On Tuesday, Google released its annual year-end Zeitgeist report, a list of top global search trends for the year that includes a video overview of the search trends in 2013 and the year’s top 100 searches.
“Every day, around the world, we search,” wrote Amit Singhal, a Google senior vice president. “We want to find out more about our heroes, explore far-away destinations, or settle a dinner table dispute between friends. And sometimes we just search to find out how many calories are in an avocado.”
The 2013 Zeitgeist represents the largest sample Google has ever taken to construct their list of top searches and trends across categories such as “Trending People,” “Most-Searched Events” and “Top Trending Searches” from 72 countries opposed to the 55 from last year.
The top four Google searches and fastest-rising search requests this year have been about four different men: Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker, former “Glee” star Cory Monteith and the surviving Boston Bomber suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, reports the Associated Press.
“It’s perhaps unsurprising that the #1 trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace: Nelson Mandela,” says Google’s Amit Singhal. “Global search interest in the former President of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy.”
In second place on the top trending search list is the late actor Paul Walker, who became famous for his roles in “The Fast & the Furious” film series and who died in a car crash in California on Nov. 30.
However, Google’s list isn’t all tragedies. The iPhone 5S was also on the list as Apple’s most popular product, but it only places third in the Google rankings: the Samsung Galaxy S4 was placed as eighth, and PlayStation 4 placed at ninth.
The Top 10 was rounded out by the “Harlem Shake,” a song that inspired a procession of amusing dance videos, at No. 5; “royal baby” Prince George, the heir to England’s throne, at No. 7; and North Korea, whose saber-rattling has become a source of international tension, at No. 10.
In a sub-category of most searched person, a list usually made up mostly of singers, Kim Kardashian was placed as the third most searched person, as well as her soon-to-be husband Kanye West came in at number 10. The top person searched list also includes Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber. They, together with Kim, were the only three people to appear in each most searched person list from Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Spurred in large part by Cyrus’ foam-hand hijinks during the MTV Video Music Awards in August, “What Is Twearking?” also became the biggest trending “What Is” search of the year on Google. “What is Bitcoin” was the tenth most popular search in the US, together with “what is gluten”, and “what is Snapchat”.
Google also released an interactive 3D map that displays the top search trends of the year by day in cities around the world.
The list resembles Google’s top searches from 2012, which was also largely comprised of celebrity deaths, tragedies, royal figures and consumer electronics. Google’s Zeitgeist 2012 global and U.S. search lists were topped by Whitney Houston and her volatile personal life and tragic death in February 2012, followed by the Gangnam Style dance and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The Apple iPad 3 came in at No. 4, and the video game Diablo 3 landed in the No. 5 spot in 2012, says Eweek.