Google’s annual Year in Search is more than a digital record of the events, stories and phenomena that captured our attention over 12 months. It’s a reckoning, or computation, on what mattered to society in any given year — and sometimes even signal where it’s headed. And 2018 showed a world transfixed on one sporting event, one wedding, celebrity deaths, natural disasters and politics.
In 2018, the global community was locked in on the World Cup. The final match was between France and Croatia; we’ll let you Google who won. The world was also transfixed on high-profile deaths of musicians, scientists and artists. Seven of the 10 top Google searches globally were of people who died in 2018, including theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking, rapper Mac Miller, the DJ Avicii, comic book creator and icon Stan Lee, celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, and fashion designer Kate Spade.
One movie, Black Panther, made the top 10 global list, as well Meghan Markle, the former actress who became Duchess of Sussex when she married Prince Henry.
In the U.S., the top overall searches followed a similar pattern, with a few other disruptive moments thrown in the mix, including the elections results, Hurricane Florence and Mega Millions results.
A scan of other search categories that Google tracked reveals that U.S. users were obsessed with eyelashes in 2018, 1980s fashion, how to vote and how to register to vote, Unicorn cake and the Keto diet. Our top news search in the U.S. was led by the World Cup, followed by Hurricane Florence, Mega Millions, election results and Hurricane Michael. The Kavanaugh confirmation was the sixth most searched news story in 2018. The Florida shooting, the Royal Wedding, Olympic medal count and government shutdown rounded out the top 10 news searches in the U.S., according to Google.
One of the more insightful metrics that Google tracks is the “What is ___ ?” list. In the U.S., people typing in that “what is” question into Google search asked most often about Bitcoin, racketeering, DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), government shutdown and Good Friday. U.S. Google users also wanted explanations for Fortnite, the “Yanny or Laurel” auditory illusion and what a nationalist is.
Speaking of Fortnite, it was the most searched video game, according to Google’s annual Year in Search. The video game Fortnite was also the most searched GIF followed by “Default Dance,” “Dilly Dilly” and “Orange Justice” and “Black Panther.”
Other top searched video games included Red Dead Redemption 2, Fallout 76, Far Cry 5 and God of War.