2020: The Story of an Unprecedented Year, Told Through Google

2020: The Story of an Unprecedented Year, Told Through Google

So, 2020 was, um…interesting.

With the new year now in full swing, today, we’re daring to look back at the unparalleled year we’ve left behind. In a time that forced us all to stay indoors and, as a result, saw more of us using the internet than ever before, there’s perhaps no greater insight into our thoughts, feelings and desires than that of our Google searches.

Now, don’t worry – we’re not about to start trawling through your browsing history! Instead, we’re taking a look at Google’s 2020 In Review, delving deeper into the most searched topics, terms and phrases to better understand the story of 2020 as told by each and every one of you.

Current events

With so much history taking place, it will come as little surprise to learn that current events dominated online search queries throughout the year.

Coronavirus was the main focus of these terms, proving to be the year’s most commonly searched query. Expectedly, the surge in COVID-19 searches aligned with the UK’s initial lockdown in March, with popularity continuing consistently throughout the year. Indeed, as 2020 progressed, the popularity of related terms also began to peak – including substantial search activity around ‘coronavirus symptoms’, ‘coronavirus stats’ and ‘Eat Out to Help Out’.

Although Brexit dominated much of the political discourse in 2019, the topic failed to reach the same popularity in search throughout 2020, instead only experiencing a peak in activity in December as the withdrawal date began drawing ever closer.

Despite taking place across the pond, the US election and the debacle that accompanied it proved to be the second most popular topic of search in the UK throughout the year. Despite this, neither candidate made it into the most commonly searched celebrities of the year, being pipped to the post by the likes of Tom Hanks, Phillip Schofield and, of course, the iconic rival duo of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.

Questions and tutorials

With so much drama in the world, it’s only natural that we were very inquisitive in 2020.

With the continued impact of online disinformation clear for all to see, and following a rather ‘unprecedented’ reaction to an election loss, ‘who won the election’ came out as the most commonly searched question in 2020, even surpassing questions relating to the pandemic.

The pandemic did inspire the most popular ‘how to…’ and ‘when…’ queries, though, as we all looked to adjust to 2020’s ‘new norm’. With safety and hygiene dominating much of the discourse this year, it’s unsurprising to see ‘how to make a face mask’ and ‘how to make hand sanitiser’ come out on top as the year’s most common ‘how to’ queries.

Having spent the majority of the year in some form of lockdown, timelines were understandably a pressing issue for many, with ‘when will lockdown end’, ‘when will gyms reopen’, ‘when will schools reopen’ and ‘when does furlough end’ all proving common searches throughout the year. Although the end of lockdown has been on the mind of Google searchers since March, they also looked to adapt to it throughout the year, with queries such as ‘how to make bread’ and ‘how to cut your own hair’ proving uniquely popular.


This do-it-yourself mentality was a clear trend across the board, too. With Brits across the nation spending more time indoors than ever before, many turned to interior renovations – whether that was a result of boredom, or simply being unable to ignore that long-neglected home project any longer.

With this in mind, ‘DIY shops’, ‘DIY click and collect’ and ‘DIY garden ideas’ were among the year’s most popular shopping-based searches, as homeowners sought materials, tools and inspiration.

Elsewhere, delivery-related shopping queries predictably experienced a huge surge in 2020. ‘Meat delivery’, ‘supermarket delivery’ and ‘fruit and veg delivery’ were among the most popular shopping searches, as Brits looked to adapt their food shopping habits to lockdown. This wasn’t before sorting their main priority first, though: in typically British fashion, ‘afternoon tea delivery’ and ‘wine delivery’ proved the most popular delivery queries of the year.

We’re not the first to call 2020 ‘unprecedented’ (and we hate to break it to you, but we certainly won’t be the last), and for good reason – as proven by the year’s search trends, 2020 was exactly that. After such an unpredictable year, we’d be foolish to stick our necks out and predict the search trends for the year ahead. Instead, we’re keeping one eye on Google, and the other eye on the ever-changing world around us.

To learn how Land Digital can help your business evolve and adapt to a constantly changing online landscape, get in touch today – we can’t wait to hear from you.

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