Google’s Zeitgeist 2010

Google yesterday released its annual Zeitgeist – a review of the past year as seen through the billions of searches typed into its market-leading search engine.

Instead of just listing the most popular searches, Google again went with its “Fastest Rising” tables. These are determined by finding the most popular searches conducted in 2010 and then comparing them with their popularity in 2009. Hence, fastest rising and the use of the term Zeitgeist, which loosely translates as “the spirit of the age.”

This different methodology gives Google some interesting results – and very different lists from those of its competitors, Bing and Yahoo!, which were published earlier this month.

At the top of overall Fastest Rising list was Chatroulette, the risqué video chat service that appeared from nowhere early in the year and created headlines all over the world. Chatroulette was followed by the iPad at #2 and Justin Bieber at #3. Recording artist Nicki Minaj came on the scene in a big way in 2010 capturing the #4 spot, and Twitter and Facebook also made the top 10, coming in at #8 and #9 respectively.

But just as quickly as those search terms rose during the year, there were some familiar queries that fell from favor. “Swine flu” was the “Fastest Falling” search term around the world this year, followed by “wamu” and “new moon”. Michael Jackson, who headed last year’s Fastest Rising terms, switched lists and placed ninth on this year’s Fastest Falling chart.

In the “Fastest Rising in Entertainment” category, Justin Bieber led the way, ahead of Shakira and Eminem. Surprisingly, “Netflix” and “YouTube videos” rounded out the top five, beating out Lady Gaga and Kesha, two of the more popular pop artists.

On the sports side, “Mundial 2010” (Soccer World Cup) was #1, followed by “Olympics”. The Haiti earthquake was on the minds of more people than any other news topic this year, and “donate to Haiti” led the top search queries for humanitarian aid.

Google also examined what topics were the fastest rising in the consumer electronics space this year. Not surprisingly, Apple's iPad and iPhone 4 took the top two spots, followed by the Nokia 5530, the HTC Evo 4G, and the Nokia N900.

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