Google search trends in review: 2020

Lisa Iscrupe

Jan 7, 2021 — 2 min read

Before we put the crazy year behind us, we examine the tech topics that stood out in 2020.

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Although many of us spent most of 2020 staying close to home, so much happened in the past 12 months that it can be hard to remember it all. January 2020 feels like a lifetime ago, and all the events that occurred throughout the turbulent year seemed like they were put in a blender. 

As the country slowly, optimistically, takes baby steps into 2021, we examine the big takeaways for 2020 from a tech perspective. The search trends and analysis below are based on Google’s year-end search results summary. Why Google? Because the rise and fall of what millions of Americans searched for on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is an excellent indicator of what we were all thinking about this past year. 

Virtual goes viral

Never before was there such a focus on virtual, well, everything. In 2020, virtual trends included virtual field trips, virtual museum tours, a virtual Kentucky Derby, virtual learning and virtual sports, according to the top five virtual searches on Google’s Year in Search 2020 report

Virtual learning and the homework gap

As a hub for broadband expertise, we were particularly interested in how the increased need for learning and working from home would be received by internet providers. Could internet providers handle the increased demand on their networks? Would every student and teacher who need remote learning access be able to receive it? 

On one hand, many internet providers did attempt to step up to the challenge by joining the Keep Americans Connected initiative, which kept the internet turned on despite late fees and opened public Wi-Fi hotspots to all. 

Were these measures enough? Perhaps not, especially when considering that the U.S. still is among the top 10 countries for most expensive internet while simultaneously lagging behind in nationwide connectivity. Many students still suffered from complete lack of internet access, making the homework gap a more pressing issue than ever in 2020.

T-Mobile, however, is spearheading a project to provide free internet access for students, which may push us closer to providing satisfactory virtual learning for all students.

The broader perspective 

Overall, sports, entertainment and politics led the way in the most-searched topics for the year. Sports concerns made up over 40% of all searches, proving that not even a pandemic and one of the most-hotly contested presidential elections ever can tear Americans away from their love of competition, tailgating and root, root, rooting for the home team.


Google search trends year-in-review video

Google summarized the year 2020 as the year of “why.” People searched for answers from why was there a coin shortage beginning in July to why wildfires were raging in Australia and the Southwest U.S. 

Check out this YouTube video, created by Google, to see even more questions we had this year.

Lisa Iscrupe

Written by:

Lisa Iscrupe

Writer, Broadband & Data Content

Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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