Google’s Top Trending Searches of 2016, and Other Year-in-Review Lists

December 21, 2016

The 2016 US presidential election may have generated strong interest around the world, but neither it nor its participants cracked the top 5 trending searches in the US, says Google in its year in review. Instead, January’s $1.5 billion Powerball was the top trending search in the US, also cracking 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 2015. This may explain why the election didn’t crack the top 5 in the US, as it likely was already generating significant search volume in 2015.]

Following Powerball, the year’s top 10 trending search topics in the US were:

  • – Prince;
  • – Hurricane Matthew;
  • – Pokémon Go;
  • –;
  • – Olympics;
  • – David Bowie;
  • – Trump;
  • – Election; and
  • – Hillary Clinton.

Seven of the top 10 search trends from the US also appeared on the list of top trending search terms globally. The only three top trending topics from the US that were not on the global list were Hurricane Matthew (#3), Election (#9) and Hillary Clinton (#10), replaced by iPhone 7 (#2 on the global list), Deadpool (#7) and Suicide Squad (#10).

In terms of global news, the US election and the Olympics were the top trending topics globally, followed by Brexit, the Orlando shooting, and the Zika virus.

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

  • – Consumer Tech – Global

1. iPhone 7
2. Freedome 251
3. iPhone SE
4. iPhone 6S (last year’s top consumer tech trending search)
5. Google Pixel

  • – People – Global

1. Donald Trump
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Michael Phelps
4. Melania Trump
5. Simone Biles

  • – How to…? – US

1. How to play Pokémon Go?
2. How to register to vote?
3. How to play Powerball?
4. How to make slime?
5. How to move to Canada?

  • – People – US

1. Donald Trump
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Michael Phelps
4. Bernie Sanders
5. Steven Avery

  • – TV Shows – US

1. Stranger Things
2. Making a Murderer
3. Fuller House
4. Westworld
5. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Other Year-in-Review Lists

Of course, Google was only one of several properties to take a look at this past year. Below is a brief rundown of some of the highlights from other such lists, with a link to each.

  • – The US Presidential Election was the most discussed topic on Facebook for the second consecutive year, this time followed by Brazilian Politics, Pokémon Go, Black Lives Matter and Rodrigo Duterte & Philippine Presidential Election. Meanwhile, the top global Live video was Candace Payne’s “Chewbacca Mom.”. The full slists from Facebook can be accessed here.
  • – Rio2016 was the most popular global hashtag on Twitter, followed by Election2016, PokémonGo, Euro2016 and Oscars, with Brexit in 6th and Trump in the 8th spot, according to the platform’s review of its top 10 global trends. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s tweet the day after the election reminding young women of their value was the third most retweeted of the year. Twitter’s review can be found here.
  • – Adele Carpool Karaoke was the top trending YouTube video of 2016, while the Official Mobile Strike Super Bowl 50 TV Commercial was the top trending ad on YouTube for the year. More here.
  • – With almost 2 million shares, John Lewis’ #BusterTheBoxer was the most shared video ad of the year, per Unruly’s latest annual list.
  • – The top search on Yahoo was 2016 Election, followed by Donald Trump and Roblox, with Gwen Stefani and the 2016 Olympics rounding out the top 5. Election Day was the top news tory on Yahoo News, followed by Prince’s Death. The full lists are available here.
  • – The iPhone 7 was the top searched tech trend on bing, topping Self-Driving Teslas, per the bing Trends 2016 report.
  • – Feminism was the most discussed social issue on Tumblr, followed by Black Lives Matter and Policy brutality, according to Tumblr’s Year in Review, which can be accessed here.
  • – Drake was the artist with the most songs (14) on Pandora’s 100 most thumbed up songs of 2016, topping Future (8) and Rihanna (5).
  • – Sports – specifically football – dominated the list of TV shows again in 2016, occupying 9 of the top 10 single telecasts of the year, led by Super Bowl 50, per Nielsen. “NBC Sunday Night Football” dropped to the third regularly scheduled primetime TV program, however, behind “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS”. “Hasta Que Te Conoci” was the leading regularly scheduled Spanish-language program, while “Better Call Saul” was the top time-shifted program by percentage change in viewers.
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