Search 2016 – Trump, Brexit & Pokémon Go!

2016 has been a strange year. Senior Digital Marketing Exec Gordon takes us through the Good, the Bad and the Interesting.


2016 has been a strange year. If at the start of the year I had placed a bet on Leicester City to win the Premier League, Donald Trump to become US President and that Britain would leave the EU I would be roughly £15 million richer…if only eh?

So, in a year that’s been eventful, unpredictable and as time went on became the year to expect the unexpected, what ended up topping the trend charts for 2016? Last week Google released Global Search Trend Lists that show the top trending searches for the year, ranking everything from the top searches overall to the most searched movies, global news stories, people and more.

Top Trending Searches

The most popular search trend for 2016 on Google was Pokémon Go! Yes that’s right 2016, we’ll remember you for when the world went rather crazy for running around town trying to catch Pokémon on our mobile phones. It was a mad phenomenon that included viral videos showing obsessed crowds rushing around New York to capture rare Pokémon, to people in the background of news reports on Downing Street walking around searching for Pokémon on, I’m assuming, their lunch breaks. It was mad and although it seemed to be a huge success story, at the time, for Nintendo it was game over to the rise of their share prices when the truth eventually came out that they didn’t actually make the game. I know, Tragic!

Following from the Pokémon spectacle was iPhone 7. No surprises there to be honest, but nobody could’ve predicted the outcome that came in third in the top trending for 2016. It was a real turn up for the books. Donald Trump. 

Top Trending People & News

Donald Trump may have come out on top in the US Election but he only managed a humble third in the Global trends list. However, just like the Presidential Election, Trump trumped Hillary Clinton when it came to the People category on Google. There’s no shock to see both of them included in the top two in the people category after a Presidential Election that was heated, full of controversy and something everyone seemed to have an opinion on from the get go. It was for these reasons that the US Election also comes out on top for most popular news story with Olympics and Brexit coming in second and third.

Top Trending in the UK

Brexit. Do I dare make comment on this? Awk here it goes…what’s interesting with Brexit on search is that when it comes to what trended in Britain overall, it didn’t make the top three. The Euro’s, Pokémon Go and David Bowie came out on top. However, Brexit took all the headlines from top trending News & Events and when you look in to what trended for the search ‘What is?’ – ‘What is Brexit’ came in second with ‘What is the EU’ coming in fourth, with Google Trends reporting in June that it was the second most asked question on Google after the Brexit result had been officially announced. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that’s a sign people didn’t know what they were voting on.

Honey G….

When I say “Honey” you say…(tumbleweed rolls past). Well, yeah I’ve not got much to say on that one but, somehow, she makes the top 3 in the Famous Women category.

Singapore Trends

It would be rude not to mention the top trends of our friends in our Singapore office. Like Europe and America, in Singapore the people also fell in love with Pokémon Go as it featured heavily in a number of categories for search trends in 2016. It came in number two for overall searches and number one in Singapore News ahead of the success of Singapore’s first ever Gold medal Olympian Joseph Schooling. Schooling took Gold in the 100m Butterfly swimming event beating Olympic and swimming legend Michael Phelps in the process. There’s no surprise then that he topped the top trending person and athlete of the year from his success. It wasn’t all just sport and games as events overseas also gripped the Singapore nation as the US Election and Brexit came on top of International News ahead of the Rio Olympics and Australian Open. When it came to searching ‘Destinations’ though results were closer to home with searches such as Japan and ‘June holidays destinations in Asia’ featuring high in the top trending lists for Destinations.

Search in 2016 and looking ahead to 2017

We know what the trends were in search but what changed in Search and SEO in 2016 and what should be considered for 2017. I’ve listed 5 things to consider going forward after looking back on a busy year in Search.

  1. Mobile Optimisation

The growth of mobile seems to be one that will never end. This year mobile search generated more traffic than desktop and laptops with virtually everyone glued to their phones and opting to their mobiles first to find information. It only continues our message to clients of the importance of mobile optimisation and this will only continue going into 2017.

  1. Voice, AI & Bots

Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana and Alexa are making search more convenient for us and instead of us having to scroll up and down search results or even lift a finger we now have these bots (Digital Assistants) that do it for us. As time goes on, Artificial Intelligence & Bots are becoming ever more popular with consumers as their functionally improves and, being Scottish, trust me I see a massive difference in voice (accent) recognition compared to when they first came on the scene. This presents new challenges for marketers and there will have to be tests in search to see how to best harness and benefit from it.

  1. The Importance of Local Optimisation

Google launched My Business which has placed even more importance on businesses having strong presence in search results for local searches. There have been developments in how Google presents local terms and not optimising for this can leave you being missed out and missing out on potential traffic to site and footfall to your business. Therefore, it is imperative to have your business listed on Google to improve visibility and Google My Business is a great place to get started. Click here to find out more.

  1. Video & Interactive Content

Go on Facebook and you will be hit with 95% worth of its overall content being video. Whether it’s going Live on Facebook, live stream videos, viral videos or YouTube clips, video doesn’t seem to be slowing down just like mobile searches and in addition, video on mobile grew 6 times faster than desktop views in 2015 and in Quarter 4 of 2015 mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time ever. It is something that marketers have to be on top of and if you aren’t on video or creating entertaining, interactive and easy to digest video content then you may be missing a trick.

  1. Integrated Strategy

Whatever you do, make sure you are making all your marketing channels benefit your SEO, and aligned to strategic marketing goals. Whether it’s display, social, or email marketing, they can all help to influence people to come back through organic or paid search depending on the search entered into Google. Too many times there is a tendency for people to think that a channel isn’t working because the conversion rate from it is low. Ensure you continue to consider the assisted conversions these channels are generating. For 2017, make sure you realise the importance each channel plays in the overall customer experience, user journey and future searches for your potential customers and implement a strategy to ensure you remain at the forefront of their minds. It’s like Donald Trump, I can’t get the guy out of my head! He’s been everywhere I go in the last year whether it be on mobile, desktop or on my way to work in a newspaper.


The Future and Roll on 2017

I’ve mentioned just a few things to consider for 2017. No doubt, soon after I post this, some bits will be out of date and new trends will have emerged. That's just the speed things move at these days. This year the news alone has caused a lot of uncertainty and disruption. And global search behaviour has certainly reflected this. But at this point in the year, we choose to take the positives. There will be more disruption on the way on 2017, but we're keeping our minds open to the new opportunities that it can create, looking beyond business as usual toward growth and improvement. So roll on 2017. We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us!

Find out more about what was most searched in your country here and tell us your predictions for what will be trending in 2017 on twitter @dogdigital or over on Facebook.