Top Google search trends in 2013: What did people search?

Google, Yahoo and Bing reveal this year's topics with the heaviest traffic. (Credit: Coolcaesar)

Google, Yahoo and Bing reveal this year’s topics with the heaviest traffic. (Credit: Coolcaesar)

As 2013 draws to a close, the Internet’s search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing – have released their search trends in 2013. Each company has released its top search engine results as a 2013 in review. What were people searching for? According to Google search trends in 2013, deaths of famous people drove up traffic. Analysts look at the search results to determine what people were interested in in 2013 – as well as what types of searching are international rather than just national trends.

Top Google trends

On the top of Google’s worldwide search list was former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died December 5, 2013. Given the short amount of time since Mandela’s death, that means more searches were done for Mandela in just a few weeks than searches for the Royal Baby (number 7 on the list, presumably referring to British newborn Prince George) for the whole rest of the year. Some of the searches were tragedy driven:

  • Fast and the Furious actor Paul Walker, at #2, was frequently searched after his death in a car accident
  • Glee star Cory Monteith, who died of an overdose, came in at #5
  • The Boston Marathon, the site of a bombing in April, was #6

Other searches were based on new technology releases:

  • iPhone 5s hit #3
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 was #8
  • PlayStation 4 came in at #9

Rounding out the top ten? Harlem Shake (#5) and North Korea (#10). The U.S. list shares Boston Marathon and Royal Baby but also features some American-specific topics:

  • Government shutdown
  • Tornado in Moore, Okla.
  • Zimmerman Trial

Plenty of people are also paying attention to the Google list of top trends in Asia, to see what might be trending here next year, and also what U.S. companies might be able to do to make a hit abroad. “Tracking tech trends in Asia is a good way of gleaning insight into what might make it big in other markets,” wrote Catherine Shu of TechCrunch in her December 17, 2013, article “Google’s top 2013 search terms in Asia hint at online trends that might go global.” Shu paid particular attention to:

  • Attack of the Titans, a campy Japanese monster anime that has international crossover potential, particularly for viewers who enjoyed Sharknado and Pacific Rim
  • “Puzzle and Dragons,” a match-three puzzle game that was the most popular in Asia and was one of Japan’s top searches (available through Google Play and iTunes for a U.S. audience)
  • “Gangnam Style,” the break-out viral video from Korean pop-star Psy

As a search, Psy didn’t make the top 10 worldwide at Google, but the viral video was YouTube’s most viewed video of 2013.

YouTube, Yahoo and Bing in 2013

What else was trending on YouTube in 2013? YouTubers were watching Ylvis rock out to “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?),” “Harlem Shake” (on Google’s top 10 list), and at least one parody of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” To feature their top videos, YouTube made a compilation video referencing the top videos and memes of 2013 in “YouTube Rewind: What Does 2013 Say?

Living, rather than dying, celebrities were hot on Yahoo in 2013. Miley Cyrus hit the number one spot, with Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Amanda Bynes, Jodi Arias and Justin Bieber also making the top ten. Other concerns for Yahoo users? Minecraft, Obamacare and the iPhone 5.

“Yahoo’s results are presumably drawn from a smaller segment of Internet users than the other search services,” Brandon Bailey noted in Mercury News blog “Silicon Beat” in “Yahoo search trends in 2013: Less voting, more twerking,” posted December 2, 2013. Bailey explained, “The Sunnyvale company only accounted for 11 percent of U.S.-based Internet searches in October, according to comScore, while Bing had 18 percent and Google had the lion’s share with almost 67 percent.”

Bing’s results were reported by category – most searched person, most searched sports star and most searched entertainment electronics. Despite PlayStation 4 being in Google’s top ten, according to Bing, which is owned by Microsoft, the Xbox topped off the entertainment electronics list – which might imply that Microsoft (including Xbox) users are more likely to search on Bing.

Which of these popular search trends most reflect your searches in 2013? Tell us in the comments.

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