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‘Corona,’ ‘Zoom’ and pancakes: Israel’s top trending Google searches in 2020

Israelis focused on the pandemic, politics and pop culture in a year like no other, searching online for information, solutions and distractions

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Celebratory 2020 balloons are hung from a storefront in Jerusalem on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Celebratory 2020 balloons are hung from a storefront in Jerusalem on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Google released its top trending searches for 2020 this week, with the pandemic, pop culture and politics leading in Israel.

The search terms reported by Google were those trending for the year, with the largest spike in searches compared to last year, not the most searched terms overall. The focus on trends better reveals users’ changing interests and reactions to current events.

The report depicts a populace in Israel and abroad made anxious by the coronavirus pandemic, and looking online for solutions and distractions.

Israel’s top trending term overall was “corona,” Hebrew shorthand for the virus, followed by “Health Ministry.” In third place was “N12,” the website for Israel’s Channel 12 news. “Employment Service Bureau” was in ninth place overall.

Traffic for all four of the search terms peaked in mid-March, when Israel began its first national lockdown, causing a massive wave of job layoffs, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency.

Fourth on the list was “Wpad,” an online protocol used for working from home. “Zoom” took fifth place and an online grocery delivery service was sixth.

The top-searched term in the “How-to” category was “How do you get infected with the coronavirus?” while number three was “How do I make a mask at home?”

Instructions for how to make mofletta pancakes were in second place, peaking during the Mimouna celebration in April when it is traditionally eaten, likely because many celebrants were forced to observe the holiday at home. “How to make a pancake” was fourth in the category.

The top search for a deceased person was iconic actor and director Yehuda Barkan, who died of COVID-19 in October, and legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident in January.

Not all of Israel’s Google activity in 2020 was doom and gloom.

The top-searched song lyrics, and the only ones not in Hebrew, were for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s raunchy, sex-positive hit “WAP.” The song’s lyrics were the most searched for worldwide also.

The top searched shows in Israel were the thrillers “Tehran,” “Fauda” and the Yom Kippur War drama “Valley of Tears.”

A children’s culture festival and two TV shows made the top ten overall, and reality TV was a leading category.

Israel’s elections, US politics and the Abraham Accords dominated the politics category. “Election results 2020,” referring to Israel’s elections in March, was the top trending term for the category overall.

“US elections” was No. 2 in the politics category, with almost all of the searches coming from the Tel Aviv area. “United Arab Emirates” was third, “US election results” fourth, “Donald Trump” fifth, “Bahrain” sixth, and “Joe Biden” seventh.

The leading Israeli politicians were Likud MK Gila Gamliel, accused of violating lockdown restrictions, in eighth place, and Likud’s Yifat Shasha-Biton, the rebellious head of the coronavirus committee, in ninth.

Globally, the top searches were “coronavirus,” “election results,” “Kobe Bryant” and “Zoom.”

Joe Biden was the top trending person worldwide, followed by Kim Jong Un, Boris Johnson, Kamala Harris and Tom Hanks, who was searched for most in March after he was infected by the virus. US President Donald Trump was not among the top ten, presumably because he has been leading headlines for several years and therefore not a 2020 trend.

More than in any past year, people worldwide googled “Insomnia,” “How to stop climate change,” “How to be a teacher,” “How to cut your hair” and “How to thank.” Black Lives Matter saw a spike in interest worldwide, “protest near me” trended in every US state, searches for mask emojis surpassed searches for hug emojis and the top trending profession was nursing.

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