What we Googled in 2015
SAN FRANCISCO — Nothing gets people Googling quite like the passing of a celebrity. But in 2015, some of the most searched-for deaths in the U.S. weren’t famous people at all, but regular people who died while in police custody.
Google released its annual roundup of what the U.S. searched for this year. They aren’t the top searches by volume, but top “trending” searches, meaning they saw the biggest spikes. The list breaks out results by category, like people and natural events, including one just for “losses.”
People we lost
The third most searched for death was Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found hanging in her jail cell in July, three days after being arrested during a routine traffic stop. Freddie Gray, who died from spinal cord injuries while in police custody, was fourth on the list.
The passing of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristina topped the list, followed by longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott.
Biggest searches of the year
The most searched for topic overall wasn’t someone who died, though he came close. It was former basketball player and Keeping up with the Kardashians fixture Lamar Odom, who was found unconscious in a brothel in October.
Not all searches were morbid. The top trending searchers of the year were mostly on lighter topics.
1. Lamar Odom
2. Jurassic World
3. American Sniper
4. Caitlyn Jenner
5. Ronda Rousey
Breaking news stories
As big news stories unfolded, people went to Google for updates and answers. Google Trends dug into the top global stories this year, with an interactive graphic that looked at how the stories spread around the world and the most pressing questions people had about them.
Google’s biggest news story of the year was Paris. When terrorists attacked the French city on November 13, people around the world asked “What happened in Paris?” “Why did ISIS attack Paris?” and “Is it safe to travel to Paris?”
There were more than 897 million searches related to the Paris attack. By comparison, here are the other major stories we searched for and the top question for each.
The Oscars, 406 million (“What were the Oscar statuettes made of during World War II?)
Cricket World Cup, 323 million (“How many overs in a World Cup cricket match? “)
Nepal Earthquake, 85 million (“How can I donate to the Nepal earthquake?”)
Volkswagen emissions scandal, 13 million (“Who owns Volkswagen?”)
Water on Mars, 10 million (“How long does it take to get to Mars?”)
Google is where we go with the truly important life questions, and this year was no different. The most searched for question beginning with “What is…” was “What is 0 divided by 0?,” likely inspired by a sassy Siri Easter egg.
1. What is 0 divided by 0?
2. What is Ashley Madison?
3. What is a buckeye?
4. What is the Charlie Charlie Challenge? (Spoiler: An online game that may or may not summon demons.)
5. What is a lunar eclipse?
For better or worse, Google is also a popular first stop for looking up symptoms. In 2015, people were most worried about the flu, gallbladder infections, measles, listeria and sinus infections. Last year, the biggest health concern was Ebola.
Weight loss is another popular topic, as people searched for the calorie counts of their favorite unhealthy snacks.
Bad news: Taco Bell’s Grilled Stuft Nachos have 570 calories, and one slice of that Little Caesars bacon-wrapped deep dish pizza will cost you 450 calories. And for all of you who’ve eaten too many things wrapped in bacon, you’re not alone in searching for fad diets, like the 20/20 diet, Carb cycle diet, and Paleo diet.
Popular How Tos
One of the ten most Googled questions of the year was “How to lose 10 pounds in a week?” (A possible answer: Stop eating Grilled Stuft Nachos.) Tech help accounted for many of the other popular questions.
1. How to use the new Snapchat update
2. How to solve a Rubix Cube
3. How to get legendary marks (in the video game Destiny)
4. How to play Charlie Charlie
5. How to upgrade to Windows 10
6. How to get the new emojis
Politics, dogs, selfies
Google also looked at trending searches for sports, movies, and politics. It should come as no surprise that the top trending politician of 2015 is Donald Trump, followed by Bernie Sanders and Carly Fiorina. Deez Nuts, the 15-year-old who registered as an independent candidate for president, was sixth.
Our hunger for selfies continued in 2015, as we searched for self portraits of Malia Obama, Miss Lebanon and Al Roker.
Finally, our love for our pets got its own category. The most popular canine-related search was the eternal mystery, “Why do dogs wag their tails?”