The 5 Most Searched Phrases on Google

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Google searches typically trend in the direction of current events, but top Google searches over time reveal just as much about how people use the Internet as what topics are trending. Essentially, the Internet—and most particularly Google, the Internet’s most popular search engine—is a font of information where people go to find out where to buy things, how to use them and what’s happening with people they’re interested in. Fortunately, Google is transparent with their search results and have been tracing top searches since 2004.

5 Martini

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Google has become a go-to site for recipe searches, either of the food or drink variety. Out of all recipes one could search for, the martini consistently wins out over other cocktails like mint juleps and bloody Marys. One of the reasons for this might be the extensive variations on the martini that are available: dry, Gibson, dirty or vodka, among dozens of other options. Another reason may lie in the martini’s status as the pop culture cocktail of the last century. Movies like 2012’s “Skyfall” or television and book references may regularly revive interest in this particular cocktail.

4 Oprah

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Searches related to Oprah like, “What is Oprah’s middle name?” and “How much is Oprah worth?”—the answer is a lot—spiked in 2011 when “The Oprah Winfrey Show” aired its last season. However, even before that, Oprah was consistently the most-Googled business person by far, even more so than Donald Trump. Now that her talk show is over, Oprah still dominates the Google searches in her category, even gaining in searches during 2012. Perhaps Oprah is creating her own “Oprah Effect” on Google.

3 William Shakespeare

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Writers EL James and Dan Brown only wish they had the popularity of William Shakespeare, who’s been the most search-for author on Google ever since 2004. And not by a little bit, either; Shakespeare receives far more searches than his nearest competitors, usually a toss-up between Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. He receives more hits than even British football team Manchester United. Why the perennial popularity of this centuries-dead poet? Are people searching for his books online, to find out about the controversy over his identity or simply to fact-check Shakespeare quotes? Probably a combination of all three.

2 Michael Jordan

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Michael Jordan receives an insane number of search hits. He’s been not only the top basketball player searched for since 2004, but is also consistently the top athlete. Not bad for a player who’s actually retired. In fact, since 2009, Jordan’s search index has only been going up. This likely coincides with his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, followed by his 50th birthday. Jordan is so popular on the Internet and receives so many search hits, his name is used as a test of search result relevancy as opposed to popularity.

1 Dog

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Cats may rule the internet, but when it comes to Google searches, dogs are always more popular. Ever since Google started tracking searches back in 2004, searches for “dog” and dog-related phrases like “dog names” have crushed similar searches for other animals such as cats, horses, fish or chickens on an annual basis. Google is a gateway to finding out where to get dogs, what to name them and how to play with them.

Tasha Brandstatter is an art historian and writer. She is a contributor to Book Riot, Food Riot, a media critic with the Pueblo PULP, and a regular contributor to History Colorado. She has a M.A. in art history.

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