Google Zeitgeist list reveals most popular searches in 2012

12 Dec 2012

Rapper Psy's Gangnam Style video was the second most popular trending search term this year on Google

Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style, iPad 3, Jeremy Lin and Hurricane Sandy – Google has revealed the most popular searches and search trends of the year via its 2012 Zeitgeist list.

Announcing its 12th annual Zeitgeist listing, Google said there were some 1.2trn searches in 146 languages across the search engine in 2012.

Yesterday, Google announced its Zeitgeist list for Ireland, with Euro 2012 topping the overall trending search terms this year.

So what were the most popular search terms in 2012? Google said ‘trending’ queries relate to the searches that had the highest amount of traffic in a sustained period during the year.

Her unexpected death last February resulted in singer Whitney Houston becoming the top trending search term of 2012. This was followed by the YouTube sensation Gangnam Style in second place. Hurricane Sandy, iPad 3, Diablo 3 and Kate Middleton made up the remaining top 5 trending searches.

Top 10 trending search terms in 2012 on Google:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. Hurricane Sandy
  4. iPad 3
  5. Diablo 3
  6. Kate Middleton
  7. Olympics 2012
  8. Amanda Todd
  9. Michael Clarke Duncan
  10. BBB12

    Felix Baumgartner
    Felix Baumgartner

As for globally trending people, skydiver and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner became the sixth globally trending person as a result of his freefall of more than 39,000 metres in October.

Top 10 trending people in 2012:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Kate Middleton
  3. Amanda Todd
  4. Michael Clarke Duncan
  5. One Direction
  6. Felix Baumgartner
  7. Jeremy Lin
  8. Morgan Freeman
  9. Joseph Kony
  10. Donna Summer

The US basketball player Jeremy Lin was the most-searched for athlete followed by the most decorated Olympian of all time – retired swimmer Michael Phelps.

Google Zeitgeist

As for the top searches in Google Images, photos of the boy band One Direction were in strong demand, with the group making it to the top of the list. The boys were followed by image searches for the singer and actress Selena Gomez, with searches for the iPhone 5 coming in third position.

In the consumer electronics listing, the iPad 3 was the most searched-for term, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPad Mini.

Top 10 trending consumer electronics in 2012:

  1. iPad 3
  2. Samsung Galaxy S3
  3. iPad Mini
  4. Nexus 7
  5. Galaxy Note 2
  6. Play Station
  7. iPad 4
  8. Microsoft Surface
  9. Kindle Fire
  10. Nokia Lumia 920

As for film searches, The Hunger Games topped the list, followed by Skyfall and Prometheus.

The official Google Zeitgeist website is now live for people to explore the most popular search terms from around the world in 2012. It features 838 lists from 55 countries.

The site also features an interactive map so people can look at where and when some of the hottest terms spiked around the globe.

Psy photo via s_bukley/

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic