Google has released its top search terms for 2021, giving us a little glimpse into what the UK has had on its mind over the past 12 months.
As Google News Labs head Matt Cooke puts it, the top search terms provide “insights into the zeitgeist of the nation”.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is only one search term related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the top 10 UK search terms. 2021’s top search terms were instead dominated by sport, with 5 of the top 10 relating to the Euros and the US Open.
This stands in stark contrast to 2020, where 3 of the top 5 most searched terms in the UK were coronavirus related, with the most searched term of that year being ‘coronavirus’.
The most searched term of 2021? “Euros” – suggesting the nation has turned to sport as a welcome diversion this year.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 UK search terms in 2021.
Even if you don’t follow football, you likely heard just how close England came to winning the tournament this year.
After being delayed for a year, Euro 2020 kicked off in June and saw the Three Lions face Italy in the tense final in July.
This was the furthest the English team had made it in the Euros in 55 years, and though we narrowly missed out on the trophy after being beaten on penalties, it’s clear that the tournament captured the entire nation’s attention.
Not only was this the top search result for the UK, but the final also attracted a huge 31 million TV viewers.
The Premier League came in as the UK’s 2nd most popular Google search. 2021 saw the latter half of the 20-21 season and the beginning of the 21-22 season.
Though the 20-21 season faced disruption due to the pandemic and was largely played behind closed doors, the 21-22 season thus far has seen a return to the typical August-May schedule and has had full capacity crowds.
Liverpool were the defending champions of the 20-21 season, having won their first Premier League title in the 19-20 tournament.
Christian Eriksen was the 3rd most popular UK search. The 29-year-old Danish football player collapsed in the 42nd minute of the Denmark-Finland group stage match of the Euro 2020 tournament on 25 May 2021.
This was broadcast around the world and witnessed by millions of viewers in the UK, drawing much concern for Eriksen. It was later revealed that the player had suffered from a cardiac arrest.
After receiving urgent medical care and surgery, Eriksen is reported to have recovered and to be in good health.
Though featuring less than last year in the top search terms, of course COVID would make an appearance, as it (unfortunately) continues to be a big part of our lives.
Coming in as the 4th most popular UK search, the COVID vaccine has been big news this year.
To date, 51 million people have received their first dose and 46 million have received their second dose since the start of the vaccine rollout at the end of 2020.
Prince Philip was the UK’s fifth most popular search this year. The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully on 9 April 2021, two months before his 100th birthday.
Prince Philip was married to Queen Elizabeth for 73 years, making him the longest-serving royal consort in history. His passing was met with nationwide mourning and messages of support for his loved ones.
Coming in 6th is Matt Hancock. The former Health Secretary has had quite the year, going from the frontline of the UK government’s battle against the pandemic to being embroiled in a much-publicised scandal and eventually resigning from his position.
Footage showed Hancock breaching social distancing rules (to put it politely) with aide Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall office, inciting outrage and ridicule across the nation.
The UK’s 7th most popular search was tennis player Emma Raducanu. The 19-year-old made history this year, becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in 44 years.
Raducanu defeated 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the tense US Open final on 11 September.
Raducanu was just 18 years old at the time of the match, making her the youngest player to reach the final since Maria Sharapova in 2006.
Sarah Everard was the 8th most searched term in the UK this year. Everard’s murder at the hands of Met Police officer Wayne Couzens on 3 March 2021 shocked the nation and sparked debates about women’s safety.
33-year-old Everard was kidnapped after being arrested under false pretenses, with Couzens claiming she had breached COVID rules. Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for the crime on 30 September 2021.
England vs Denmark
In 9th place is England vs Denmark. The semi-final game of Euro 2020 saw England beat Denmark 2-1 to earn their place in the final against Italy.
The 7 July match had a climactic finish when Harry Kane scored the deciding goal in extra time. 66,000 fans watched the match at Wembley Arena, and a further 24 million viewers tuned in to ITV to watch the historic semi-final.
The UK’s 10th most popular search was Sean Lock. The beloved comedian passed away from cancer on 16 August 2021 at the age of 58.
A favourite on panel shows such as Channel 4’s 8 out of 10 Cats, Lock was known for his dry humour and deadpan style.
Tributes poured out, with fellow comedians praising Lock and fans sharing their favourite clips of the comedian from over the years.
2021 has certainly been an eventful year, and the top Google search terms reflect this. From sport to political scandals, UK searchers had a lot on their minds this year.
It’s interesting to note the prominence of sport in the top 10 search terms, particularly relative to 2020’s COVID-dominated list.
As Google’s Matt Cooke notes, the data suggests that UK searchers turned to sport and culture “during a year of unpredictability… to get us through some of the most frustrating and difficult times”.
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