If Google searches are a window into what Americans are really thinking about, then millions of us have taken notice of an online daily word game developed by a New York-based software engineer.
The impact of the term, Wordle, is the most searched term in 2022, which surprised Simon Rogers, the trends data team at Google is leading the most about this year’s data.
“All trend definitions depend on Wordles and its effect on our data cannot be overestimated,” Rogers told VOA in an email.
The five most popular Google searches in 2022 – Wordle, Election Results, Betty White, Queen Elizabeth and Bob Saget – also focus on politics and famous people who died this year.
With 92% of the global search engine market share, Google is the dominant way Americans search for information about the world.
“Google searches cover what we’re really interested in,” says Rogers. “It tends to show what we really care about with an honesty that you don’t find in any other data set.”
The top news searches in 2022 were: election results, Queen Elizabeth’s passing and Ukraine. People also wanted to know how to pronounce Qatar and Kyiv; and about things like gas prices, COVID tests and voting that were closest to them. They also sought information on how to help Ukraine, Ukrainian refugees, abortion rights and Uvalde (the scene of the American school mass shooting in Texas).
“While we can expect the worst or be cynical about human motives, that’s not what the data show,” says Rogers. “We want to help the people of Ukraine or host refugees. We want to help our friends if there is depression and we want to donate to good causes. All this is reflected in the data.”
Rogers says there were other issues that struck him about the 2022 search data.
“It’s been a really tough year with really big events that all got in the way of our search,” he says. “The center of the middle [elections]For example, literally the top searched media of all time. But there were also searches that really talked about the issue of change or improvement. People, for example, searched for ‘jobs that help’ more than ‘jobs that travel’.”
In 2021, there was some focus on COVID-19 vaccines, stimulus checks and people like Gabby Petito, Kyle Rittenhouse and Brian Laundrie – all of which were associated with violence and death.
“Last year, it was really about getting through the pandemic and learning how to get out again. This year is about the next phase of that journey,” Rogers says. “A moment [Google] Trends don’t predict the future, because of this year’s theme of change, next year we may begin to see the ways people have changed.”