Tech & The Web

Google Releases ‘The Year in Search’ Report


It occurs to me that you can find plenty of ways to measure the passage of time. For Google, that involves examining ‘The Year in Search.’

What are the top people, places and things people searched for in 2022? It’s easy to find out, thanks to Google’s newly-released “Year in Search” report.

The report gives you the option to look at what trended during the year globally or by country. If you think for a minute what might have been the top trend of 2022 around the world, keywords like COVID or inflation might immediately come to mind. Perhaps, because of the ongoing war, Ukraine would be a good bet.

You’d be wrong.

A look at top global trends

It turns out the number one search term globally was, of all things, Wordle. Yes, that annoying little daily word puzzle ranked at the top of Google searches for the year. Hey, I play it…but I don’t know why I’d need to search for it. I like the mental challenge of the little game. (Today’s word took all six tries and I received the snarky, “Phew!” for my efforts.) But it’s a mix of vocabulary skills and logic without feeling anything close to math — although I suppose you could argue there’s a mathematical element involved in terms of deduction and odds based on most-used letters. I don’t make that kind of argument.

The second on the global list was “India vs England.” I had to do a little searching to determine that this related to the game of cricket.

“Ukraine,” the site of the aforementioned war, ranked third. “Queen Elizabeth,” who we lost in September after a reign of a nearly-unprecedented 70 years, ranked as the fourth-most trending search. “Ind vs SA,” which I’m assuming is another cricket search, came in fifth.

When it came to news, “Ukraine” took the top spot, while “Queen Elizabeth passing” came in second. “Election results,” “Powerball numbers” and “Monkeypox” rounded out the top five. 

Powerball did have it’s biggest jackpot ever this year, and someone in California purchased the $2.04 billion ticket. We can only hope they do good things with that money. 

Johnny Depp and Will Smith were the top two people searches around the world. The same two topped actor searches. 

For the category of passings, it took the passing of a monarch, Queen Elizabeth, to knock America’s sweetheart, Betty White, from the top slot. White actually died on Dec. 31, just days shy of her 100th birthday. But it was still clearly a big topic into the new year.

Closer to home, here’s what Google revealed about the U.S.

For the United States, the list of the top five searches likewise begins with “Wordle.” “Election results” comes in second, with obvious interest in the November midterms. “Betty White” topped “Queen Elizabeth” in third and fourth place, respectively. Comedian “Bob Saget,” who died in January, took the fifth slot. 

When you look at news searches, “Election results” took the first slot, followed by “Queen Elizabeth passing,” “Ukraine,” “Powerball numbers” and “Hurricane Ian.”

Johnny Depp and Will Smith took the top slots among people and actors once again. 

“Ukraine” dominated searches in the U.S. that began with the phrase “how to help.” Aside from the country, its refugees and its army, people also most-often searched for ways to help “abortion rights” and “Uvalde,” the scene of the mass school shooting in May that left 19 children and two adults dead. 

Under the “passings” category, Betty White, Queen Elizabeth and Bob Saget topped that list, followed by Anne Heche and Aaron Carter.

All this time after the COVID pandemic began, we still face shortages. As we waited for manufacturers and the supply chain to figure things out, the “Shortages” category tabulated top searches as “Diesel,” “Baby formula,” “Tampon,” “Adderall” and “Sriracha.” Well, we all have our priorities. 

Report also tracked U.S. top definition, pronunciation searches

The top definitions we most searched for in 2022 were “Rupee,” “Oligarch,” “Cacao,” “Homer” and “Recession.” 

The Rupee is the basic monetary unit of India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka. We heard of oligarchs, very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence, when some countries seized Russian oligarchs’ assets because of the war in Ukraine. Cacao is a tree or its seeds from which chocolate, among other things, is made. A homer, in baseball, refers to a home run. Hell, even I knew that.

A recession is a significant, widespread, and prolonged downturn in economic activity. That’s the easy definition. You can find a more complicated one at Investopedia.

When it came to “how to pronounce” words, the country “Qatar” took the top slot. People still argue over this one. The pronunciation that seems to be the most common sounds like “cutter,” not “ku-TAR,” the latter seems to be the one people want to use. 

“Kyiv,” the capital of Ukraine ranked second in a pronunciation search. We used to spell it Kiev, but that changed based on the preferred Ukraine spelling. We should pronounce it “keev.” Russians pronounce it “kee-EV.” Americans pronounce it the Russian way when they’re talking about a chicken dish. 

“Puzzle” ranked third. I don’t know why anyone would need to search for that one. Does anyone say, “POO-zul”? 

“Omicron,” the Greek letter that became associated with a new wave of COVID-19 cases ranked in fourth. There’s only one R, so you can’t validly pronounce it “OR-mih-cron,” although I’ve heard a few people try. 

“Encanto” came in fifth. That’s a Disney film that I somehow missed. 

From Google’s point of view, that’s the year that was 2022.

Which trending search terms most surprised you? Which words surprised you by not being on the lists?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.