Google Publishes Annual Zeitgeist

Not open for further replies.


Yellow Belt
What do Sarah Palin, Facebook and Euro 2008 have in common?

They are all on the list of the top ten fastest rising queries on Google during 2008.

The search engine has published its year-end Zeitgeist, the tool which reveals what internet users are searching for.

The most searched term for Google users in the UK was Facebook while the BBC came second and its iPlayer service was the fastest rising query.

The list also reveals what global preoccupations are and this year the US election candidates and the Beijing Olympics figure high.

The things people around the globe have in common are a strong interest in socialising and politics, according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search at Google.

"Social networks compromised four out of the top ten global fastest-rising queries while the US election held everyone's interest around the globe," she wrote on Google's official blog.

Top UK search terms

1. Facebook
2. BBC
3. YouTube
4. eBay
5. games
6. news
7. Hotmail
8. Bebo
9. Yahoo
10. jobs

Sarah Palin
Beijing 2008
Facebook login
Heath Ledger
Nasza Klasa
Wer Kennt Wen
Euro 2008
Jonas Brothers

The economic crisis has made an impact on UK searchers with 'money saving expert' and 'hot uk deals' making the top ten finance-related searches.

Gordon Brown will be pleased to hear that he beat David Cameron into second place on the list of most popular politicians among UK searchers.

Barack Obama made it into third place with rival John McCain coming in seventh.

Foodies were interested in recipes for cupcakes, meatballs, lemon posset and pork belly, while the hottest tickets in the UK went to Oasis and Leonard Cohen (first and second respectively).



Yellow Belt
The data compiled in Google's Year End Zeitgeist for 2008 makes great reading but that's barely scratching the surface of what Google offers in terms of tools for crunching the huge amount of data that goes through the search engine giant's servers.

But Google also offers four separate tools that allow you to sift through the various types of data compiled by Google and allows you to create your own personal Zeitgeist list all round the year and with much more details.

The simplest - and most straight forward - is Hot trends which is a list of the top 100 fastest-rising search queries in the United States (which would certainly be roughly mirrored in other western and English-speaking countries) and is updated every few minutes. The service also allows you to search historically and compare several terms.

This experimental feature, called Google Trends, provides you with a comprehensive visual representation of daily unique visitors across a set period of time and across a wide range of regions worldwide. It shows you when a particular term has been searched, what are the corresponding articles, where it was searched the most and what languages were used. Users will notice that the graphs and data provided do not bear any value, they are relative to each other. See for example the Trends page for "Open Handset Alliance".

Google Trends for website is an extension of the above. It is used primarily to compare websites, basically providing insights into broad search patterns and although it is not perfect, it gives you a rough approximation. Check the Trends page for

The last and potentially more detailed tool is "Insights for search" which allows marketers and power users to query data using complex terms. You can search across categories, across time and across regions, from 2004 to today.

A search for the fastest rising search worldwide in the past 12 months shows a rather different pattern compared to Google's official Zeitgeist list, possibly because "Insights for search" offers a more accurate depiction, since Zeitgeist uses only 11 months of the year.

Sarah Palin is oddly not in the list of rising searches. Tuenti scores a 3050 percent increase while Nasza Klasa climbs a whopping 950 percent.

Finally, it is worth noting that you can compare the relative popularity of search terms and can be a real eye opener when used judiciously. See for example our test with five well known global fast food chains.

Not open for further replies.