Google zeitgeist: We google for Big Brother, for Canada, for love

Whitney Houston's death in February had a strong effect on the googling world. The singer's name took the top spot in Google's list of trending global searches. "Gangnam Style" was second.
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Google’s annual year-end zeitgeist report is out, and it is full of surprises.

For example, the program “BBB12” topped the list of global trending searches for television shows. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s “Big Brother Brasil 2012” and it is in Portuguese.


Another surprise: Despite the Psy frenzy that dominated the last quarter of the year, the phrase “Whitney Houston” beat out “Gangnam Style” as the top trending global search of 2012.

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Google says its year-end list focuses mostly on how search trends change year over year — what it calls “trending seraches” — rather than simply the most searched-for terms and phrases.

“The ‘trending’ queries are the searches that had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011,” the company writes in a blog post. And it is these trending queries that we will refer to in our own list of unexpected facts from Google’s Year-End Zeitgeist Report, 2012.

1. Whitney Houston reigns. Whitney Houston’s death in February had a strong effect on the googling world. The singer’s name took the top spot in Google’s list of trending global searches. “Gangnam Style” was second.

2. The world cared about Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm that blacked out large swaths of the East Coast was the most searched-for event of 2012 around the world. In second? “Kate Middleton Pictures Released.” Youch.

3. The rise of Brazil. The top two television shows searched for on Google were both produced in Brazil: “BBB12” (a.k.a. “Big Brother Brasil”) and the wildly popular soap opera “Avenida Brasil.”

4. America loves Canada? In the U.S. the most searched-for international travel destination of 2012 was Toronto, followed by Paris.

5. Justin Bieber is still on top. Psy may have taken away JB’s top spot on YouTube, but Bieber’s song “Boyfriend” received more Google searches in the U.S. than “Gangnam Style” or Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

6. The year of Lin. Jeremy Lin was the most searched-for athlete of 2012, beating Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning and Lance Armstrong. McKayla Maroney’s unimpressed face is probably the reason she took the No. 4 spot on the list.

7. Hey Honey Boo Boo, the world is watching. Our little pageant queen’s reality show was the third-most searched-for television show in the world.

8. Katniss takes on Avengers, wins. Both globally and in the United States, the most searched-for film of 2012 was “Hunger Games.” “The Avengers” came in third on the U.S. list, and fourth globally.

9. Temple Run? We read that Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion (although the actual number was closer to $700 million), but that didn’t stop the photo-sharing app from losing the top spot in most searched-for apps in the U.S. to one of our personal favorites — Temple Run!

10. You gotta love love. The most searched for how-to question in 10 countries around the world? How to love.

Now that’s nice.

Happy Holidays!


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