As the 19,500 visitors who come to this blog know, I love keywords.


These words that people search for a daily, hourly and every second basis are what are in peoples’ minds. These trends that google keeps track of or searches that people make to obtain something (information, retailers who will sell them an item they want or websites which give some form of fulfillment [social, interest or something to help with the daily mundane]) are truly what reflect what’s in the minds of our society today.

Having this knowledge can reap financial rewards. Understanding these trends and search dynamics can provide people power in many arenas. Thus, my interest in these keywords.

This love of keywords has translated into an annual study I’ve been doing for a number of years trying to understand what are the most popular keywords on the internet.

Not only do I love keywords, but so does google and they believe these keywords & the data behind them represent the “spirit of the current times.” As a result, they publish an annual report sharing with us what were the top keyword trends of the year called Google Zeitgeist.  Before the 2012 edition comes out soon, I thought we would review the past 11 years.

2001 Google Zeitgeist

The first year they published this annual report on the year’s trends was 2001.  In that year, we learned the top 10 women who were sought after were:

     1. britney spears
     2. pamela anderson
     3. jennifer lopez
     4. madonna
     5. aaliyah
     6. kylie minogue
     7. shakira
     8. anna kournikova
     9. andrea thompson
   10. mariah carey

In the top 10 men list, you didn’t find a popular musician, but rather a reputed seer at the top of the list.

1. nostradamus
     2. osama bin laden
     3. eminem
     4. michael jackson
     5. howard stern
     6. george harrison
     7. josh hartnett
     8. dale earnhardt
     9. bob marle
   10. michael jordan

and the top 20 rising searches that year was also topped by the top male searched that year, the famous French apothecary Nostradamus.  After the author of “Les Propheties” came the following other rising trends:

     2. cnn
     3. world trade center
     4. harry potter
     5. anthrax
     6. windows xp
     7. osama bin laden
     8. audiogalaxy
     9. taliban
   10. loft story
   11. afghanistan
   12. nimda
   13. american airlines
   14. american flag
   15. aaliyah
   16. fbi
   17. kazaa
   18. lord of the rings
   19. jennifer lopez
   20. xbox

And here is how the search trends occurred throughout the year

Top Misspelled Queries
January 2001
     1. inaguration > inauguration
     2. presidental > presidential


America searches for “dale earnhardt” and “nascar” as a nation mourns the loss of a racing legend.

Searchers respond to theseattle earthquake, which occured on February 28.
Big crashes on the Google Zeitgeist as the mir space station returns to Earth and Tom Cruiseand Nicole Kidman announce divorce.
Searches for “carol brady maiden name” coincide with the East and West coast airing of the million dollar question on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
Important dates in May: Mother’s DayCinco de MayoMemorial DayElezioni (Italian election day)
European sporting events top Google’s gaining queries.1. wimbledon
2. tour de france
3. british open
Webvan closes its doors.
The Powerball Lottery reaches $295 million.
For Google search statistics from September 11th,click here. Nostradamus becomes the number one overall search term and the most misspelled query for the month.
Top Searches related to the war on terrorism:
1. daisy cutter
2. bunker buster
3. AC 130
4. diego garcia
5. afghanistan
xbox vs. playstation 2 vs. gamecube
Top Holiday Searches
     1. christmas
     2. navidad
     3. hanukkah
     4. weihnachtskarten
     5. adventskalender
January February March April May June July August September October November December
50% of the top 10 gaining queries were related to Chinese New Year, which occured January 24th.
all your base are belong to us” phenomenon debuts on the Google Zeitgeist.
America searches for “ellis island” and its roots as the archive of immigration records goes online.
French users search for information on the French reality television show loft story.
Timothy McVeigh is executed after reading the poem “invictus” as his final words.
Searches for Chandra Levy
Code red virusattacks computers around the world. Users search for “aaliyah” as fans remember the young singer.
Patriotism grips the country following the tragedy as the nation searches for “american flag“. Top Google Image searches related to the tragedy
Life goes on with the World Series.
Top Retailers
1. best buy
2. circuit city
3. walmart
4. toys r us
World pays tribute to passing of rock n’ roll legend, george harrison.

Top translations for JRR Tolkien’s classic – 2001
     1. lord of the rings
     2. herr der ringe
     3. le seigneur des anneaux

 2002 Google Zeitgeist

The 2002 end of the year search trends report told us instead that “spiderman” became more popular as a rising search than the seer from the year before.  “Shakira” and several other celebrities dominated the top 20 list including the top male “eminem” who replaced the man who some thought could predict the future.  Maybe “nostradamus” could have been a good Google Zeitgeist consultant.  We wouldn’t have to wait until the end of the year to find out the results.

          2. shakira
       3. winter olympics
       4. world cup
       5. avril lavigne
       6. star wars
       7. eminem
       8. american idol
       9. morrowind
     10. warcraft 3
     11. natalie portman
     12. dungeon siege
     13. trillian
     14. las ketchup
     15. neverwinter nights
     16. battlefield 1942
     17. pink
     18. gareth gates
     19. loft story 2
     20. ikea

2002 also brought about an additional perspective of looking at the trends internationally:

United Kingdom

Top Women
     1. britney spears
     2. kylie minogue
     3. holly valance
     4. kelly brook
     5. katie price
     6. shakira
     7. jennifer lopez
     8. sarah michelle gellar
     9. anna kournikova
   10. nell mcAndrew
Most Popular Queries
     1. bbc
     2. big brother
     3. easyjet
     4. britney spears
     5. ryanair
     6. gareth gates
     7. weather
     8. kylie minogue
     9. world cup
   10. holly valance
Top Men
     1. gareth gates
     2. david beckham
     3. eminem
     4. orlando bloom
     5. brad pitt
     6. ja rule
     7. nelly
     8. josh hartnett
     9. michael owen
   10. will young


Top Celebrities
     1. britney spears
     2. shakira
     3. jennifer lopez
     4. vanessa demouy
     5. alyssa milano
     6. loana
     7. kylie minogue
     8. pamela anderson
     9. bob marley
   10. mylene farmer
Most Popular Queries
     1. sncf
     2. meteo
     3. anpe
     4. fnac
     5. loft story
     6. immobilier
     7. sms gratuit
     8. britney spears
     9. michelin
   10. horoscope
Top Brands
     1. sncf
     2. wanadoo
     3. michelin
     4. air france
     5. sfr
     6. ferrari
     7. degriftour
     8. sony
     9. carrefour
   10. orange


Most Popular Queries
     1. Lastminute
     2. Ryanair
     3. Aldi
     4. Herr der Ringe
     5. Euro
     6. Deutsche Bahn
     7. Moorhuhn
     8. Tchibo
     9. Mallorca
   10. Loveparade
Top Auto Manufacturers
     1. BMW
     2. Ferrari
     3. Audi
     4. VW
     5. Porsche
     6. Mercedes
     7. Ford
     8. Peugeot
     9. Renault
   10. Honda
Top Musicians / Groups
     1. Shakira
     2. Jennifer Lopez
     3. Britney Spears
     4. No Angels
     5. Sarah Connor
     6. Eminem
     7. Kylie Minogue
     8. 2pac
     9. Anastacia
   10. Aaliyah


Top Women
  1. 乙葉 (Otoha)
  2. 市川由衣 (Yui Ichikawa)
  3. 井川遥 (Haruka Igawa)
  4. 吉岡美穂 (Miho Yoshioka)
  5. 小池栄子 (Eiko Koike)
  6. 優香 (Yuuka)
  7. 北島美穂 (Miho Kitajima)
  8. 長谷川京子 (Kyouko Hasegawa)
  9. 仲根かすみ (Kasumi Nakane)
10. 伊藤美咲 (Misaki Itou)
Popular Queries
     1. 2ch
     2. 壁紙 (wallpaper)
     3. 地図 (maps)
     4. 翻訳 (translation)
     5. 着メロ (ringing tones)
     6. ADSL
     7. 郵便番号 (postal codes)
     8. 辞書 (dictionary)
     9. 懸賞 (sweepstakes)
   10. 宝くじ (lottery)
Top Men
  1. Gackt
  2. ベッカム (Beckham)
  3. 中田英寿 (Hidetoshi Nakata)
  4. 金城武 (Takeshi Kaneshiro)
  5. 藤木直人 (Naoto Fujiki)
  6. 稲本潤一 (Junichi Inamoto)
  7. 押尾学 (Manabu Oshio)
  8. イチロー (Ichiro)
  9. 鈴木宗男 (Muneo Suzuki)
10. 中村俊輔 (Shunsuke Nakamura)

The 2002 list spread out over the year: 

On January 1, 2002, euro banknotes and coins were put into circulation in Europe.

curling v. hockey v. figure skating

Users search for national geographic after the magazine locates the Afghan girl, who was subject of famed cover photo 18 years ago.


Top Tax Queries
     1. irs
     2. tax forms
     3. irs forms
     4. turbotax
     5. 1040

Top Soccer Players
        1. david beckham
        2. ronaldo
        3. michael owen
        4. oliver kahn
        5. francesco totti

The Tour de Francedominates searches throughout Europe.

The Anna Nicole Smith show has the biggest premiere of any cable show.


During the months of their premieres, there were 42% more searches for “Friends” than for “Survivor.”
Halloween searches in Germany were nearly five times more than Spain, three times more than the UK, and two times more than France.



Users around the world search for “david beckham rumors” as rumors circulate about the English soccer star.
January February March April May June July August September October November December

Top Olympians
1. anni friesinger
2. michelle kwan
3. jamie sale
4. sarah hughes
5. kari traa
The Oscars are the top gaining query for the month.

French users search for “elections presidentielles” as Jean-Marie Le Pen upset Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and qualified to face French President Jacques Chirac in the runoff for presidency.

Controversial Dutch politician
Pim Fortuyn is murdered a week before national elections.
The world cup becomes the most popular sports event of the year and the term was the third most popular query overall for the month of June.
Spain and Morocco feud over possession of Isla Perejil, a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea.    

German users search for “hochwasser,” the German translation for “flood”, as the waters rise around Dresden.

Users around the world remember the events of September 11, 2001.

Users search for information about the sniper scare in the Washington, D.C. area.

Top Thanksgiving Queries
1. thanksgiving recipes
2. pumpkin pie
3. turkey recipes
4. green beans
5. mashed potatoes
Top Retailers
December 2002
     1. amazon
     2. best buy
     3. walmart
     4. ikea
     5. toys r us

2003 Google Zeitgeist

Eminem continue to be the most popular male search trend of the year, but “britney spears” overtook all the phrases to be the hottest search trend in the upward direction in 2003’s examination of the top search trends:

Popular Queries
     1. britney spears
     2. harry potter
     3. matrix
     4. shakira
     5. david beckham
     6. 50 cent
     7. iraq
     8. lord of the rings
     9. kobe bryant
   10. tour de france

And this year also included the knowledge that many people should acknowledge when it comes to search, but images are what many people are looking for when they search.

Image Search

Popular Men
     1. eminem
     2. david beckham
     3. orlando bloom
     4. justin timberlake
     5. 50 cent
     6. tupac
     7. brad pitt
     8. johnny depp
     9. marilyn manson
   10. vin diesel
Popular Women
     1. britney spears
     2. jennifer lopez
     3. pamela anderson
     4. christina aguilera
     5. angelina jolie
     6. shakira
     7. avril lavigne
     8. anna kournikova
     9. beyonce
   10. cameron diaz
Popular Fictional Characters – 2003
     1. simpsons
     2. harry potter
     3. pokemon
     4. spiderman
     5. winnie the pooh
     6. hello kitty
     7. snoopy
     8. south park
     9. superman
   10. spongebob
Popular Anime Searches
     1. manga
     2. final fantasy
     3. sailor moon
     4. yu-gi-oh
     5. dragonball z
     6. inuyasha
     7. goku
     8. beyblade
     9. zelda
   10. digimon

2004 Google Zeitgeist

“Britney Spears” reigned as the top search trend for two years in a row in 2004.  Along with Britney, several other women dominated the top keyword trends (in 2004) including “paris hilton” (#2), “christina aguilera” (#3), “pamela anderson” (#4) and “carmen electra” (#7).

Popular Queries
     1. britney spears
     2. paris hilton
     3. christina aguilera
     4. pamela anderson
     5. chat
     6. games
     7. carmen electra
     8. orlando bloom
     9. harry potter
   10. mp3

This year though also gave the world an inside look to how google started to want searches to be divided into: globally vs. locally.

Google Local Search Queries

Top Hotel Chains
     1. holiday inn
     2. hampton inn
     3. marriott
     4. hilton
     5. days inn
     6. sheraton
     7. embassy suites
     8. motel 6
     9. residence inn
   10. fairfield inn
Popular Retail Chains
     1. walmart
     2. home depot
     3. best buy
     4. costco
     5. walgreen’s
     6. barnes & noble
     7. blockbuster video
     8. office depot
     9. kinko’s
   10. circuit city
Popular Health Services
     1. doctor
     2. hospital
     3. massage
     4. dentist
     5. yoga
Popular Sports Services
     1. ymca
     2. golf
     3. campground
     4. bowling
     5. marathon
Top Professional Services
     1. real estate
     2. attorney

2005 Google Zeitgeist – Top Gainers of 2005
1. Myspace
2. Ares
3. Baidu
4. wikipedia
5. orkut
6. iTunes
7. Sky News
8. World of Warcraft
9. Green Day
10. Leonardo da Vinci

2006 Google Zeitgeist – Top Searches in 2006
  1. bebo
  2. myspace
  3. world cup
  4. metacafe
  5. radioblog
  6. wikipedia
  7. video
  8. rebelde
  9. mininova
10. wiki

2007 Google Zeitgeist

Even though previous years would break out searches examining them from specific countries, this year, Google divides the top 10 list  in 2007 between the U.S. and the world.

Fastest Rising (global)

  1. iphone
  2. badoo
  3. facebook
  4. dailymotion
  5. webkinz
  6. youtube
  7. ebuddy
  8. second life
  9. hi5
  10. club penguin

Fastest Rising (U.S.)

  1. iphone
  2. webkinz
  3. tmz
  4. transformers
  5. youtube
  6. club penguin
  7. myspace
  8. heroes
  9. facebook
  10. anna nicole smith

The list was also broken into different quarters of the year (for US Searches):

2007 also allowed Google to identify the top questions on peoples’ minds.

Who is…

  1. who is god
  2. who is who
  3. who is lookup
  4. who is jesus
  5. who is it
  6. who is buckethead
  7. who is calling
  8. who is keppler
  9. who is this
  10. who is satan

What is…

  1. what is love
  2. what is autism
  3. what is rss
  4. what is lupus
  5. what is sap
  6. what is bluetooth
  7. what is emo
  8. what is java
  9. what is hpv
  10. what is gout

How to…

  1. how to kiss
  2. how to draw
  3. how to knit
  4. how to hack
  5. how to dance
  6. how to crochet
  7. how to meditate
  8. how to flirt
  9. how to levitate
  10. how to skateboard

2008 Google Zeitgeist

In 2008, Google just placed the top search trends list as one list representing the globe:

Fastest Rising (Global)

  1. sarah palin
  2. beijing 2008
  3. facebook login
  4. tuenti
  5. heath ledger
  6. obama
  7. nasza klasa
  8. wer kennt wen
  9. euro 2008
  10. jonas brothers

At the same time, the data for the U.S. was available as well as many other countries too.  The examination of the trends relating to questions or “top of mind” were continued along with other groupings: politics (searches), trendsetters (social networks, cocktails, comfort foods, DIY for example), showbiz (searches), and sports (searches).

2009 Google Zeitgeist

Google’s annual report on the top search trends in 2009 saw the death of a pop icon surge to the top:

Fastest Rising (Global)

  1. michael jackson
  2. facebook
  3. tuenti
  4. twitter
  5. sanalika
  6. new moon
  7. lady gaga
  8. windows 7
  10. torpedo gratis

It also added some trends analysis with searches “around the home” and examined searches “city by city.”

2010 Google Zeitgeist

We actually wrote in detail about the 2010 Google Zeitgeist last year, but it wasn’t a popular post.  Nevertheless, 2010 continued to show the trends globally:

Searches in other languages started to enter into the top 10 lists that were normally dominated by searches in English including:


2011 Google Zeitgeist

(*Most likely, this url for 2011’s Google Zeitgeist will change into 2012’s version of the Zeitgeist, but for now, the 2011 list resides here.)  A big unknown ended up topping the list with her attempt to become a pop star:

  1. Rebecca Black
  2. Google+
  3. Ryan Dunn
  4. Casey Anthony
  5. Battefield 3
  6. iPhone 5
  7. Adele
  8. 東京 電力 [(TEPCO) Fukushima I Plant damaged in the 2011 Japanese Earthquake\]
  9. Steve Jobs
  10. iPad2

And Apple continued to be the fancy of many tech and design lovers helping bolster the stock price to approximately $405 (one of the highest valuations of the company in it’s history).

Our Predictions for 2012’s Google Zeitgeist

We believe Apple’s products include the release of the iPhone 5 will continue to dominate the trends.  The stock price of the company has inflated to as high as $665/share and the company is valued at over $500 billion dollars.  Yet, the price over earnings is still only at a minimal 12 despite the valuation.  The company has taken over many forms of communication and doesn’t appear to have a significant rival minus Samsung which lost in court against the tech behemoth.



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