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US election, coronavirus top 2020 Google searches

James Hall, December 10, 2020 6:45PM NCA NewsWire

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Despite our year being dominated by bushfires and coronavirus, Australians searched for ‘US election’ more than any other term. Picture: iStock media_cameraDespite our year being dominated by bushfires and coronavirus, Australians searched for ‘US election’ more than any other term. Picture: iStock


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It has been a year dominated by crises* from beginning to end as devastating bushfires tore across Australia and then coronavirus changed life as we know it.

Despite this, neither major events were the most searched terms online in Australia, according to Google.

It appears Aussies were engrossed* by the drama of the political battle between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden with ‘US election’ being the most searched term of the year. ‘Trump vs Biden’ was also the 10th most searched term.

media_cameraUS President-elect Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump on election night. Picture: AFP

In second place was ‘coronavirus’, while ‘coronavirus symptoms’ came in at fifth and ‘coronavirus Victoria’ at nine, as the state most impacted by the health crisis in Australia.

Surprisingly, American basketball league, the ‘NBA’, came in at number three and ‘Kobe Bryant’ at number six following the sport star’s death in a helicopter crash.

media_cameraKobe Bryant, then #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers, smiles during the post-game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, US. Picture: Getty Images/AFP

The global shift to working and studying from home led to the term ‘zoom’ coming in at five as we all scrambled to connect to the outside world from our dining rooms and bedrooms.

The always popular ‘weather tomorrow’, came in at seven and ‘fires near me’ at eight.

The top three searched news topics are a true reflection of the extraordinary year, with ‘US election’ at one, ‘coronavirus’ at two, and ‘fires near me’ rounding out the top three.

***AUSTRALIA TOP STORIES - YEAR IN REVIEW*** NSW On Severe Bushfire Alert As Weather Conditions Worsen media_cameraThe Dunn Road fire on January 10, 2020 in Mount Adrah, NSW. Picture: Getty Images

“2020 began with smokey skies as Australia battled raging bushfires – prompting us to search for ‘fires near me’ and check the air quality,” Google said.

“Not long after, COVID-19 rattled the world, steering our searches towards safeguards and lockdown kits. We were on a mission for hand sanitiser, face masks, antibacterial wipes and isopropyl alcohol*.”

Melbourne COVID-19 Hotspot Suburbs In Lockdown Following Rise In Community Coronavirus Transmissions media_cameraAn elderly man gets a COVID-19 test at a testing site at the shopping precinct in the locked down suburb of Dallas on July 2, 2020 in Melbourne, Victoria. Picture: Getty Images

The great toilet paper shortage of 2020 was also evident through the nation’s top searches, with the wipes taking out the top spot in ‘can I’ searches – “Where can I buy toilet paper”, and number two in ‘Goods and Giving’ – “Buy toilet paper online”.

A moment of desperation hit enough Australians to get “DIY* toilet paper” to the sixth-highest search of do-it-yourself fixes.

Supplied Editorial COVID - The great toilet paper panic begins at Woolworths, Elizabeth  Shopping Centre. media_cameraSouth Australian residents panic buying toilet paper on November 16, 2020 at Woolworths, Elizabeth Shopping Centre, SA. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Google said the list of trending terms shows 2020 was a year for us all to learn new words as we grappled* with our lives being flipped upside down.

“We may have been lost for words this year, but it turns out we found some new ones too,” it said.

“Search shows we were looking to understand medical, scientific and political terminology – as we looked up the definitions of COVID, pandemic, lockdown and stimulus package.”

Click on the interactive graphic below to see what we searched for in 2020.


  • crises: plural or crisis
  • engrossed: completely focused on
  • isopropyl alcohol: the sanitising ingredient in hand sanitiser
  • DIY: do-it-yourself
  • grappled: struggled to understand or manage


What we searched for on Google 2010-2020

‘Iso’ declared Australia’s word of the year

Special ‘covid’ stamp printed on toilet paper


  1. What is this news story about?
  2. Which was the most searched-for term?
  3. Which two people were contesting the US Presidential election?
  4. What sporting organisation was popular in searches?
  5. What was the sixth-highest search on the DIY list?


1. Write a List
What do you think the top 10 searches for the kids in your class would be? Your top 10 can include overall topics, definitions, events, questions, recipes – anything!

If your class has time, compare your lists and discuss which searches are on many people’s lists? You could make a class list of the top 10 from combining all your lists.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity, 30 minutes if class lists are discussed and combined.
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Imagine you are a historian and it is the year 9020 — 700 years in the future. You are trying to find out about what life was like in 2020. You have found these lists but you don’t know much else about life in 2020. Use the list to write a description of what you think life in 2020 was like.

Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History

Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?

What are they?

Can you sort them into their categories?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which popular Google search term surprises you most? Why?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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