Written by Caroline Cox on Jan 3 , 2020

From big-name brands to unexpected breakouts, a look at 2019’s biggest Google search trends

Here, you’ll find:

  • A look at the biggest Google search trends of 2019
  • The biggest lessons learned from these search trends
  • How these search trends can inform 2020 marketing programs
  • Tactical ways to use these search trends to your brand’s advantage

The results are in, and the top Google searches of 2019 range from Disney Plus to “What is a boomer?”

It may feel like 2019 flew by, but make no mistake, it was chock-full of trends. It was also full of searches — more than 1 trillion Google searches worldwide, in fact.

Let’s break down what these search trends mean for marketing in 2020 and beyond.

HawkSEM: What 2019’s Top Google Searches Mean for Marketers

No matter what trends come and go, great storytelling will almost always attract a second glance. (Image via Unsplash)

People still gravitate to good storytelling

We’ve mentioned before that, from content to campaigns, storytelling is key to successful digital marketing. And what’s a better story than the one that ends with a hero saving the day?

Google reports that searches relating to “heroes” soared in 2019. And we don’t just mean superheroes you see on the big screen — though there were plenty of searches for them as well.

The search engine highlighted those searching for stories of regular people doing extraordinary things, from a record-breaking gymnast to a billionaire businessman who paid off student loans for a college’s entire graduating class.

Of course, highlighting a hero’s journey won’t make sense for all brands all the time. But it’s worth keeping in mind that, no matter what trends come and go, great storytelling will almost always attract a second glance.

It’s worth asking yourself: How can we illustrate the value of this product or service in a fun, interesting way? How can we show the target audience that we understand their pain points or needs? Storytelling is a great way to do just that.

Being first is good — being accurate is better

Unsurprisingly, many of 2019’s search trends involved breaking news stories. People wanted the latest, up-to-the-second updates on the likes of Hurricane Dorian and the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

These trends serve as an important reminder that accuracy is key, in news and digital marketing. Accuracy can be illustrated through methods like:

  • understanding your audience
  • publishing accurate information that’s not sensationalist or misleading
  • being transparent
  • being thoughtful and thorough about what you align with your brand

Take it from Peleton. In case you missed it, their holiday season marketing campaign caused quite the end-of-year stir when they put out a commercial that made getting one of their stationary bikes seem, to some, like more of a condescending burden than a gift.

The lesson: Creating marketing campaigns that appear to lack a fundamental understanding of who your audience is and what they want can have disastrous consequences (even if it spikes your SERP ranking). It’s not just about jumping on a bandwagon or meeting a deadline. You always want to be producing work that you and your team can fully stand behind.

Pro tip: People love a good comeback story. Even if your marketing campaign flops, try to turn the negative into a positive by owning up to it, making light of the situation, and moving forward like Facebook did back in 2018.

Internet fads can work in your favor

Speaking of Peleton, their loss turned out to be another brand’s gain.

Aviation American Gin (which just so happens to be owned by A-list actor Ryan Reynolds) quickly scooped up the actress at the center of the upscale bike brand’s controversial ad and released a short but impactful commercial where she’s at a bar drinking with her girlfriends.

The implication? She left her husband who bought her the exercise equipment as a gift. People loved the ad, and Google searches for Aviation predictably skyrocketed.

Because they acted fast, Aviation was able to capitalize on another company’s misstep. While not all companies have the time or resources to pivot so quickly, it’s a great example of how you can make internet fads work to your own company’s advantage.

HawkSEM: What 2019’s Top Google Searches Mean for Marketers

Consumers ages 18 to 34 spend an average of more than 200 minutes a day on their smartphones. (Image via Unsplash)

It’s time to think outside the desktop

It’s certainly fair to say younger generations, from millennials to Gen Z, are often the demographics who spend the most time online. Statista reports that 100% of U.S. millennials use the internet. Moreover, consumers ages 18 to 34 spend an average of more than 200 minutes a day on their smartphones.

From the rising popularity of voice search to the ubiquity of smartphones, it’s clear that optimizing for these platforms, rather than simply desktop searching, will be key to SERP ranking success in 2020 and beyond.

Ensuring your site is optimized for mobile means checking for elements including:

  • Speedy page loading
  • Proper formatting
  • Easy-to-read text
  • Seamless navigation
  • Clear calls to action (CTAs)

Those using voice search are often asking questions to their chosen smart speaker, so optimizing for these searches means presenting your content in a concise, conversational manner for the best chance of showing up in results.

The search box knows no age

While the younger generations may dominate when it comes to internet usage, 2019’s search result trends span generations.

Of the top 5 most searched actors, 80% were age 40 or above. Billy Porter, the top “red carpet” celeb search for the year, is 50. So, what does this mean for marketers?

It’s a nice reminder that you don’t need to work to appeal to the youngest generation to be relevant or create a message that resonates. After all, your target demographic — whether that’s teens, senior couples, or anyone in between — should be top of mind for your marketing program, regardless of the trends.

Pro tip: Whether you’re writing blog content or paid search ads, you want your ideal client personas to feel like you’re speaking directly to them. That means using clear, non-jargony language that they understand and that sounds more conversational than technical. More on that here.

The biggest search trends are often the most unexpected

You can have all the data at your fingertips and feel confident in knowing where a new industry trend is headed next. But trends, by nature, are unpredictable, meaning there’s only so much you can do to know what will and won’t resonate.

From the breakout hit song “Old Town Road” to the resurgent popularity of conversations about Area 51, it’s safe to say that it’s impossible to predict what’ll be trending in 2020. That’s why it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest industry news (subscribing to an email newsletter is an easy way to be kept in the loop) so you can see trends develop in real-time.

HawkSEM: What 2019’s Top Google Searches Mean for Marketers

Trends, by nature, are unpredictable, meaning there’s only so much you can do to know what will and won’t resonate. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

Digital marketing will always be a fast-evolving industry. Technology is advancing more quickly than ever, and new trends crop up every day.

But no matter what lands on 2020’s top Google searches list, it’s clear that some things — such as knowing your audience, speaking with authenticity, and telling an impactful story — are likely to stay the same.

Looking to amp up your digital marketing ROI in 2020? We can help.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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