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Google reveals the top topics Australians searched for from 2010 to now

David Mills, December 16, 2019 7:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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A firefighter conducts back burning to keep houses safe from bushfires moving towards them on the NSW Central Coast on December 10, 2019. Picture: AFP media_cameraA firefighter conducts back burning to keep houses safe from bushfires moving towards them on the NSW Central Coast on December 10, 2019. Picture: AFP

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This year’s bushfires prompted* a bigger spike* in Australian online search queries than any other news event this decade, Google has revealed.

Natural disasters caused us to consult Google again and again throughout the 2010s. “Fires near me” was the most popular single search query in Australia for 2019, while the Queensland floods of 2011 was the sixth highest-spiking search of the decade, and Cyclone Yasi was the 10th.

A disaster of another kind – the 2016 “Census fail” – created the third-biggest Google spike of the decade, as frustrated Australians tried to find out why they weren’t able to lodge their forms online on the evening of the country’s first-ever digital count.

In the end, 4.9 million online forms were lodged and Australian Statistician David Kalisch later said the 96 per cent completion rate was “comparable with previous Censuses” – but the debacle* caused enormous frustration.

President Elect Donald Trump Holds Victory Rally media_cameraThe 2016 US election and US President Donald Trump have been popular search topics for Australians this past decade. Here, then-President-elect Trump thanks crowds on December 15, 2016 for voting for him. Picture: AFP

The 2016 US election was the biggest international event that Australians seemed to want to know more about – not too surprising given Donald Trump’s upset victory – and Trump himself led the table of top trending* global figures we googled.

Investors clamoured* to find out more about the Bitcoin* price run of December 2017, when the launch of two new bitcoin futures markets* caused the cryptocurrency* to double in value within a couple of weeks.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March 2014, the death of al-Queda head Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018 were the other international events that prompted the most Google searches.

media_cameraPrince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, UK on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony. Picture: AFP

Apart from Trump, the names that had the highest increase in search traffic over the decade were all in the entertainment field, with Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus rounding out the top five.

Entertainment figures also dominated the list of top trending Australian public figures for the decade – with rapper Iggy Azalea somewhat surprisingly beating actors Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie and Hugh Jackman.

media_cameraAustralian actor Hugh Jackman, seen here as the movie character Wolverine, was one of the most common Australian entertainers we searched for on Google this decade.

Even more surprising than that, however, is the fact that the very top of that list was dominated by figures from the world of current affairs and politics.

News Corp columnist* Andrew Bolt led the table of names of top trending Australian public figures, followed by former prime ministers Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard.

HIGHEST SPIKING NEWS EVENTS, PAST DECADE IN AUSTRALIA

  1.  2019 Bushfires (November 2019)
  2. 2016 US election (November 2016)
  3. 2016 Census (August 2016)
  4. Bitcoin price run (December 2017)
  5. MH370 (March 2014)
  6. Queensland floods (January 2011)
  7. 2019 Australian federal election (May 2019)
  8. Death of Osama bin Laden (May 2011)
  9. 2018 Royal wedding (May 2018)
  10. Cyclone Yasi (February 2011)
European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" media_cameraBeyonce Knowles-Carter attends the European Premiere of Disney’s “The Lion King” at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, UK. Picture: Getty Images

TOP TRENDING GLOBAL PUBLIC FIGURES, PAST DECADE IN AUSTRALIA

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Justin Bieber
  3. Kim Kardashian
  4. Taylor Swift
  5. Miley Cyrus
  6. Eminem
  7. Katy Perry
  8. Beyoncé
  9. Ed Sheeran
  10. Kylie Jenner
Former PM Julia GillardÕs Official Portrait Unvei media_cameraFormer Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott at the unveiling of a portrait of Ms Gillard at Parliament House, Canberra in 2018. Picture: Kym Smith

TOP TRENDING AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC FIGURES, PAST DECADE IN AUSTRALIA

  1. Andrew Bolt
  2. Tony Abbott
  3. Julia Gillard
  4. Iggy Azalea
  5. Nicole Kidman
  6. Chris Hemsworth
  7. Margot Robbie
  8. Hugh Jackman
  9. Jarryd Hayne
  10. Lara Bingle

VIDEO: Looking back at the biggest news of the decade

The end of a decade: Looking back at the 2010s

GLOSSARY

  • prompted: caused or brought about
  • spike: a quick and big increase
  • debacle: a sudden and major failure
  • trending: currently popular and widely discussed online
  • clamoured: shout loudly and insistently
  • bitcoin: digital currency bought and sold online
  • futures markets: for buying and selling agreements to for things that will be made in the future, such as energy or bitcoin
  • cryptocurrency: a digital or virtual currency to be bought or sold
  • columnist: writes opinion articles

EXTRA READING

Love and fun rule at the Royal wedding

Did Donald Trump fist pump the Queen?

What is cryptocurrency and how does it work?

Australia on high fire alert

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What search term was the most common in Australian in 2019?
  2. What went wrong with the 2016 Australian census?
  3. Whose wedding was popular for people to search for? What year was that?
  4. What were the top two top spiking news events 2010-2020 in Australia?
  5. Who were the three top trending international public figures in Australian Google searches?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. If it wasn’t for Google
Google as an internet search engine began in the late 1990s just over 20 years ago. It, along with other search engines, has become a very useful tool to find information quickly. However, before people had easy access to the internet, on tablets, phones, computers etc, they were still able to find out information.

Draw up a three-column chart, labelled INFORMATION SOURCE, ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES.

In the first column, make a list of sources of information other than the internet. In the next column, make a note of any advantages you can think of, for using this method to collect information compared to using Google. In the last column list any disadvantages of using this method compared to using Google.

For example: Newspapers – Advantages – Published regularly, up-to-date news, covers a variety of issues. Disadvantages – Only has information that is topical at the time, the information you need won’t necessarily be there.

In your final row, fill in an entry for Google listing its advantages and disadvantages compared with other sources of information.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Technologies – Digital Technologies, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
What do you use Google (or another search engine) for?

Take a poll of your class to find out what the last five things they used Google for. When you have finished, analyse this data. Are there any common things emerging? If possible, represent the data in a graph. You can choose the type of graph that suits your data. You may need to use themes rather than individual topics searched when graphing your data. (For example, rather than individual names you might organise your data into ‘Sportspeople’ ‘Musicians’ ‘Politicians’ etc. How does your data compare to the data in the article? Were there any similarities or significant differences?

Time: allow 50 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Mathematics, Technologies – Digital Technologies, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Google for Research
Imagine you are doing a research project on one of the topics that the article lists as being popular for people to search on Google. Pick a category or person from the article to research and come up with 5 key questions you could type into Google to see what answers you get.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What search term do you think would have been most common at your school or in your class this year?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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