Google Trends: A Year in Search

Category: Tech & Innovation
14 Dec 2021
Read time: 4 MIN
At the close of every year, Google releases their annual trends data for the most searched terms that year. As the most frequented search engine across the globe, it’s a valuable insight into the questions that dominate our time.
Written By
Melissa Byleveld

We use Google at work, at home, on holiday, at our local pub – basically anywhere we are and for anything we’re wondering about. What’s clear is that we don’t just use Google to search for goods and services we want to buy, we use it to find answers to the things we care deeply about. As well as, predictably, for a whole host of weird and wonderful thoughts that float across our heads during the day. 

The resulting data gives a unique insight not just into consumer behaviour and the trends we can pursue commercially, but also into the psychology of our audiences, and ourselves, that we can use to develop brand identities and guide our content. 

We analysed insights from Google’s “A Year in Search” for key takeaways that will shape branding strategies and subsequent content marketing for high-end and premium brands in 2022.

How can brands leverage this information?

Upon the launch of a new enterprise, we put great effort into creating a customer persona, or envisioning our target market, but how many revisit this on a regular basis?  

By using these insights into searcher behaviour, we can set the tone for delivering content people want, design websites to suit their mentality and build relationships with the people we want to reach. We can do this because we know what they care about. 

Weaving these into a robust content strategy, that is optimised with additional research, is the way to not just to reach screens, but the hearts and minds of the people who give power to the brands they are loyal to.

These insights could factor into tone of voice guidelines for copywriters, inform some of the decisions on content creation, provide inspiration for loyalty programmes and could even be leveraged into brand messaging.

What was important to the world in 2021?

1. We’re looking for ways to heal

Globally, the phrase “how to heal” reached record highs in 2021, followed by “how to take care of your mental health”, “how to honour someone” and “how to find your purpose”. The isolation and loss of the past two years has left people looking inwards more than ever. 

In 2022, authenticity and a brand ethos that is about harmony, both with who you are and the wider world will be increasingly important. A holistic approach to the content you create can be a valuable tool— it shows that the people behind your brand have compassion and are in touch with their audience. 

It’s also valuable to highlight your company values in this regard and contributions to your community, sharing your philanthropic achievements and how your brand practices the company ethos. 

During the height of the pandemic, brands that were quick to meet the demands of the moment and supported their local community, as well as their internal staff, earned a loyal following in return. This is something that can continue post-pandemic as well.


2. We want content that suits our priorities

People moving house in 2021 were more likely to search for “moving with plants” than moving with kids and pets. Instagram was awash with photos of foliaged living spaces and plant swaps became a frequent feature of facebook feeds. 

This is partly due to the fact that young people are putting off starting families until later in life than previous generations. In an age where people are also renting longer, spending more time indoors and becoming increasingly aware of their health, house plants provide an ideal solution to all of these concerns.

The millennial and Z generation (who are forecast to make up 45% of the global luxury goods market by 2025) don’t have time to garden on the weekend. But they still want to enjoy a low maintenance way to connect with nature. 

This speaks to wanting a life that is comfortable but compact and suits a busy schedule. Our content should be in touch with this– optimised for smaller devices for when we’re on the go, snappy and to the point, as well as reflective of this mindset.


3. We want to protect the climate

This year, the pressure was really on to get serious about committing to protecting our planet, with actionable changes.

It will be a non-negotiable in 2022 to show improvements in supply chains, transparency over sourcing of raw materials and how you’re off-setting your carbon footprint. 

The content you create can support this, again highlighting partnerships with environmental organisations and keeping followers updated with any changes you intend to make, like tracking your progress towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, as cemented at COP26. 

The luxury consumer is increasingly discerning over sustainable alternatives and there’s now a multitude of ways this can be built into the design of your website.


4. We care about global issues

We searched for “how to help palestine”, “how to help texas” and “vaccination volunteer” in a philanthropic outreach like never before in 2021.

A side-effect of the pandemic has been the increase in digital literacy for tech tools that connect us, from social media to Zoom, that has bolstered the ability of news to travel globally and go viral. 

The fact that almost every corner of the globe has access to smartphones, means that sharing information is easy from anywhere and what’s more, easily shareable onwards. Because of this, the general consensus is that we should be informed about world issues and that we should be making steps to lend assistance. 

Much like with environmental issues, people want to see the brands they frequent as having their ear to the ground about the happenings in the world.


5. We want autonomy

The world searched for “how to start a business” more than “how to get a job” in 2021. 

With the ability to work from anywhere and the rise of digital business, such as apps and social media influencers, not to mention online learning programs to make it accessible to learn the skills necessary, there has never been more people turning self-employed. Particularly for the millennial generation, this is seen not just as something to aspire to, but something that is entirely feasible. 

Having control over our workday and how we spend our time is not just still attractive, but now seems attainable. The majority of workplaces are now flexible, with the option to choose where you were from and to some extent the hours of the day. 

Brands that give their clients control over what they buy (and how they buy it, through Paypal/Klarna/Google pay) are rewarded with loyal followers. Giving  users the power to select what products they love and want more of, as well as the ability to personalise these wherever possible is another way to increase interaction with your brand.

What does this mean for your branding and content strategy?

What’s clear is that we use search for a multitude of purposes well beyond the transactional. We use it to partake in community, to contribute and to ask questions we don’t have someone to direct to in our social circles (or don’t want to be judged for). 

Our product pages should show our sensitivity, our blogs should highlight our contributions to the community and answer practical concerns, our about sections should outline where we stand on the issues our clients care about and our social media accounts should be places where our audience can make their opinions heard. 

Above all, we need to take the time to get to know our followers, where they’re at right now and meet their needs. Doing so will enable us to better craft the long term relationships brands need for success.

Published by Melissa Byleveld

Head of Search

Combining her experience in journalism, research, design and digital marketing, Melissa works with brands to create content strategies that work as well for website audiences as they do for search engines.

Strategy & Insights
Tech & Innovation