Google Search

What were consumers most interested in last year? The top Google searches of 2021, an annual compilation from the search giant, gives us some valuable insights into the topics and trends that dominated consumer culture.

Google provides an entire mini-site of these insights to explore. In Year in Search from Google Trends, you can explore:

  • A trending search list for the entire world, as well as for 68 different countries.
  • Search trends across 9 categories including Entertainment, News & Events, and Health & Wellness.
  • World events that inspired particular types of searches by month.
  • And, a lot more.

Google explains, “In a year in which the world continued to face a devastating pandemic among other global challenges, a theme emerged from the search data: the global pursuit of healing and finding a way forward.”

Let’s take a look at the top Google searches of 2021, how or if the coronavirus pandemic impacted these searches, and how you can put these insights to work in your brand’s marketing and SEO.

Top U.S. Searches Shed Light On An Unusual Year For Consumers

Google highlights several topic categories on its main ‘Year in Search 2021’ page including news, movies, memes, and celebrities searched together. A few of these lists that may be of particular interest to U.S. brands, depending on vertical, include:

Top 10 ‘Near Me’ Google Searches

Top 7 Sustainable Products Searches

Top 7 ‘How To Help” Searches

Top U.S. Health & Wellness Search Trends of 2021

Google reveals that searches for “affirmations” hit an all-time high in 2021, which is not surprising given the increased focus consumers placed on health and happiness during lockdowns at home.

“Whether searches were personal (like ‘how to recover from burnout’ or ‘how to maintain mental health’) or related to issues like climate change (‘impact of climate change, ‘how to conserve’), 2021 was a year of seeking out reassessment, reflection, and growth,” Google notes in its methodology documentation.

Another popular search term that set record highs in 2021 was “soulmate,” indicating that the need for human connection has never been greater. This comes as no surprise amid the coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent impacts over the past several years. Other search queries that spiked last year include:

  • How to maintain mental health
  • When can I get a COVID booster
  • Women’s health
  • Mammography

Top Employment Google Searches of 2021

Personal and digital-financial topics were on the minds of many Americans this past year, as well. Google reveals that global searches for “how to start a business” surpassed “how to get a job” in 2021. It’s an employee’s market and “The Great Pause” that is the pandemic has many rethinking how they balance work and life.

Economic concerns were wide-ranging as work interruptions and supply chain issues drove both reduced incomes for some and increasing prices at the gas pumps and tills for many. In fact, Google reports that “how to ask for a raise” was the top “how to” query of the year.

In September, “why are people quitting their jobs” began trending in the U.S., alongside “back to work bonus.”

Employers looking to hire in the current market must keep these ongoing trends and concerns in mind in order to craft the most competitive packages, attract high-quality candidates, and job postings.

Using Google Search Insights To Drive Content & Marketing Strategy

How can you put search insights to work to inform content and marketing campaigns that will better resonate with the needs of today’s consumers? Try these tips.

1. Keep in mind that Google Trends reflect the most popular queries on this search engine.

These are likely to be more competitive. Try to find longer-tail keyword terms to target in your content by tackling one specific angle of the topic or personalizing your content to one type of reader per piece of content.

For example, “bars near me” was #4 on Google’s list of the top “near me” searches and therefore is going to be the most competitive term for bars in any neighborhood. Your brand could focus on long-tail terms that are more descriptive and appeal to specific types of searchers instead, such as:

  • Bars for local singles
  • Top cocktail bars
  • Bars with games
  • Bars with live music
  • Local sports bars

Remember, too, that Google is not the only search engine. Although it has a large market share, you’ll want to do keyword research for Bing, and maybe worthwhile looking at other search engines and engagement platforms if you are marketing internationally.

2. Use both Google Trends and Autocomplete suggestions for inspiration.

Google Trends provides its insights using anonymized, categorized, normalized data from actual search traffic. Autocomplete suggestions (the predicted text suggestions you see when typing in a search query) are based on common queries and also factor in your location and search history. You’ll get different types of insights from each one and can use both as part of your content ideation process.

Check different types of searches, as well. See what news searches are hot and then research keyword ideas around those topics, taking monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, and other metrics into account.

3. Use Google Trends for topic clusters.

Topic clusters are various pieces of content all relevant to one main topic and linked to from one main topic page. Use trending topics as your main focus, then see how many relevant intersections you can find between that topic and your business and customer’s needs to inform new articles or blog posts in that cluster.

For example, “stimulus check” was one of the top search queries in the U.S. for all of 2021, according to Google. A financial services brand might find that there are several desirable long-tail search terms related to the main topic that could both interest readers and serve their business goals, such as:

  • Stimulus check alternatives
  • Loans for stimulus check advance
  • Maximizing stimulus check budget
  • Where to cash stimulus check

Each of these could become a standalone blog post that is interlinked with the main “stimulus check” page.

The above is current related queries trending for the term “stimulus check”.

4. Ensure that your Google Business Profile optimizations and Posts align with consumer trends.

Use these broad insights on consumer motivations and concerns to inform optimizations and Google Posts that could help your brand’s locations stand out in competitive local search results. Specific attributes are available to different primary categories; for example, the attributes for financial services profiles differ somewhat from those designed for Google Business Profiles for restaurants.

Attributes appear prominently on your business listings, and Posts can add interesting, engaging content. Each Post can have a CTA, as well, making it an effective way to drive traffic to a landing page, offer, event page, etc. Download your free Google Posts 101 ebook to learn more about putting this innovative content type to work for your local search presence.

Stay On Top of Search Trends for Ongoing Consumer Insights

Consumer behavior has never changed faster or more often than over these past couple of years. Rapidly advancing digital technologies and a worldwide pandemic converged to disrupt our lives and economy – and business plans – in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined just a few short years ago.

Today, keeping a finger on the pulse of local consumers wherever you hope to connect with them is essential. That’s why we analyze the local search performance metrics of over 200,000 business locations across the U.S. each month and share those trends, as well.