December is always a special time. As we prepare to turn the page on the year gone by, it offers a great vantage point, for individuals, communities, countries, to look back and reflect -- to make sense of what we felt and did, the decisions we took, the changes we ushered in. And to us at Google, there is no better reflection of this than the questions that were asked the most in the year.
But in a year unlike any other in living memory, a year that is, in many ways, a question in its own right, our queries become more than just cultural fascination. Each question we asked in 2020 was our attempt to steady ourselves as the ground beneath us shifted.
This year, when people turned to Search, we realised they were counting on us to provide something they urgently needed -- a sense of knowledge, of certainty, of trust, more than any other time in our history. It’s a responsibility we took very seriously, as we worked with health authorities, medical experts and governments around the world, to bring people information that was reliable and of the minute, to provide handrails of certainty as the known world bucked and shifted.
The top 10 overall list of trending search terms this year clearly reflected the global concern around the pandemic, with a natural surge in queries about Coronavirus. But interestingly, our fascination with cricket remained unchallenged as the Indian Premier League came out tops, trumping even the US elections. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM Kisan Scheme) that extended monetary support to farmers also featured among the top searches. While netizens took a significant interest in the Bihar and Delhi elections, there was also a clear interest in understanding the shifting world-scape with searches on US President-elect Joe Biden emerging as one of the top trending personalities, along with TV journalist Arnab Goswami. On the entertainment front, late actor Sushant Singh Rajput's final cinematic outing Dil Bechara was the only movie this year to make it to the top 10 trending list.
In a year where most large-budget anticipated films released directly on digital media, the year saw mixed interest across movie genres, including action, drama, comedy and romance. Dil Bechara which also featured in the overall list, snagged the top spot for movies, followed by the Tamil action-drama Soorarai Pottru. Bollywood biopics like Tanhaji, Shakuntala Devi and Gunjan Saxena also made it to the list. Interestingly, Indian movies dominated the list, where the only international Hollywood movie to make it here was Extraction.
Predictably, queries on web series surged during this year of lockdowns, with Money Heist topping this chart, followed by Indian entries like Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Bigg Boss 14, Mirzapur 2, and others.
US Presidential elections winner Joe Biden was the most searched personality this year, followed by TV journalist Arnab Goswami and Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor. Others on the list included Rhea Chakraborty, Ankita Lokhande, Kangana Ranaut and others.
Indian Premier League, Coronavirus, and the US Presidential Elections dominated the general news queries, and rounding up the list was a mix of both local and global news moments such as the nationwide lockdowns, the Beirut explosion, bushfires in Australia, and locust swarms.
‘How to’ searches billowed this year with queries that reflected the global shift to working from home and dealing with the pandemic: ‘How to make paneer?’ and ‘How to increase immunity?’ made the top of the list, followed by the all-important ‘How to make dalgona coffee’. ‘What is’ queries included the now-iconic ‘What is binod?’, followed by many virus-related queries such as ‘What is plasma therapy?’, and ‘What is hantavirus?’.
Following the unprecedented lockdown, local searches surged with 'Near me' queries. The top query was ‘Food shelters near me’ followed by ‘COVID test near me’. And pointing again to the trend of working from home, searches for ‘Broadband connection near me’ and ‘Laptop shop near me’ figured prominently this year.