Author Archives: Simon Rogers

In 2021, the world searched for healing

This year, searches for "how to heal" reached an all time high. Across the world, we were looking for ways to come back stronger.

We reflected on difficult times that continued to test our resolve. We thought about those we lost, asking “how to honor someone.” We looked inward, searching for “how to take care of your mental health” and asking the big questions, like “how to be yourself” and “what is my purpose?”

We looked outward, too – thinking about how we could help rebuild and strengthen our communities. We searched for how to make sustainable choices, how to help Afghan refugees, how to stop Asian hate and how to support people in need across the world – from communities in India battling the pandemic to communities in Texas facing severe weather.

And we looked to move forward, searching, “how to make a come back.”

As the world asked “how to be hopeful,” 2021 brought us hope. This was the year that search interest for “covid vaccine” officially surpassed interest in “covid testing.” Searches soared for “covid vaccine near me” – just as people eagerly asked when they could visit their family or eat in a restaurant again.

Like last year, people continued to search for ways to stay connected and entertained at home (“Squid Game” took the top spot this year for searches for TV shows to watch). But we also started to navigate a return to life outside the house, wondering how we should go about ditching the sweatpants (the top trending search for “how to style…” was “how to style straight leg jeans”).

As this year of comebacks comes to a close, we’re taking a closer look at trending topics across searches, news, people, “how to’s,” entertainment, trends and more from across almost 70 countries. Search can help you find a world of information – and what people search for can be a window into the world. So join us in taking a closer look at this year’s trending lists at

Catching up on 15 years of Google Trends

When we initially launched an experimental version of Trends 15 years ago, we pointed out ways people could use  data to look at things like ice cream flavor popularity  and singing competition contestants, or how much people searched for certain politicians. Since then, Google Trends has become an important resource for journalists, researchers, scholars, brands — and anyone else who wants to use it. 

I’ve been working on Google Trends for almost five years as a Data Editor. I wanted to catch up with Yossi Matias, VP of Engineering and Research, who led the team that launched Trends. I took some time to talk about those early days with Yossi, as well as where we see Trends heading.

Trends Homepage 2006 vs 2021

How it started; how it's going.

Simon: Where did the idea for Google Trends come from? 

Yossi:Google Trends was initially an experimental tool in Google Labs designed to help us understand trends on Google Search. For the first time, we were able to leverage this aggregated data to better understand what people were interested in and what they were looking for when they came to Search. We realized how useful it would be to launch Google Trends as a full product providing insights into what people are searching for in the aggregate and make it available to everyone. 

This was one of the first projects for the newly established Google site in Israel, and our team worked closely with other teams across Google. Our focus was on large scale data analytics, so it was exciting to build something that shared our insights with the world.

The Google Trends team in Tel Aviv; they're gathered against a wall with the word "Google" on it, smiling and looking into the camera.

The Trends team in Tel Aviv  in August 2008.

Simon: Do you remember what launching it was like? What were the reactions like? 

Yossi: Since the full public launch of Google Trends was  one of the first led by the Israel team — it felt like it really set a tone for what we would go on to do. I just remember it was exciting to be a part of this huge opportunity for learning and sharing about what people were interested in at large and small scales. I also remember being excited to see how Google Trends could be used to identify trends early — before they were huge, or how it could be used to predict what could happen as a result of something like a health outbreak or economic event. 

Simon: How have you seen this tool change? Were there any updates that stick out to you?

Yossi:As Google Search has evolved, so has Google Trends, starting with daily trends and the ability to organize data into categories. We’ve also added more languages,  better visualizations and expanded trends to include new ways of searching, such as Image Search and videos. 

When Search started adapting to the semantic meaning of queries with our Knowledge Graph, Google Trends also brought entities to the tool so that Trends better reflects what people are interested in, regardless of the exact wording they used when searching. And as Search became fresher and more real-time, so did Trends — gaining insights on what’s trending “right now,” from sporting events to natural disasters.  Google Trends often reflect real-world phenomena in real-time and it’s become a basis for “nowcasting,” or predicting the present, for trends in economics, health and social sciences. Since its inception, we’ve seen Google Trends inform numerous papers across many research disciplines.

Yossi: One thing I’m interested to hear from you is how you think journalists and researchers can best use Google Trends?

Simon:The great thing about Trends is it’s the only tool out there that can give you both a real-time sense of what people actually care about as well as a view of how those trends have shifted over time. We’ve seen journalists use Trends to generate stories and to see what people want to know about the news to really compliment existing coverage.

Yossi: I have to imagine working on Trends in 2020 was an unusual experience…

Simon: It was an unforgettable year— but also one where Trends really felt like it helped us understand  the complex emotions and events we all went through. Health searches showed exactly what people were worried about as a result of the pandemic. And we also experienced the most-searched U.S. election in Google history, plus huge demonstrations around racial equity, which also showed up in Search. There was anxiety and insecurity around unemployment — which was searched at an all-time high. At the same time, we saw these really human searches around how to make things or how to help others.

Yossi: Why do you still like working on Trends? What does it tell us about the world?

Simon: It’s such a unique tool. It’s the world’s largest free-to-use dataset of its kind; it’s incredibly honest and reveals what people as a group really care about. There’s nothing like it.

15 tips for getting the most out of Google Trends

To celebrate Google Trends’s 15th anniversary, we took a look at what questions about it have…well, trended. “How to use Google Trends?” and “how does Google Trends work?” were among the most-searched. So we decided to answer them with these 15 tips to help you get the most out of the tool and uncover interesting insights. 

1. Data by date: Google Trends can tell you what people were searching for at any date from 2004 to a few minutes ago. It’s also based on two datasets: historic (2004-three days ago) and real-time (past week). Real-time is more granular, right down to minute-by-minute.

2. Trending versus top-searched:Trending (or rising) searches are those that are accelerating the fastest, while top-searched, or “most-searched,” are the most-searched queries in a specific time frame. Trending searches are useful for seeing how things have changed.

3. Choose topics when you can:When you start on Google Trends, you get the option to either search for a “term” or “topic.” We recommend choosing “topic” when possible. Topics are language agnostic and account for spelling variations (and mistakes!), as well as multiple names for the same thing.

Image showing Google Trends data for "television" as a term and "television" as a topic.
4. Compare big places to small: How do you compare searches for the same thing in two different locations? Well, Google Trends normalizes Search data to make comparisons between terms easier. Search results are normalized to the time and location of a query. This means that Search results by geography are comparable, so you can see that the metro area most  searching for brunch this year is a tie between Charleston, South Carolina and Miami, Florida. Whereas the top metro area searching for breakfast is Panama City, Florida.

5. Today’s trends: For a number of countries around the world, you can see what is trending each day. It’s also where you will get a sense of the volume of searches.

6. Find out what’s trending right now: Real-time search trends are great for seeing what’s happening in the moment and in the context of news coverage. 

Animated GIF showing Google Trends real-time searches for different countries.

7. Always compare:If you want to understand the scale of a trend, use relative comparisons to gauge popularity. Weather is one of my favorite topicsto use as a point of reference. It is one of the largest and most consistently searched for topics everyday.

Image showing a Google Trends chart comparing searches for the topics: "weather," "music," "film," "news," and "sports."

8. See how different places search for the same thing: This is one of my favorite hidden features of Trends. You can compare up to five topics or search terms, and for each one, you can specify the geography. For example, you can see how searches for COVID-19 varied in different countries around the world over the past 12 months.

Image showing a Google Trends chart comparing searches for "coronavirus" in different countries.
9. Trends can help us visualize common interests: Google Trends is truly a human-centric dataset. We search for what we are interested in. Even if those interests may feel obscure at times, you’re likely not alone in wanting more information on a given topic. Google Trends helps us visualize and explore our dreams, dogs and cats and even how to fix a toilet

10. Trends are not polls: Google Trends is not a tool for creating scientific polls and shouldn’t be confused with polling data. It merely reflects the search interest in particular topics during a specified duration of time. 

11. …But they can tell you a lot:The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) uses Trends to track GDP each week, in between its quarterly releases, to get a more granular view of what’s happening to the world’s economy.

12. Autocomplete is not the same as Trends data:Autocomplete tries to predict what you're typing so you can get to what you're looking for faster. But because it's a predictive feature, we don't want to surprise people with predictions. So even though you can search for whatever you want, we have policies for what can appear in Autocomplete. Trends, on the other hand, is a tool where you can look up search interest in any query. Because you're typing it in and asking to see the results, we'll show you available Trends data for almost any query.

13. See what’s Trending near you:Another interesting feature on Trends in the U.S. is the ability to see what’s been trending in a metro area without even putting in a search term. You can see what was trending over the past month, or even year. For example, here’s what wastrending in San Francisco over the past month.

Image showing Google Trends' trending near you feature for the San Francisco-Oakland area. The top search topics are: 1. Olympic Games; 2. Olympics Games Tokyo 2020; 3. Summer Olympic Games; 4. Fireworks; 5. Fire.

14. Download your data: Just click on the download button next to each chart. For a bigger dataset, check out this new daily trending searches dataset from the Google BigQuery team.

15. And remember: Have fun with Google Trends!Around 15% of queries on Google Search each day have never been seen before. It’s a great way to peek behind the curtain at the constantly changing interests of people around the world.

Take a look at these pandemic pastimes

I've never spent as much time at home as I have in the last year. Of course, I'm not the only one. Over the past year or so of quarantine, I've found myself searching for new things to do. I searched for “cheesemaking” when my kids asked me to play sous chef, and for “bird watching” and “how to create container gardens” when we started spending more time outside.  Like so many people, I looked up recipes for baking bread. My quarantine search history feels like a bingo card for hobbies. 

This made me wonder what other people were searching for during the pandemic — and  how have these interests changed over time? 

To get an idea, we worked with design studio Polygraph (creators of The Pudding) to create a new interactive tool that allows us to dig deeper into what captivated our year of social distancing. With this new calendar view, you can see what hobbies and interests were trending on any specific day a year ago in the U.S. Each day reflects the topic that saw the greatest growth in search queries compared to one year prior. You can also learn more about a specific topic by visiting the Google Trends website.
Google Trends

Hobbies in 2020 were compared to the search volume in 2019 to calculate percent growth. The hobby with the largest growth was featured on the respective day. Play with the tool here.

Explore more by searching for specific hobbies in the calendar or click to select different dates and view what hobby was keeping us busy at that time last year. (It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one searching for “needlepoint” on April 8 last year.) You can even select a specific hobby and connect with helpful information on the Search results page.

View on Search

Google Trends provides a unique perspective of what we’re currently interested in and curious about. If I learned anything from using this new tool, it’s that we all have more in common than we might think.

Source: Search

2020: The year the world asked “why?”

2020 was the year we asked "why?"

While “coronavirus” was the top trending search worldwide, we also asked questions like “why is it called covid-19?” and “why is mental health important?” more than ever before. We searched for ways to help each other, like looking at how to support essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19 or how to aid people affected by the wildfires in Australia or devastation in Beirut.

Even while so many of us stayed home, we looked for ways to connect, support and understand each other. We asked, “why are people clapping?” and “why is empathy important?” And for the first time, people all over the world searched for Black Lives Matter — increasing five-fold compared to the previous year.

Despite everything happening around us, we were as inquisitive as ever before, asking questions like “why do people dream?” and “why is Mars red?” We stayed optimistic and looked for creative ways to spend our time: This year searches for “sourdough bread recipe” hit an all-time high. 

Now as we come to the close of such a tumultuous year, we’re taking a closer look at trending topics across searches, news, people, “how to’s,” virtual activities and more from across almost 70 countries. Just as Search can help you explore and discover a world of information, there are many ways to explore the year through the lens of Google Search. Take a closer look with year’s trending lists at

Looking ahead to 2021, there's one thing we know for sure: We'll keep searching.

2020: The new normals of daily life

This year, if you found yourselves asking  "what day is it?" you weren’t alone. That question was searched for on Google more than ever before in 2020 as so many of us adjusted to new routines while living through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sheltering in place meant we had to get creative with our beauty and grooming habits. Average daily views of YouTube videos with “haircut” and “home” or “how to” in the title increased by over 220 percent since mid-March, and that was just the beginning. These are the 2020 top trending beauty “how to’s…” on Google Search.

  1. How to cut men's hair at home 

  2. How to plop hair

  3. How to color your hair at home

  4. How to wash your hands

  5. How to style curtain bangs

  6. How to cut women's hair

  7. How to do knotless braids

  8. How to fade hair

  9. How to trim your own hair

  10. How to dermaplane

Found yourself kneading some kitchen inspiration this year? If you weren’t a master chef or baker before 2020, you may be now. Searches for “recipes”  hit an all-time high worldwide. In the U.S., comfort food and sweet treats consume this year’s top trending recipes. (Fun fact: On YouTube, global average daily views of videos related to sourdough have increased over 260 percent since Mar. 15.) 

  1. Sourdough bread

  2. Whipped coffee

  3. Disney churro

  4. Dole whip

  5. DoubleTree cookie

  6. Ikea meatball

  7. Chaffle

  8. Hamburger bun

  9. Egg salad sandwich

  10. Healthy banana bread

Our commute time turned to couch time, as many of us transitioned from the office to working from home. People looked for solutions to questions  like “how to stay motivated” and “how to stay focused.” Here are the top trending work from home-related questions this year. 

  1. How to stay motivated working from home

  2. How to stay focused working from home

  3. How to start working from home

  4. How to be productive working from home

  5. How to get a job working from home

  6. How to stay sane working from home

  7. How to keep toddler busy while working from home

  8. How to make working from home fun

  9. How to survive working from home

  10. How to manage employees working from home

When we weren’t finding new recipes or trimming our own bangs, we explored virtual ways to stay entertained and connected. Whether you celebrated a major milestone or found new ways to keep your kids engaged at home, this list of “virtual…” searches is extremely 2020. 

  1. Virtual field trips

  2. Virtual museum tours

  3. Virtual Kentucky Derby

  4. Virtual learning

  5. Virtual NBA fans

  6. Virtual EDC rave

  7. Virtual classroom

  8. Virtual tours

  9. Virtual marriage

  10. Virtual baby shower

And speaking of virtual, the dating scene looked a little different this year. From digital-only to socially distanced date ideas, we still looked for ways to find a connection. 

  1. Quarantine date ideas

  2. Virtual date ideas

  3. Long distance date ideas

  4. Free date ideas

  5. Social distancing date ideas

  6. First date ideas during covid

  7. Facetime date ideas

  8. Outdoor date ideas

  9. At home date ideas

  10. Best date ideas

For more lifestyle trends that made 2020 feel, well, so 2020, explore this year’s other trending lists at And you can learn more about what we watched and learned during the pandemic with this year’s YouTube Trends

Sweet streams: 2020’s top trending TV shows and movies

2020 was the year of searching for ways to stay entertained at home, so it’s no surprise that binge-watching reached an all time high worldwide this year. While sheltering in place, many of us have invited characters from all over the world (and sometimes out of it) to join us in our living rooms. It’s also kept us connected: For many families, including my own, movies and TV shows made us feel together even when we were apart. Let’s relive some of 2020’s favorite titles while we explore this year’s trending movies and TV shows.

This year’s top trending TV shows feature both a king and a queen, as well as a karate master and an infamous nurse. More of the top trending TV shows below. 

  1. Tiger King

  2. Cobra Kai

  3. Ozark

  4. The Umbrella Academy

  5. The Queen's Gambit

  6. Little Fires Everywhere

  7. Outer Banks

  8. Ratched

  9. All American

  10. The Last Dance

The title that takes home the trophy for the number one trending movie, both globally and in the United States, also won the 2020 award for Best Picture. And we saw searches for a  beloved superhero film from 2018 spike again after the movie’s iconic star passed away. Here are the rest of 2020’s top trending movies in the U.S. 

  1. Parasite

  2. 1917

  3. Black Panther

  4. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

  5. Little Women

  6. Just Mercy

  7. Bad Boys 3

  8. Sonic the Hedgehog

  9. Contagion

  10. Fantasy Island

Your 2020 might not have been action-packed, but plenty of this year’s films were: From the big screen to our television screens, here are 2020’s trending action movies. 

  1. 1917

  2. Black Panther

  3. Birds of Prey

  4. Bad Boys 3

  5. Sonic the Hedgehog

  6. Mulan

  7. The Old Guard

  8. Artemis Fowl

  9. Bloodshot

  10. Extraction

This year, we all needed a good laugh.  The top trending comedies this year will surely have you smiling. 

  1. Hubie Halloween

  2. Like a Boss

  3. Onward

  4. Trolls World Tour

  5. Borat 2

  6. Spies in Disguise

  7. The Wrong Missy

  8. Dolittle

  9. King of Staten Island 

  10. Downhill

And when audiences weren’t looking on the lighter side, there were plenty of dramatic films for more serious streaming. Here are the top trending movies in the drama category.  

  1. Little Women

  2. Just Mercy

  3. Tenet

  4. 365 Days

  5. Jojo Rabbit

  6. The Photograph

  7. Enola Holmes

  8. The Gentlemen

  9. The Hunt

  10. After We Collided

Spooky movie favorites from years past as well as brand new titles filled the list of 2020’s top trending thrillers. 

  1. Contagion

  2. Fantasy Island

  3. Underwater

  4. The Grudge

  5. The Invisible Man

  6. The Turning

  7. The Devil all the Time

  8. Antebellum

  9. Gretel & Hansel

  10. Knock Knock

Now that 2020 is coming to an end, maybe these lists will give you some inspiration for a few last streaming sessions.