Chatroulette, the controversial website that connects webcam users with other live webcam users across the world, was one of the fastest rising search term, while tickets for Take That, Wimbledon and Glastonbury were among the most searched-for in the UK.
“Zeitgeist means ‘the spirit of the times,’ and Google reveals this spirit through the aggregation of millions of search queries we receive every day,” the company says.
Google’s Zeitgeist list is calculated by looking at the aggregation of the most popular and fast-rising search queries being typed in to Google’s UK search engine.
Google said that around a quarter of the search queries it responds to on a daily basis are new, meaning that the search engine has not seen that search before.
Surprisingly, a number of internet startups including Formspring and tech devices like the Apple’s iPad have managed to muscle-in amongst mentions of the 2010 General Election and rail strikes, holding positions in the fastest rising searches in 2010 in UK.
UK searchers also took to Google to quench their thirst for news and events, particularly when the country was in process of electing its next leader. Top news search terms included the names of each political party, mentions of David Cameron and the term “Register to vote”, demonstrating the desire for people in the UK to influence the results of the Election.
Facebook, YouTube, eBay and Google itself are among the 10 most popular search terms in the UK, revealing that users are searching for those sites rather than typing their names into the address bar.
The Next Web noticed that “it might also show that UK searchers are setting Google as their homepage or utilising built-in browser search tools to perform these searches, after-all it wouldn’t make sense to manually type in google.co.uk and then perform the search thereafter, would it?!”
With the recession still fresh in everyones minds, cheap flights and holidays, train tickets and car insurance ranked top in the money-saving search terms, while cakes, curries and pizza were among the top food term searches, suggesting a nation in need of comfort food.
Celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian were among the fastest rising searches for famous people along with Nicki Minaj, a Trinidadian-born hip-hop artist who grew up in New York, California-born pop star Katy Perry and others whose names may well draw a blank with anyone aged over 35.
High-profile divorces earned their own category this year. British web users very actively sought gossip about Cheryl Cole, Tiger Woods and Eva Longoria.
Even Hulk Hogan’s three-year-old divorce from Linda Bollea was the subject of intense interest, assisted by photographs of Bollea partying on a new yacht, which she named Alimoney.
Dr Mark Graham, research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “Zeitgeist is reflecting popular culture, but that’s not to say Google doesn’t have a hand in deciding what we consume online. Through its elaborate ranking systems, Google is actively shaping what we have access to and what we know about the world.”
Zeitgeist also said some of the melancholy underbelly of the internet. Some of the most common searches were for “I feel lonely,” “I want love” and “I hate love”.
“A lot of people trust their search engines to find other people going through the same thing,” said “Chewy” Trewhella, Google’s new business development manager, adding that the US search engine giant recently added the Samaritans’ phone number to the results page for “suicide.” [via The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Next Web]