It has been a year dominated by crises* from beginning to end as devastating bushfires tore across Australia and then coronavirus changed life as we know it.
Despite this, neither major events were the most searched terms online in Australia, according to Google.
It appears Aussies were engrossed* by the drama of the political battle between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden with ‘US election’ being the most searched term of the year. ‘Trump vs Biden’ was also the 10th most searched term.
In second place was ‘coronavirus’, while ‘coronavirus symptoms’ came in at fifth and ‘coronavirus Victoria’ at nine, as the state most impacted by the health crisis in Australia.
Surprisingly, American basketball league, the ‘NBA’, came in at number three and ‘Kobe Bryant’ at number six following the sport star’s death in a helicopter crash.
The global shift to working and studying from home led to the term ‘zoom’ coming in at five as we all scrambled to connect to the outside world from our dining rooms and bedrooms.
The always popular ‘weather tomorrow’, came in at seven and ‘fires near me’ at eight.
The top three searched news topics are a true reflection of the extraordinary year, with ‘US election’ at one, ‘coronavirus’ at two, and ‘fires near me’ rounding out the top three.
“2020 began with smokey skies as Australia battled raging bushfires – prompting us to search for ‘fires near me’ and check the air quality,” Google said.
“Not long after, COVID-19 rattled the world, steering our searches towards safeguards and lockdown kits. We were on a mission for hand sanitiser, face masks, antibacterial wipes and isopropyl alcohol*.”
The great toilet paper shortage of 2020 was also evident through the nation’s top searches, with the wipes taking out the top spot in ‘can I’ searches – “Where can I buy toilet paper”, and number two in ‘Goods and Giving’ – “Buy toilet paper online”.
A moment of desperation hit enough Australians to get “DIY* toilet paper” to the sixth-highest search of do-it-yourself fixes.
Google said the list of trending terms shows 2020 was a year for us all to learn new words as we grappled* with our lives being flipped upside down.
“We may have been lost for words this year, but it turns out we found some new ones too,” it said.
“Search shows we were looking to understand medical, scientific and political terminology – as we looked up the definitions of COVID, pandemic, lockdown and stimulus package.”
Click on the interactive graphic below to see what we searched for in 2020.
- crises: plural or crisis
- engrossed: completely focused on
- isopropyl alcohol: the sanitising ingredient in hand sanitiser
- DIY: do-it-yourself
- grappled: struggled to understand or manage
- What is this news story about?
- Which was the most searched-for term?
- Which two people were contesting the US Presidential election?
- What sporting organisation was popular in searches?
- What was the sixth-highest search on the DIY list?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Write a List
What do you think the top 10 searches for the kids in your class would be? Your top 10 can include overall topics, definitions, events, questions, recipes – anything!
If your class has time, compare your lists and discuss which searches are on many people’s lists? You could make a class list of the top 10 from combining all your lists.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity, 30 minutes if class lists are discussed and combined.
Curriculum Links: English
Imagine you are a historian and it is the year 9020 — 700 years in the future. You are trying to find out about what life was like in 2020. You have found these lists but you don’t know much else about life in 2020. Use the list to write a description of what you think life in 2020 was like.
Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.
How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).
Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?
What are they?
Can you sort them into their categories?
HAVE YOUR SAY: Which popular Google search term surprises you most? Why?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.