Google year-end Zeitgeist for 2011 has gone live, and besides boasting a new look, complete with new, more interactive presentation of its findings; and while the new shine improves the look and feel, their findings are what we are really after.
After a quick glance, there's one thing crystal clear about the year that was -- it belonged, almost solely, to Rebecca Black. Sure, 2011 saw the death of Steve Jobs and the world reacted swiftly. Nevertheless, to give you an idea of how much more popular Black was over Jobs, while Black was the top-rising search query in the world, Steve Jobs came in ninth, and it's clear a great deal of these queries came after his passing.
When comparing the popularity ranges for Black and Jobs, it's important to keep the time period of their Google popularity in mind. When Rebecca Black was burning the Internet down, Jobs was still alive and because of that, analysis of that time period shows Black as the clear leader in regards to popularity:
The reason for her popularity is simple. Black had the most disliked video ever on YouTube, and while there have been some changes to the numbers thanks to the takedown and reposting of the infamous video, Black's mark on popular culture is undeniable. The infamous video that started it all, or, well, the reposting of it:
That made her such an Internet star, YouTube wisely kept her around.
Fast forward to the death of Steve Jobs, and queries for his name increase in popularity at an exponential rate, but it's not enough of an overall performance to supplant Black's overall popularity. That said, he was more popular than her after he passed:
While Jobs may not have surpassed Rebecca Black on an overall basis, his products had a strong showing as well. The iPhone 5 was the sixth and the iPad 2 was tenth. Much like search for Steve Jobs, the search for the iPhone 5 were "seasonal," meaning they weren't consistent throughout the year. However, right before the iPhone 4S came out, the queries for the iPhone 5 increased rapidly:
Of course, the Google Zeitgeist for 2011 was not all Apple and Rebecca Black. In fact, the second fastest rising search, according to Google'a calculations, belongs to Google's social networking hub, Google+. While the initial reception of Google+ was off the charts -- yay, a real Facebook killer emerges! -- the hype has come back to earth, but man, what a fast and furious ride it was:
If you move the slider to the beginning of the year, the searches for Google+ are non-existent. Clearly, the key to making the Google Zeitgeist is, when you hit, hit really, really hard and don't necessarily worry about the long tail, at least in regards to Zeitgeist popularity.
Other surprises included a third place appearance by Ryan Dunn, who's popularity was also driven by his unfortunate death. Following Dunn is Casey Anthony, proving that polarizing criminal trials have a strong Internet presence as well. Google has also produced a video celebrating this year's Zeitgeist, a three-minute celebration of the year that was, at least through the eyes of Google searches:
Finally, here are some additional findings you may find interesting. The fastest falling search term in 2011 was Myspace. Hey, at least they're still relevant, right? The fastest-rising query in Google News belonged to Hurricane Irene.
The most popular athlete in the eyes of Google's Zeitgeist was Manny Pacquiao, with Tiger Woods and LeBron James close behind. In the world of music, Adele was so popular, she made the overall Zeitgeist top 10, coming in at number seven. As far as songs go, Lady Gaga won the day with "Born This Way."
This year's version of the Google Zeitgeist is incredibly comprehensive, so I would suggest taking some time and checking out for yourself because this article is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a large number of top 10 lists, ranging from fastest risers in Google Maps to the top queries in pop culture.
With that in mind, any thoughts on the latest year-end list from Google? Any surprises or disappointments? Let us know what you think.