A Year in Search: A Look Back at 2015

Mark Covert

PPC Strategist

With every search comes another indication of who we are as people. Take the recent Paris attacks for instance. A tragedy such as this can make the world seem like a terrible, evil place. How could people be so heartless as to kill over a hundred innocent civilians and then be proud to take credit for it? Yet shortly after the terror had unfolded, millions of people were brought together to support the people of Paris.

We might not have known the support that had poured in if it hadn’t been for the Internet. People from all parts of the world were sending their love on social media and searching online for ways to help.

Some people offered housing to host survivors or stranded people and shared their invitation using the hashtag #PorteOuverte or #OpenDoor. Others mourned outside the Bataclan, while international tech companies waived the fees for their services in France. People have also donated money to the families of the victims. In the wake of tragedy comes humanity.

The Internet connects people. With each and every search, we learn more about who are as humans. What’s important to us. What goals we have for future generations. What topics bring out emotion. What songs get us up and moving. What inspires us to share our voice. What motivates us to make a difference.

Let’s take a look back at 2015 and explore the year’s biggest moments that have taken place on Google.

Paris Under Attack: Terror in the Heart of Europe. 897M+ searches

On Friday, November 13, terrorists attacked a restaurant, cafe, stadium and theater. These were the deadliest attacks on French soil since World War II. People from all over the world tried desperately to make sure that loved ones were safe. Hostages from the Bataclan were freed on live video, which meant people were experiencing this terror with their French neighbors. This day saw the highest search interest for Paris in the history of Google.

Water on Mars: Life on the Red Planet? 10M+ searches

The idea of life on another planet has always fascinated us, and we prove this by making the announcement of water on Mars one of the biggest moments on Google. In late September, NASA scientists discovered water flowing across the surface of Mars. The discovery of water gives us hope that we can one day travel there, and that there may be life beyond our planet. And while Earth is still the most frequently searched planet on Google, searches for Mars peaked with this discovery.

The Pope Comes to America: Pope Francis Makes His First Official Trip. 14M+ searches

The Pope setting foot on American soil is a big deal. In September, Pope Francis made his first official trip to the US and became the first Pontiff to give an address to a joint session of the US Congress. A popular search was, “Where is the Pope?” as he moved across cities.

Migrant Crisis: A Human Tragedy. 23M+ searches

The migrant crisis is an interesting one. First, there are the searches that look for information about Europe’s refugee crisis and the number of migrants coming from Syria to the European Union. This news came to a particularly low point in April when five boats carrying almost 2,000 migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea. The death toll estimated more than 1,200 people.

Second, online searches show the different attitudes that people have around the world regarding refugees. How can we help them? Which countries are accepting them? What’s causing this to happen? These are just some of the searches that are frequently entered into Google.

Third, pictures of young children, such as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on shore have galvanized the effects of the crisis to the world. No one can turn an eye to what’s going on when seeing a photo like this.

Election 2016. The Race Begins: Preparing for the Primaries. 338M+ searches

Everyone loves to talk politics. Now there is a lot to talk about! The 2016 Presidential campaign began this year, and battle lines were drawn as candidates set out their positions on various issues. The most searched presidential candidates were Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The most searched Election 2016 policy issues include immigration, same-sex marriage, education, taxes and gun control. The Presidential campaign will really  heat up in 2016, but for now, we’ve gotten a taste of what’s important to Americans.

Guns in America: A Year of Tragedy. 160M+ searches  

The mass shootings across America have sparked controversy around gun control, and the events led to huge spikes in searches for those cities over the year including Charleston NC, Chattanooga TN, Roseberg OR, Colorado Springs CO and San Bernardino CA. A commonly searched question on Google is, “What is gun control?” Searches for gun control even topped searches for gun shops this year.

Caitlyn Jenner: Her True Self Revealed to the World. 366M+ searches

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, told her story to the world and was photographed in probably one of the most famous Vanity Fair covers ever. Searches ranged from basic questions such as, “Who is Caitlyn Jenner” to key questions about her life. Perhaps what was most interesting from these related searches is that they sparked interest in the transgender community. More searches than ever before were recorded on the issue.

Same-Sex Marriage: Love Wins. 108M+ searches

The year 2015 was historic for love. It was in this year that the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be recognized at the state and federal level. Search interest for same-sex marriage and the US Supreme Court were higher than at any other time in Google history. Everything from, “Where can I get a license?” to “What if I’m against gay marriage?” was given attention in the search engines.

Oscars: The 87th Academy Awards, February. 406M+ searches

It’s the biggest event of the year for Hollywood, and viewers love to sit home and conduct a number of searches on the actors and actresses who are nominated as well as the movies they have produced over the last year. Some of the Best Picture nominees were American Sniper, Birdman and Boyhood. Best Actress nominees included Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore and Rosamund Pike, while Best Actor nominees included Bradley Cooper, Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

Every search you type into Google gives meaning to who you are and what you find important. When you add this to all the other searches taking place, it builds a profile of humanity. The story of us.

About the Author: Mark Covert

Mark has joined the SEM Geeks team as a PPC Strategist in early 2015. Mark graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sports Management and a minor in Business. Mark started out early on in his career from freelancing web design, which ultimately evolved into marketing clients websites to create a great user experience and the best possible results for both parties. Prior to joining the Geeks, he has worked for DNA marketing, managing several large Fortune 500 paid search clients, while continuing to refine his skills and knowledge within the industry.

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