The Best of Google Search Trends in 2021

Demi Newlands 15/12/2021 6 minutes

2021 has certainly been a challenging and unpredictable year for many. Demi, our Junior PPC Account Executive, has been looking into the top Google 2021 search trends of the year. From tackling climate change and managing mental health, to the UEFA championships and top Netflix drama series, Demi covers something for everyone – and it certainly gives you a trip down not-so-long-ago memory lane. 

Keyword research and looking at current search trends play a huge part in our day to day activities as Paid Media Executives. It allows us to see the topics that audiences are – and aren’t – searching for, as well as explore how needs are changing. 

It’s been really fascinating taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of trending search terms over 2021, and what really struck me is that people have been finding ways to come back stronger. Across the globe the term ‘how to heal’ has been searched for more than ever before. This may even be part of the reason that Cambridge Dictionary’s 2021 Word of the Year is ‘perseverance’

As a performance marketing agency, we’re always keen on seeing what keywords are driving results so, without further ado, let’s get into the juicy stuff.

January: Setting Affirmations for the New Year

‘New year, new me’. A phrase commonly uttered by many as the midnight countdown comes to a close. As 2021 sadly started in the midst of another lockdown, it’s no wonder that the term ‘affirmations’ was searched for this year more than ever before worldwide. Whether it’s to stop procrastination whilst working from home or to help smash all the new year goals, users were increasingly searching about why and how to set new affirmations. Even now in the UK, there are approximately 49,500 average monthly searches for this term. 

February: 2021 Texas Power Crisis

Back in February, three severe winter storms swept across the US and, as a result, Texas suffered a major power crisis. There was a shortage of water, food and heat, and more than 4.5 million homes and businesses were left without power. Following these hardships, the world came together and ‘how to help Texas’ became a breakout search worldwide. These blackouts in the US also meant that searches for ‘power outage’ increased by 5000% worldwide.

March: The Interview That Broke the Internet

We can’t forget one of the most captivating interviews of the year. The Meghan and Harry interview with Oprah left audiences fascinated, making it the most searched interview in Google Trends history. In fact, more than 12 million viewers tuned in to see it unfold in March, breaking ITV’s record for the biggest peak audience since the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Demand was so high that viewers even struggled to access the interview online!

April and May: Maintaining Mental Health and Rocking On

Putting mental health front of mind

April was Stress Awareness Month while May shared Mental Health Awareness Week. Given that this year, the world searched for ‘how to maintain mental health’ more than ever before, we think that the Stress Management Society and Mental Health Foundation certainly raised the profile of these important topics. With many of us still living with the effects of COVID-19, improving our mental health remains a priority for everyone.

Another standout term for 2021 was ‘doomscrolling’ which describes when we continuously scroll through bad news without the ability to step back. It’s a pretty sobering thought which I’m sure we can all relate to and the question is: has this impacted our mental health? Without a doubt digital platforms can contribute to damaging mental health, but we’re hopeful that they can also be used in a positive way. For example, search engines can be a source of comfort and valuable information for those seeking help with their mental wellbeing.  

At Passion we take this subject seriously. All Passionistas have access to our ‘Employee Assistance Programme’ (EAP) to help provide support with the challenges life throws at you and we also ran a fantastic content theme on mental health in April, as part of Stress Awareness Month.  

Måy-neskin taking over the world

With musicians from 30 countries competing in Eurovision this year, Måneskin – the Italian rock band who won Eurovision this year – was a breakout search in May, which explains our puntastic heading above. Hate it or love it, searches for the international song contest were actually three times higher than searches for ‘American Idol’ globally! The facts don’t lie…

Avg. Monthly Searches For ‘Måneskin’ Throughout 2021

June: The Mercury Retrograde

In astrology, all of the planets have regularly occurring retrograde periods, and each tends to shake up our lives a little and teach us lessons. This year, however, many of us seemed to be affected a little more than usual. This resulted in the term ‘what is retrograde’ being searched for more than ever before. Other social media platforms exploded with retrograde content too, with TikTok users recording 374.3 million views to date on mercury retrograde related videos. 

July: It Didn’t Come Home, It Made History!

As a result of Italy winning the UEFA European Championships, for the first time ever in trends history, ‘how many times has Italy won the euros’ trended globally in July. Searches for its victory slogan, ‘It’s coming Rome’, also spiked by 3,200%. 

Avg. Monthly Searches For ‘How Many Times Has Italy Won The Euros’ Throughout  2021

August: Back to 1999…

A lot of the well loved trends from the late 90s made a totally welcomed comeback this year. So much so that the term ‘y2k’ was searched more in 2021 than ever before! And in true 90s spirit, search interest for the term ‘y2k themed party’ increased by 4,700% this year. Cool, right?

Nostalgia is a theme that is set to continue as Millennials and Gen Z continue to seek solace in the familiar comfort of the past. What is interesting is the fact that Gen Z are reminiscent of things that happened before they were even born and, although these audiences often look at the past, they are equally interested in the future. Gen Z is an ambitious generation and 37% of them believe the most important thing a brand can do is to stand for something and be purposeful. The key for marketers to engage this generation is to combine being forward-thinking with that reassuring tone that comes about when looking through rose-tinted glasses at the past.  

September: Red Light… Green Light!

After the South Korean hit drama Squid Game took over Netflix – with a record breaking 86 million Netflix subscribers finishing the series – it should come as no surprise that Google searches for ‘red light green light’ and ‘honeycomb toffee’ reached a record high! If you were a fan of the series, why not check out this recipe and make some of your own delicious Dalgona candy.

It’s interesting to note the trends for searches for ‘recipe’ from March 2020. As you can see below, the peaks in search volume correspond with national lockdowns – a prize for anyone who didn’t make banana bread at that time. As well as soaring searches, getting busy in the kitchen also meant sales of flour went through the roof causing, at some points, shortages of the staple.

You can see that there have been peaks in 2021 for the term ‘recipe’ however it is much lower in comparison to March 2020. When the first lockdown was announced, it was a sort of novelty and the nation used the time to do fun things like bake, do online quizzes or – if you were like me – complete a Paint by Numbers! When the second lockdown in 2021 came about, it was much less exciting. People losing that infectious enthusiasm from lockdown could explain the lower search volume for ‘recipe’.

Search Trends for ‘Recipe’ March 2020 – December 2021

October: Making a Change

The world searched for the ‘impact of climate change’ more than ever this year. Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, ‘how does eating less meat help climate change’ and ‘is climate change caused by humans’ became breakout searches in the UK. As well as this, Google Earth helped us to bring the impacts of climate change to life through their 3D interactive globe that uses Maxar’s high-resolution satellites in space. 

Take a look at our October content theme ‘Unblocktober’ to refresh your sustainability knowledge ahead of 2022. 

It’s all very well knowing the year’s search trends, but it’s what marketing teams do with that information that can be truly wondrous. At Passion, we are constantly looking at search trends to inform campaign strategies. What users – or the audience we wish to target more specifically – search for can inform content strategies, paid media campaigns and even product or service launches. Using this data and our imagination, we are able to produce stand out strategies for our clients. Get in touch if you need an agency that can keep your brand involved in the important digital conversations.