“What is scampi” and other unnerving search queries. Google’s annual zeitgeist is revealed

The end of the year is almost upon us, and Google has published it’s annual zeitgeist, revealing the most searched for terms in 2011.

You are reading: “What is scampi” and other unnerving search queries. Google’s annual zeitgeist is revealed

The end of the year is almost upon us, and Google has published it’s annual zeitgeist, revealing the most searched for terms in 2011.


Image via http://justfuckinggoogleit.com/

In keeping with past years, the results show a real mixed bag of people, places, products and events that, let’s be honest, make our search habits look like the contents page of a trashy magazine.

Firstly, here’s what the world was searching for;

Top 10 fastest-rising global queries of 2011

1. Rebecca Black – whiny teeny-bopper responsible for the atrocity known as ‘Friday’.

2. Google+ – the much anticipated, over-hyped social network that’s anything but social.

3. Ryan Dunn – 34 year old Jackass star who sadly lost his life in a car accident in June.

4. Casey Anthony – where to start? Google it.

5. Battlefield 3 – highly anticipated first-person shooter video game for gamers who like war.

6. iPhone 5 – the phone that never happened. Instead we got an iPhone 4 with a half-assed virtual assistant called SIRI.

7. Adele – 22 year old singer who dominated the UK album charts for 16 consecutive weeks. *Yawn.

8. ?? ?? (TEPCO) – Japanese government ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents after the 2011 earthquake damaged nuclear reactors.

9. Steve Jobs – The technological visionary who tragically lost his life in October after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

10. iPad2 – the slightly better version of the iPad sold out virtually everywhere in it’s first week. What recession?


That was representative of the world’s search habits, but what were we all talking about in the UK, specifically?

Top 10 fastest rising UK searches

1. Royal Wedding – without a doubt the biggest event of the year. Caused major buzz across all media platforms.

2. iPhone 5 – see above

3. FIFA 12 – the annual release of the nation’s favourite football video game.

4. Groupon – because paying full-price is so last year.

5. iPad 2 – see above

6. Ryan Dunn – see above

7. Adele – see above

8. Minecraft – indie, sandbox-building video game for adults who still live with their parents.

9. Rebecca Black – you should all be ashamed of yourselves, tut tut.

10. Ed Sheeran – chubby, ginger-haired Suffolk boy who shot to fame as a result of an average debut single.

Nothing too shocking there, but the inclusion of Rebecca Black is a little unsettling. Here are some more condensed lists of the UK search habits over the past 12 months, that may or may not restore your sense of national pride.

Top 10 UK searches

1. Facebook

2. YouTube

3. Hotmail

4. Ebay

5. Google

6. BBC

7. Amazon

8. Argos

9. Yahoo

10. Tesco

Top 10 news searches

1. BBC News

2. Arsenal

3. Facebook

4. YouTube

5. Cheryl Cole

6. iPhone 5

7. Liverpool

8. Kate Middleton

9. Manchester United

10. Justin Bieber

Top 10 ‘people’ searches

1. Ryan Dunn

2. Adele

3. Rebecca Black

4. Ed Sheeran

5. Amy Winehouse

6. Charlie Sheen

7. Steve Jobs

8. Kate Middleton

9. Nicki Minaj

10. Darren Criss

Top 10 celebrity searches

1. Kim Kardashian

2. Victoria Beckham

3. Emma Watson

4. Scarlett Johansson

5. Jennifer Aniston

6. Britney Spears

7. Megan Fox

8. Ricky Gervais

9. Jessica Jane

10. Angelina Jolie

Top 10 food & drink searches

1. Asda

2. Recipes

3. Tesco

4. Sainsburys

5. Pizza

6. Chicken

7. Chocolate

8. Dominos

9. Morrisons

10. Argos

Top 10 ‘what is’ searches

1. AV

2. Scampi

3. Truffles

4. Piles

5. 4d

6. Cookies

7. Copyright

8. Zumba

9. iCloud

10. Probate

Top 10 ‘how to’ searches

1. Revise

2. Snog

3. Reference

4. Wallpaper

5. Draw

6. Sleep

7. Flirt

8. Geek

9. Pronounce


Take what you will from this information, but it does raise a few concerning questions – why are we so obsessed with US celebrities? are we all romantically inept? what’s with Rebecca Black? ASDA? and most importantly, what is scampi?

However, there are some positives here too. Most notably in the ‘what is’ list, with the queries ‘AV’ and ‘cookies’ showing we care about more than just Kim Kardashian’s bum. The news list also paints a positive picture, with the nation’s priorities in tact when it comes to choice of football team. There’s also only one mention of Bieber, which would suggest ‘Bieber fever’ is a less serious illness than first expected.

What do you think? surprised by the results, or are they as expected?

For more 2011 search data, top 10 lists and snazzy visualisations visit www.googlezeitgeist.com.

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