Google’s Top Trending Searches of 2018, and Other Year-in-Review Lists

December 19, 2018

It’s that time of the year again, for the most special of retrospections… year-in-review lists. Google’s top trending searches of 2018 show that natural disasters and celebrity deaths were atop our minds again this year, though nothing trended quite as much on our keyboards as the exciting World Cup.

Indeed, the World Cup ranked as the top trending search both in the US and on a global basis. Last year, the top trending search globally and in the US was Hurricane Irma, but this year’s Hurricane Florence wasn’t quite the global news story, landing second on the list in the US but out of the top 5 globally.

[Note: Top trending searches do not refer to searches with the most volume, but rather those with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in comparison to 2016.]

Following the World Cup and Hurricane Florence, the next 3 of the top 5 trending searches in the US each featured the death of a celebrity: rapper Mac Miller (#3); fashion designer Kate Spade (#4); and chef/travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain (#5).

Rounding out the top 10 trending searches in the US were:

  • Black Panther;
  • Mega Millions Results;
  • Stan Lee;
  • Demi Lovato; and
  • Election Results.

Six of the top 10 search trends from the US also appeared on the list of top trending search terms globally, up from 3 last year, but down from 7 the year prior.

In comparing the US and global lists, it’s interesting to see that Stephen Hawking’s death was among the top trending searches globally but not in the US, and that both Stan Lee’s death and the Black Panther movie were higher in the global than US rankings.

Also of note is that no consumer tech product figured among the top trending searches in the US or globally. Last year the iPhone 8 was the second-highest trending search globally, followed by the iPhone X in the 3rd position, but this year’s iPhone XR release couldn’t crack the list.

Meanwhile, in terms of news, the World Cup was the top trending search globally, followed by Hurricane Florence, the Mega Millions Result, the Royal wedding and the Election Results.

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

  • People – Global

1. Meghan Markle
2. Demi Lovato
3. Sylvester Stallone
4. Logan Paul
5. Khloé Kardashian

  • People – US

1. Demi Lovato
2. Meghan Markle
3. Brett Kavanaugh
4. Logan Paul
5. Khloé Kardashian

  • How to…? – US

1. How to vote
2. How to register to vote
3. How to play Mega Millions
4. How to buy Ripple
5. How to turn off automatic updates

  • What is…? – US

1. What is Bitcoin
2. What is racketeering
3. What is DACA
4. What is a government shutdown
5. What is Good Friday

  • TV Shows – US

1. Roseanne
2. Altered Carbon
3. The Haunting of Hill House
4. American Idol
5. Lost in Space

  • Fashion Brands – US

1. Fashion Nova
2. Louis Vitton
3. Versace
4. Givenchy
5. Gucci

  • Video Games – US

1. Fortnite
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
3. Fallout 76
4. Far Cry 5
5. God of War

  • Movies – Global

1. Black Panther
2. Deadpool 2
3. Venom
4. Avengers: Infinity War
5. Bohemian Rhapsody

Other Year-in-Review Lists

Of course, Google doesn’t have a monopoly on year-in-review lists. Below is a brief rundown of some of the highlights from other such lists, with a link to each.

  • International Women’s Day (March 8) was the most talked-about moment on Facebook for the second consecutive year. Other moments highlighted by Facebook included the March for Our Lives movement announcement and the Midterm Elections, while events such as the World Cup, Super Bowl and Royal Wedding also drove conversation. More details can be found here.
  • 125 million hashtags were shared every day this year, reports Twitter, with @BTW_twt (the account of the South Korean boy band) emerging as the most-tweeted account. Twitter’s review can be found here.
  • Amazon’s Super Bowl ad, “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” (which had been rated the top Super Bowl ad at the time by marketers) emerged as the top ad of the year on YouTube, according to the year-end YouTube ads leaderboard. One other Super Bowl spot – Groupon’s “Who Wouldn’t” made the top 10, in at #6.
  • Kylie Jenner’s “To Our Daughter” was the top trending YouTube video of 2018, while Te Bote Remix – Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, Ozuna “Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee” was the top trending music video. Eight of the top 10 trending videos were by Latin artists.
  • #fortnite was the fastest-growing hashtag community in 2018 on Instagram, and Heart Eyes was the most-used face filter in Instagram Stories. BTS was popular on Instagram too, as the top fandom community (#btsarmy). While this year’s review doesn’t mention the most Instagrammed city or location (Disneyland in the US last year), it does note that the happiest geotagged location (with the highest use of the smiley emoji in the caption) was Disneyland Tokyo. Instagram’s review can be found here.
  • Here we go again: BTS was the top “thing” on Tumblr this year, beating out Voltron: Legendary Defender, Marvel and Steven Universe. The full top 10 can be accessed here.
  • Drake had the most thumbed-up song on Pandora this year (“God’s Plan”), after being the artist with the most thumbed-up songs last year and the year before. Drake actually appeared 3 more times in the top 10 , and Cardi B also featured prominently, in the second spot overall and twice within the top 10. The list of the top 100 thumbed-up songs can be found here.
  • News/Talk was the top radio genre of the year overall with an even 10% share of audience, per Nielsen’s Tops of 2018: Radio, a fairly unsurprising results given the midterm elections. However, Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) led among the 18-34 (10.7% share of audience) and 25-54 (8.0% share of voice) age brackets, suggesting that it was the older adults that propelled News/Talk to the top.
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