Google knows if you’ve been naughty, it knows if you’ve been nice, and the search engine’s extensive data collection and analytics allow it to regurgitate ourselves back to us, once a year. In 2022’s Google Year in Search retrospective, you can find evidence of what mattered to internet users most, over the past 12 months. It’s like Spotify Wrapped, but for everything — not just tunes and podcasts.
2022 was a tough years in many ways, and the Google data reflects that. For one, there were fewer memes than in past years like 2019. News items dominated, along with some pup culture scandals.
There are some surprises. For instance “quilt shops” made it into the top trending “near me” searches in both Anchorage, Alaska and Des Moines, Iowa. And movies and other media had people trying to learn fictional languages like High Valyrian and Minion, according to a Google press release. Then, there were also some less surprising results, like Ukraine sliding into the number one search spot for news.
Click through for your global data analytics palm reading, or your annual online check-up. Whatever way you prefer to think of it, information lies ahead.
Local Year in Search
A new feature of Year in Search for 2022 allows you to check up, not just on worldwide trends, but also local ones. Find out what’s been going on where you live, or in your hometown.
Top 5 in News
As mentioned earlier, “Ukraine” was the number one most searched news item from this past year. Which is not surprising given Russia’s invasion and the ongoing war there, which has upended everything from the global energy supply to cybersecurity.
Other top searched news terms, in descending order: “Queen Elizabeth’s passing,” “Election results,” “Powerball numbers,” and “Monkeypox.” A lot happened this year. The longest reigning monarch in British history died. The U.S. midterm elections came and went (along with other major elections abroad, like Brazil’s). The record highest Powerball lottery ticket was sold, as Americans gambled on billions. And monkeypox threatened to become a second global pandemic.
The Search for Distraction
And amid all that hard-hitting, heavy news — people sought out small distractions. Or, at least they Google searched for them. “Wordle” was the number one top searched term in 2022. The simple, yet streak-inspiring word game blew up in popularity this year. Its rise was so meteoric, it went from an independent single-widget site to a property of The New York Times after the media giant bought the game from its creator, Josh Wardle.
Other top-searched terms, in descending order:
- India vs England
- Queen Elizabeth
- Ind vs SA
Obviously, despite the gameplay, Google users still kept their eyes on the news — and the World Cup.
When it came to this year’s most searched people, two events seemed to dominate: Johnny Depps’ defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard and the mythic Will Smith / Chris Rock Academy Awards slap (with just a dash of continued interest in Russia’s war in Ukraine.) The top 5 most searched overall names were:
- Johnny Depp
- Will Smith
- Amber Heard
- Vladimir Putin
- Chris Rock
And for Actors, the list was very similar, minus the Russian politician and plus Will Smith’s wife and fellow actor, Jada Pinkett Smith:
- Johnny Depp
- Will Smith
- Amber Heard
- Chris Rock
- Jada Pinkett Smith
But somehow none of those actors were involved in the most searched movies of the year. Instead, the people looked mostly to superheroes.
The most searched box office hits were:
- Thor: Love and Thunder
- Black Adam
- Top Gun: Maverick
- The Batman
Though the most recent Thor franchise hit was uneven — Google users still clearly thought it was worth reading up on. Though searches clearly don’t necessarily correlate with success — as Black Adam’s position on the list demonstrates. The movie came nowhere near breaking even on its production costs at the box office.
Among the searched movie list, Encanto stands out as an outlier for a few reasons. For one, it came out in 2021. Then, it’s the only animated or family-friendly movie on the list. Yet the Disney musical — scored by Lin-Manuel Miranda — was a standout from the start, so clearly it earned its place.
Unlike in movies, searches for TV shows spanned a few more genres — from teen melodrama to fantasy to thriller to docudrama. People were clearly captivated by the second season of HBO’s Euphoria, which premiered in January. And HBO claimed another top spot with its Game of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon.
Marvel made its own appearance on the small screen search stats, with Disney+’s Moon Knight. Then Netflix closed things out with The Watcher and Inventing Anna, one of many recent series immortalizing an infamous scammer.
- House of the Dragon
- Moon Knight
- The Watcher
- Inventing Anna
Google separated out its search analytics by mechanism as well as by category. On those who used Google’s Lens app — there is a whole additional bevy of search data information. Google Lens uses your phone’s camera to run visual searches, and the app got some big upgrades this year, including multisearch and scene exploration.
With those features in tow, people used Lens to explore and identify the world around them. They searched for plants — inside and out — and pets.
The most searched pet terms through Lens (i.e. people taking photos of their cats and dogs) were:
- Domestic short-haired cat
- Tabby cat
- Polydactyl cat
- Labrador Retriever
And on the sessile side of nature, people were looking up fungi, philodendron, and flowers. The top 5 overall Lens nature searchers were for:
- Garden roses
- Damask rose
- Passion flowers
While the top searched houseplants through Lens were:
- Devil’s Ivy
Escape to the Internet
When it came to Google user’s favourite places to search, the classics were on trend. The top cultural landmarks searched in Maps were old standbys:
- Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
- Big Ben, London, United Kingdom
- The Great Pyramid of Giza, Al Giza Desert, Egypt
- Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Royal Palace of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
The two UK top spots make sense because, again, dead Queen. And the Great Pyramid and Christ the Redeemer statue are obviously iconic. The only slightly confusing point is the fifth spot interest in Brussels’ Royal Palace. Most searches for the palace came from Belgium (understandably), but the biggest news story from the Belgian royal residence is that there wasn’t a break-in. Ultimately though, only Google truly knows the why behind the what.
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