Google releases its 2020 “year in search” results

Google sign

Updated on December 10, 2021

It’s the end of what’s been a very trying year for most of us, but that’s not stopping the usual “year in review” articles. That includes myself, of course—admittedly, “best (whatever) of 2020” makes for an easy blog post topic.

Google’s released its annual “year in search” results (both worldwide and the US) for 2020. Here’s my thoughts on the search results.

Top 10 global search terms

American election mail envelope with face mask
Photo by Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash
  1. Coronavirus
  2. Election results
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Zoom
  5. IPL
  6. India vs New Zealand
  7. Coronavirus update
  8. Coronavirus symptoms
  9. Joe Biden
  10. Google Classroom

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus is the most searched term in the world. Pandemic-related terms also made the list, including updates (#7) and symptoms (#8). Zoom (#4) and Google Classroom (#10) are also likely pandemic-related, with people needing to figure out how to video chat or hold virtual classrooms online.

I suspect election results (#2) are likely about the US’ presidential elections. Joe Biden (#9) would also tie into such.

IPL (#5) and India vs. New Zealand (#6) are related to the sport of cricket.

The death of Kobe Bryant (#3) shocked everyone back in January.

Top 10 US search terms

New PS5 Console
Photo by Charles Sims / Unsplash
  1. Election results
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Coronavirus update
  5. Coronavirus symptoms
  6. Zoom
  7. Who is winning the election
  8. Naya Rivera
  9. Chadwick Boseman
  10. PlayStation 5

Surprisingly, the election’s results (at #1) outranked even the coronavirus (#2) stateside. The length of time it took to tally results (due to mail-in ballots) and very high anticipation over who’d win the presidency also explains why “who is winning the election” (#7) ranked so high.

Naya Rivera (#8) was an actress who passed away in July; she was best known for a role on the 2000s TV series “Glee.”

Chadwick Boseman (#9) passed away in August. He was best known for his role as T’Challa in the movie “Black Panther,” though also played other roles (such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall).

The release of the PlayStation 5 (#10) got a lot of attention. (Meanwhile, I notice the new Xbox didn’t crack the top 10.)

Top 10 movies (US)

Bad Boys For Life
“Bad Boys For Life.” (Columbia Pictures / Sony)
  1. Parasite
  2. 1917
  3. Black Panther
  4. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
  5. Little Women
  6. Just Mercy
  7. Bad Boys 3
  8. Sonic the Hedgehog
  9. Contagion
  10. Fantasy Island

This year saw cinema’s biggest disruption in decades, thanks to the pandemic. As such, with nearly all movie theaters shut down and extremely few new films released past March, most of the top 10 films above came out either last year or early this year.

Parasite” (#1) is this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture.

Just Mercy” (#6) is a biographical film about Walter McMillian, an African-American man wrongfully convicted of murder. The film (starring Jamie Foxx) saw renewed attention during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Bad Boys 3 (#7) likely refers to “Bad Boys For Life,” which came out in January. The film stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and was a surprise hit. Between that and the aforementioned theater shutdown, the film’s the year’s highest-grossing domestic film. It’s also (to date) the world’s third highest-grossing film for 2020, after a pair of Chinese films.

Contagion” (#9) is a 2011 film about the CDC dealing with a pandemic. Little surprise it got renewed attention in 2020.

Top 10 TV shows (US)

netflix all day
Photo by Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash
  1. Tiger King
  2. Cobra Kai
  3. Ozark
  4. The Umbrella Academy
  5. The Queen’s Gambit
  6. Little Fires Everywhere
  7. Outer Banks
  8. Ratched
  9. All American
  10. The Last Dance

Tiger King” got a lot of attention earlier this year, helped by coming out in March (with the initial wave of pandemic shutdowns). Thus, no surprise it’s at #1.

Almost all of the entries on this list are from streaming services. Again, there was a lot of time for streaming TV shows, thanks to stay-at-home pandemic orders. All the entries except for two are Netflix series: “Little Fires Everywhere” (#6, on Hulu), and “All American” (#9, on The CW).

The Last Dance” (#10) is a miniseries about the life of Michael Jordan. ESPN and Netflix co-produced the miniseries.

“Google Logo 1” by Ryan J. Quick is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr / cropped from original)


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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