Every year for the past 15 years Google releases the Year in Search, functioning as a digital scrapbook to put a bow on the last 12 months. Google uses trillions of queries to compile this data. It shows us the good and the bad of the last year, and what events have impacted us as a society.
The year-in-search data is a mix of queries from Google search, Google News, and YouTube. Although Google typically keeps its numbers a secret, Year In Search presents the total number of searches across all of those properties. “It’s not really something Google has released before,” says Simon Rogers from Google News Lab
While Google’s Year In Search website offers several options for parsing the data, the most interesting may be the interactive timeline. Mousing over each large circle on the timeline reveals the topic it represents, how many searches it amassed during the year, and when that topic peaked.
TheCharlie Hebdo and Paris terror attacks were by far the most frequently searched events over the past 12 months. Google saw nearly 900 million searches on the two attacks, more than twice the queries made for the second most frequently searched topic, the Oscars.
“The event happened at 18 minutes past 9 pm Paris time, and within a couple of minutes, people started searching, In Paris, people started asking questions about a minute later. In Berlin, it was a few minutes after that. London after that… There wasn’t actually a story in the mainstream media for about an hour.” – Simon Rogers, Google News Lab
Google also compiled a video overlaid with Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY’s acceptance speech highlighting some of the year’s top search trends. Check it out below!