We are what we Google

3 minute read

There’s more questions than answers when looking for meaning in search engine data.

For better or worse, when most people want information on matters of health then Google is their first, and sometimes only, port of call.

As our second year of pandemic draws to a close, it would surprise absolutely no one that questions related to all things covid dominated traffic to the world’s pre-eminent internet search engine.      

But digging a little deeper into data released by Google last week, we find some intriguing variants on what folks looked for online. 

Information on covid case numbers and outbreaks were top of the news searches in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, along with queries on how to book vaccinations and download vax certificates. Also popular were instructions on how to make facemasks, which seems sensible, but the fact that large numbers of people were looking up “how to make oxygen” is a tad concerning.

But while covid was top of the heap when it came to “news” searches in Australia, it was by no means this year’s most sought-after information. That prize goes to NBA. Yes, the US-based men’s basketball competition is what we really cared about.

In fact, sporting-related searches took out the top seven spots for Aussie searches, with the term “covid NSW” merely limping into place number eight overall.

So what else did we go looking for when we were locked in our lounge rooms?

Well, recipes for gnocchi, negronis and guacamole were unsurprisingly popular. But then so too were recipes for curried sausages and brussels sprouts.       

In the “how to” searches section, the number one placegetter was “how to get a vaccination certificate”, which was pleasing to see. But the number two search was “how to tie a tie”, followed closely by “how to deliver uber eats”. We’d love to think those two searches were related, but we can’t begin to imagine how.              

Coming in at number eight in this section was “how to link medicare to mygov”, followed by “how to book a Pfizer vaccine” at number nine. Perfectly sensible.

But the final category which caught our eye was for word meanings. Draw your own conclusions from this, but the most searched-for word meaning was “emancipation”, followed by “insurrection” in second place, and “sedition” in 10th spot.

Be afraid.

But don’t be afraid to share your interesting search results with felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au

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