Search engines such as Google that provide us with the most searched terms are the all-important navigator of the internet. With one search of the term you’re looking for, within seconds you are exposed to that term being used millions, sometimes even billions and trillions, of times throughout articles that could be relevant to what you are searching for.
When an event takes the world by storm, they don’t turn on their radios or their TV anymore, they go to the internet, where information is dispensed at a rapid rate that cannot be matched by any other medium. Through an outlet like Google, anyone with an internet connection can type in the event that’s transpiring and join hundreds of millions of other people doing the exact same thing.
We did the research into these phenomenons that momentarily grip the world and lead to an incredible amount of searches that end up dominating the year’s viral searches and trends, and came away with some interesting facts we previously had no idea of.
Let the World Cup be a message to Americans that the sporting world does not revolve around the United States.
Out of the ten most searched athletes last year, only three were American (Ray Rice was third, Michael Phelps was ninth, and Richard Sherman was tenth). Not only were seven of the most searched athletes from a different country, but five played prominent roles in the 2014 World Cup.
Leading the way among all athletes was James Rodriguez, the 20-year-old Colombian who used the World Cup to vault his name into international stardom, followed by Luis Suarez, a Uruguayan who became infamous for biting an Italian defender, at number four, Neymar da Silva Santos, host country Brazil’s most famous player, at number five, Mario Gotze, a German who scored the game-winning goal in the World Cup Final, at number six, and Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magana, a Mexican goalie who earned recognition for his incredible saves, at number eight.
Rodriguez actually earned more searches throughout the year than established names such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The two other athletes were Michael Schumacher, a German F1 racer who spent most of last year in a coma, and Jules Bianchi, a French F1 driver who suffered a horrendous accident.
As for the World Cup itself, in a surprising turn of events, the World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany wasn’t even the highest-trending match. That distinction belonged to the match between host country Brazil and Germany, an affair that resulted in a shocking and staggering 7-1 defeat for Brazil. Out of then ten highest-trending matches, Brazil was involved in five of the matches, while powerhouse Germany trended in four matches and Argentina trended in two.
The United States should feel proud of itself. While most of the countries that were trending were primarily soccer-dominant nations, such as the Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium and Portugal, the Americans’ matchup with Germany, a 1-0 defeat that showed the Americans were worthy of competing with the best, was the tenth highest-trending match.
Croatia was the only anomaly among the highest-trending matches, but that was due to their involvement in the World Cup opener against Brazil.
Remember that little disease that terrorized the United States for about a month or two? Oh, wait, that wasn’t ebola. That was the media telling you to be afraid of ebola because of how contagious it was and how easily it could spread and wipe out all human existence.
In reality, a grand total of one American died due to ebola, and that was due to it being untreated past the point of no return. A few other cases cropped up, but were treated, even though we were skeptical of the city of Atlanta’s capability of keeping their patients in a controlled environment.
Despite ebola failing to have an actual impact on America, it was the third-most searched term last year worldwide and in the United States. Its peak was reached in the week of October 12th to the 18th, as stories began to emerge of JFK airport in New York City screening people for ebola.
When media hysteria sets in, you can make the people believe whatever you want. Such as ebola actually being a threat to the United States.
Worldwide, however, ebola was the most searched term in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the remaining three countries that are actually being devastated by this problem.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Not a day went by in March when we could turn the TV on or go online and not see a BREAKING NEW DEVELOPMENT in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It was so popular, in fact, that it was the fourth-most searched term worldwide, as well as in the United States, a nation completely unaffected by the disappearance of a plane in the South Pacific.
Which is why we now have inane clips like this:
By state, Malaysia Airlines was most searched by California (Pacific Ocean connection), New York (Diverse culture and hub of world reports), Hawaii (Pacific Ocean), Nevada, Washington and New Jersey. By city, the term was most searched by San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego and San Jose. That’s four out of five cities from California, with the lone exclusion being NYC.
Were the people of California convinced they could find Malaysia Airlines? Who knows.
As for worldwide interest, the countries that searched ‘Malaysia Airlines’ were all fairly obvious and included nations in the area, as well as those that sent rescue teams and those that claimed they saw it from their country. The only outlier is the United Arab Emirates, which attracted some attention when it claimed Flight 370 on flammable lithium batteries.
Worldwide and in the United States, no term was searched more than ‘Robin Williams’. The beloved comedian shocked fans and followers when his suicide was announced to a stunned and saddened world that could not fathom the thought of the star they grew up on doing that to himself.
His passing allowed us insight to his international influence. Naturally we were aware that he would be heavily influential in the United States and Canada (one and two in countries that searched his name most), but little did we know of the tremendous effect he had elsewhere, such as Australia, the small island nation of Malta, New Zealand, and Jamaica.
What this allowed us was to gain the perspective of those nations in their outlook to Robin Williams. What we found out was that Robin had a strong infatuation with Australia and New Zealand, where he toured. He gained fame in the nations of Malta and Jamaica due to his movie roles; ‘Popeye’ in Malta and ‘Club Paradise’ in Jamaica.
Even decades after those movies were released and their steam died down, those countries still showed up in the top ten, with Malta actually beating out larger nations such as the United Kingdom.
Shockingly, the Sochi Olympics were the most searched term exactly where we expected, with Canada leading the way, followed by Russia, Latvia, Belarus and the Czech Republic. Searches for ‘2014 Winter Olympics’ reached its peak February 8th, the day after the opening ceremonies, and bottomed out February 18th, five days before the closing ceremonies when the larger events began to wind down.
The United States cannot be seen in the top ten in searches for ‘2014 Winter Olympics’, but were second in searches for ‘Sochi Olympics’.
It should also be unsurprising which states searched for ‘2014 Winter Olympics’ and ‘Sochi Olympics’ the most, with Vermont leading the way, followed by North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, Utah, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine and South Dakota. As far as cities go, Minneapolis was first, followed by Denver, Portland, Boston, San Jose, Sea—wait….San Jose??
Yeah, of course San Jose, the sunny California city with an average temperature in the 70’s. No, the city doesn’t have some strange infatuation with games in the snow. Their interest was piqued because of the local hockey team, the Sharks, sending over four players. This was enough to vault San Jose’s interest in the Olympics over cities such as Chicago and New York.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
With over $100 million raised worldwide, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a rousing viral success that brought funds and attention to the little-publicized disease. In the same period last year, between July 29th and August 29th, only $2.8 million was raised. Let that show you the power of social media and networking.
What surprised me in my research of these terms was the sustained interest in the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. Even before and after the challenge, there was significant interest in ALS by those three countries. Only then through further research did I realize the Netherlands had created a campaign two years prior to bring about attention to ALS, as seen in this powerful video:
As you can see, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria have a sustained presence on the map when it comes to ALS:
To this day, interest in ALS is highest in those three countries.