in-Review Lists

December 18, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Search Engine Optimization | Social Media

Google-Top-Trending-Searches-in-2013-Dec2013The death earlier this month of Nelson Mandela made the widely revered former South African President the top trending search term of the year, says Google in its 2013 Zeitgeist report, marking the second consecutive year that the passing of an iconic (albeit in different respects) figure was the top trending search topic. As with last year, the top search trends were a mix of tragedies, technology, and yes, a video sensation that spawned countless imitations.

The untimely deaths of actors Paul Walker (#2) and Cory Monteith (#4) featured prominently among the top search trends globally (with associated Tweets among Twitter’s most retweeted of the year), while the Boston Marathon (#6) also was in the top 10. But a bright spot did make the list, in the form of the royal baby, which came in at number 7.

While the iPad was the only tech topic to make the list last year, this year’s top 10 list included more devices. The iPhone 5s showed up in the 3rd position, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 occupied the 8th spot and the PlayStation 4 the 9th.

As for that YouTube sensation (everyone remembers last year’s entrant, Gangnam Style), this year it was Harlem Shake, in at the number 5 position.

Seven of the top 10 search trends from around the world also appeared on the list of top trending search terms in the US, with Paul Walker the top trending US search, followed by the Boston Marathon Bombing, Nelson Mandela and Cory Monteith. The remaining 3 in the US that were not on the global list were: Government Shutdown (#6); James Gandolfini (#7); and Adrian Peterson (#10).

The Boston Marathon was the top trending event around the world and in the US, with the Government Shutdown and Syria Conflict also featuring prominently in both lists.

Below, a brief selection of top-5 lists from around the world and in the US (trending search unless otherwise noted).

  • Consumer Electronics – The World

1. iPhone 5s
2. Samsung Galaxy S4
3. PlayStation 4
4. Xbox One
5. Nexus 5

  • Movies – The World

1. Man of Steel
2. Iron Man 3
3. World War Z
4. Django Unchained
5. Despicable Me 2

  • Videos – The World

1. Ylvis – The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)
2. Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)
3. How Animals Eat Their Food | MisterEpicMann
4. Baby&Me / The New Evian Film
5. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)

  • People – US (note: most searched, not trending)

1. Miley Cyrus
2. Drake
3. Kim Kardashian
4. Justin Bieber
5. Beyonce

  • Annual Events – US

1. Black Friday
2. Cyber Monday
3. Daytona 500
4. Chinese New Year
5. Tour de France

Yahoo’s Year in Review: Top Searches, Obsessions, and Tumblr Blogs

Apparently, searchers on Yahoo are obsessed with celebrities. For the second consecutive year, 6 celebrities were among the 10 biggest searches on Yahoo, with its list very different from the top search trends on Google.

Yahoo’s top 10 searches were:

1. Miley Cyrus
2. Kim Kardashian
3. Kate Upton
4. Minecraft
5. Selena Gomez
6. Obamacare
7. Amanda Bynes
8. Jodi Arias
9. iPhone 5
10. Justin Bieber

Yahoo also released a list of “2013 Obsessions” which it describes as “concepts that not only had big search averages, but accelerated fast up the search charts.” In other words, perhaps a better approximation of Google’s trending topics. This year’s “obsessions” reveal the impact of pop culture – and that TV shows still have a strong place in the conversation. This year’s list:

1. “Duck Dynasty”
2. “Breaking Bad” series finale
3. “The Walking Dead” and the zombie acopalypse
4. “Fifty Shades of Grey” casting
5. New 100 dollar bill
6. Twerking
7. Snapchat
8. Rainbow Loom
9. Selfie
10. Bitstrips

And just for a little fun, here are the top 5 most viral blogs on Tumblr for the year:

1. Reasons My Son Is Crying
2. This Charming Charlie
3. Hot-Dog Legs
4. Things Fitting Perfectly Into Other Things
5. The Worst Room Top Viral Videos and Trending Memes

What videos and memes did searchers get caught up with on Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” topped the list of top trending videos – Unruly also recently declared it to be the most viewed video ad of all time, according to its charts. No other brand ads made the list.

In terms of the top trending memes, surprisingly “Miley Twerking on Things” did not make the top 10, coming in 12th on’s list. “Unflattering Beyonce” sat atop the list, followed by “Bill Clinton Photobomb” and “Go Home Superdome.”

Facebook: Most Talked About Topics

Moving past traditional search engines to social platforms, Facebook’s “most talked about topics” list includes some people and events from the lists above, but varies in some parts, suggesting that what people search for online and what they talk about on Facebook are somewhat different. The list looks at how many Facebook posts this year mentioned a specific topic, ranking them based on the overall volume of mentions. This year’s top 10 were:

1. Pope Francis
2. Election
3. Royal Baby
4. Typhoon
5. Margaret Thatcher
6. Harlem Shake
7. Miley Cyrus
8. Boston Marathon
9. Tour de France
10. Nelson Mandela

Half of that list made it into the most talked about topics in the US – the shared topics were: Boston Marathon (#3 in the US); Harlem Shake (#5); Pope Francis (#6); Royal Baby (#7); and Nelson Mandela (#9). Topics talked about relatively more in the US than around the rest of the world, most of them unsurprisingly, were: Super Bowl (#1); Government Shutdown (#2); Syria Crisis (#4); George Zimmerman (#7); and Presidential Inauguration (#10).

Instagram: Top Geotagged Locations of the Year

Finally, a couple of notes from Instagram, the fastest-growing top smartphone application of the year, per Nielsen.

According to Instagram, the 10 most geotagged locations this year were:

1. Siam Paragon Shopping Mall in Bangkok
2. Times Square
3. Disneyland California
4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
5. Disney World Florida
6. Staples Center, Los Angeles
7. Central Park, New York
8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
9. Bangkok International Airport
10. The Highline, New York

Given that list, it’s not surprising that the most Instagrammed cities of the year were New York, Bangkok and Los Angeles.

Not enough pop culture references? Well, there’s this: the most popular picture on Instagram this year belonged to Justin Bieber posing with “uncle Will” (Will Smith).

Oh, and the top hashtag on Instagram: #love.

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