What the world searched for in 2012

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google's published its list of the most-searched terms of 2012, showing the world to be particularly interested in Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style and Hurricane Sandy.

All in all, says Google in its Zeitgeist 2012 report, there were over a trillion searches worldwide.

In the US, the top-trending search - in other words, the one with the highest traffic over a sustained period - was Whitney Houston, who died in February. This is followed by Hurricane Sandy, Election 2012, The Hunger Games, Jeremy Lin and Olympics 2012.

"Global superstar Whitney Houston topped many countries’ lists as well as three of our overall trending lists — her unexpected death surprising fans around the world," says SVP & Google fellow Amit Singhal on the company blog.

"From Korea, YouTube sensation PSY’s 'Gangnam Style' signature dance took the world by storm, landing him the #1 spot in many countries and making his song the second most trending query of 2012."

The top-trending gadget in the US was the iPad 3, followed by the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7.

"People researched a breadth of other topics, too. Web users took a serious interest in threats to the open internet, with proposals like SOPA and ACTA both finding their way to the top of many countries’ lists," says Singhal.

"The US elections brought attention to the candidates and issues, not least the presidential campaigns’ most notorious political gaffes. And while it might not be surprising to see that tragic natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy ranked highly (#3 on the global trending list), it is reassuring to find searches like [donate to Sandy] spiking as well."

One topic that doesn't feature on any of the lists is porn - which Google has just made much harder to find. Next year's X-rated searches look set to be a great deal more specific...