14th January 2019

Top Google Search Trends of 2018

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Jamie Mitchell
Marketing Manager
Read time: 6min
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Well, we’re just over a week into the New Year and there’s been plenty of hot topics to talk about in the mainstream media already; Brexit, the Golden Globes, Dancing on Ice, Liverpool’s opportunity to win a Premier League title, the U.S. Government shutdown and Donald Trump in general…

All these topics will undoubtedly have high search volumes, but what were the top search trends in 2018? A year dominated by huge events including the World Cup and Royal Wedding, the Commonwealth Games and Mid-term elections. We roundup Google’s top search trends for the UK and the United States.

Top Searches in the United Kingdom – 2018

  1. World Cup
  2. Meghan Markle
  3. Royal Wedding
  4. Black Panther
  5. Roxanne Pallett
  6. Fortnite
  7. Demi Lovato
  8. Ant McPartlin
  9. A Star Is Born
  10. Khloe Kardashian

England reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990 (talkSport).

No surprises here… Of course, the World Cup dominated the UK search trends, which isn’t exactly shocking considering England experienced their best run in 30 years! A summer many will never forget. This is followed closely by Meghan Markle and the Royal Wedding, another huge event that created an incredible buzz around the world. Other trends include the popular Marvel film – Black Panther, battle royale focused game Fortnite and Demi Lovato and Ant McPartlin, both of whom struggled with drug and alcohol dependency in 2018. Roxanne Pallett, who featured on Celebrity Big Brother and caused quite a bit of controversy, US TV personality Khloe Kardashian and the American Musical/Drama ‘A Star Is Born’, featuring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, also made it into the top spots.

Top ‘What is…?’ in the United Kingdom – 2018

  1. What is bitcoin?
  2. What is GDPR?                                                                          
  3. What is an ibex?
  4. What is a nerve agent? 
  5. What is the Commonwealth?
  6. What is Diwali?
  7. What is upskirting?
  8. What is the UEFA Nations League?
  9. What is the Brexit deal?
  10. What is Vero?

A visual representation of the online crypto-currency - Bitcoin.

The ‘What is…?’ trends list is as diverse as you’d expect, featuring everything from ‘what is bitcoin?' (the crypto-currency that saw its value skyrocket to over $20,000 before drastically crashing), to referencing the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Salisbury with ‘what is a nerve agent?’. Of course, the dreaded GDPR made the list too. Even I had to Google third ranked 'Ibex', and it turns out, an Ibex is a species of wild mountain goats, not sure why we were so interested in this, maybe there’s something I’ve missed – a David Attenborough special possibly?

‘What is the Commonwealth?’ searches were undoubtedly sparked by the Commonwealth Games in April, where our England netball team won Gold after beating Australia in the final seconds. Sitting in spot number six is the search ‘What is Diwali?’, which after Googling myself, I can tell you is the Hindu festival of lights. We’re not too sure whether to be concerned by the search trend that secured seventh place, it’s pretty self-explanatory isn’t it!? Anyway, it’s good that people are becoming informed on the issue.

I have some sympathy for those who searched ‘what is the Brexit deal?’, because to be honest I couldn’t tell you either, some say it’s good, some say it’s bad. All we know is it would be disastrous to leave the EU without one. It also appears not everyone in the UK was entirely sure what the UEFA Nations League is either, regardless, England are off to Portugal for another semi-final! Finally, ‘What is Vero?’ was tenth on the top ‘What is…?’ trends list. Vero is a social media platform where you can choose which posts get seen by who, supposedly making this a more natural experience – perhaps one to watch out for.

Top Searches in the United States – 2018

  1. World Cup
  2. Hurricane Florence
  3. Mac Miller
  4. Kate Spade
  5. Anthony Bourdain
  6. Black Panther
  7. Mega Millions Results
  8. Stan Lee
  9. Demi Lovato
  10. Election Result

 A very different list in comparison to UK 2018 search trends, though there are some similarities and the biggest surprise to me is that Donald Trump didn’t make the list. The World Cup once again holding the top search spot for 2018 in the United States, even though the nation failed to qualify for the tournament. Also sharing a spot on both lists include, Marvel film ‘Black Panther’, and Demi Lovato who survived an opioid overdose in July 2018. Hurricane Florence was a category 4 hurricane that killed 53 people in the Carolinas in September 2018 and caused tens of billions of dollars in damages, mainly because of flooding.


Several famous names made the list, unfortunately for the wrong reasons, American rapper and singer Mac Miller, who died of an overdose in September 2018, fashion designer Kate Spade who committed suicide in June and Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain who also committed suicide in June 2018. The death of comic book writer Stan Lee also sparked a huge spike in searches for the comic book legend.

On a more positive note, ‘Mega Millions Results’ managed to climb to seventh on the list after one lucky winner scooped the $1.5 billion jackpot in October 2018. ‘Election Results’ also found its way to the 10th spot on the list, it might have been a bit worrying had something political or election-related not made the top 10!

Top ‘What is…?’ in the United States - 2018

  1. What is Bitcoin?
  2. What is racketeering?
  3. What is DACA?
  4. What is a government shutdown?
  5. What is Good Friday?
  6. What is Prince Harry’s last name?
  7. What is Fortnite?
  8. What is a duck boat?
  9. What is a Yanny Laurel?
  10. What is a nationalist?                                   

You’re probably as confused as I am looking at this list… But we’ll start by stating that, just as it did in the UK, ‘What is Bitcoin?’ has claimed the top spot for ‘what is…?’ search trends in 2018. It appears that our friends across the pond were also particularly interested in finding out the definition of ‘racketeering’ – obtaining money or property through extortion. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is the immigration policy that allows children who arrived in the country illegally to become eligible for a work permit, but also deferred action from being deported, renewed every two years.

Since Trump has taken office, the US Government has been shutdown three times and is still currently shut down as I write this (becoming the longest government shutdown in history) over the funding for the border wall with Mexico, so unsurprisingly ‘what is a government shutdown?’ makes the fourth spot. The day commemorating Jesus’s crucifixion was the fifth most Googled ‘What is…?’ of 2018. U.S. fans of the Royal Family are doing their homework after Meghan Markle married the Duke of Sussex - Prince Harry, but they weren’t too sure what his surname is - though if you’re reading this and don’t know, it’s Windsor.

The popular battle royale video game Fortnite was also one of the top ‘What is…?’ searches in the US. The search ‘What is a duck boat?’ refers to the sinking of a duck boat in Missouri that killed 17 passengers on July 19th. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed – seeking $100 million in damages. We can relate to this next one as we even had the debate in the office, ‘What is Yanny Laurel?’ refers to the audio illusion that had some people hearing Yanny and others hearing Laurel, but we won’t get into that again… Finally, ‘what is a nationalist?’ secured the final spot of the top US ‘What is…?’ search trends, interesting considering the current political climate.

Anyway, check out Google Trends where you’ll find a lot more information on top search trends and you can even find data for specific searches. 




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Author Jamie Mitchell
Channel SEM