Google, Facebook reveal hottest topics for 2015

Dec 16, 2015

2015 is not quite over yet, but New Year’s Eve is close enough for Google and Facebook to reveal what were the hottest topics for the past year with little chances for changes until December 31.

A picture being worth a thousand words, especially when the picture is a movie, both internet giants even went so far as creating short movies to present  Google's most searched terms in 2015 and Facebook's most talked-about subjects.

Dominating the internet news and social media this year were the terror attacks in Paris that tragically opened and closed the year, while the single day of November 13 saw the highest search interest for Paris in the history of Google.

Other hot topics in 2015 were centered around the events in Syria and Iraq where the jihadist group ISIS gained worldwide interest as it repeatedly caused many horrific events all year long, had tremendous consequences on global geopolitics, prompted an unprecedented refugee crisis, and was involved in the most shocking terror attacks in the world at various degrees, from Paris to San Bernardino.

Though the most talked about events are mostly the same when comparing Facebook’s and Google’s reviews and data for 2015, a few striking differences stand out.

Firstly, Facebook is obviously much more US-centric and prompts more activity about domestic politics than Google, which can be explained both by the fact that this is an election campaign year, and that politics are much more open to debate in general than other topics, probably generating more activity fueled by endless discussions than actual worldwide interest.

All of Facebook hottest topics for 2015 were of a more or less political nature, while in contrast Google searches and news were a mixed bag of major events, as well as trendy TV personalities, movies, games and consumer appliances especially Apple’s mobile tech.

Of course, there will be more hot events piling on the top list by the end of the year, including the long awaited release of the latest Star Wars opus, but as 2015 is almost over it is unlikely to topple any of the topics most discussed in the past eleven and a half months.

Altogether and given the year’s heavy load of tragic milestones and events, perhaps the most intriguing result from Google’s 2015 top list is the #1 ranking in search terms, on which probably not many people would have bet. Take a guess, then browse our own review of Google’s and Facebook’s hot topics for the year to find out more.

Google's Top 10 news for 2015

As indicated above, the two terror attacks on Paris were clearly the hottest events on Google News for 2015. 

1. Charlie Hebdo

Number #1 on the list of top search terms is “Charlie Hebdo”. The 45 year-old satirical weekly gained worldwide fame when it published controversial Muhammad cartoons that set the islamic world in raging anger back in 2006. Almost ten years later, the magazine was the target of a major terrorist attack where 12 people were killed, including several famous french cartoonist such as Cabu or Charbonnier alias ‘Charb’.

2. Paris

Google, who went so far as making an interactive visualization of searches across the world regarding the Paris attacks during the 24 hours following the beginning of the fateful events in France, reveals that November 13, 2015 was the day who saw “the highest search interest for Paris in the history of Google”.

3. Hurricane Patricia

Classified as “the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere“,  Hurricane Patricia mostly hit Mexico, and its rank as third most searched news topic of 2015 does outline Mexico’s rise in the world of internet. The country is identified as a “a hypergrowth market” since 2005, its connected population soaring from 5,5M users to 51M users over the last decade.

4. Isis

ISIS is the acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a widespread and highly active Salafi jihadist militant group that has made the news for its military and terrorist actions in Middle-East, Europe and more recently in San Bernardino, California.

ISIS is very active on the internet where it “is known for its extensive and effective use of propaganda” one can read on Wikipedia. Indeed, the terrorist group has fully grasped the power of social media to topple Al Qaeda as the #1 jihadist group, strike the minds with both horrific and symbolic acts, and to recruit supporters all around the globe.

Beyond the intricate global politics involved that prompts many questions from internet users on Google News, it’s worth noting that ISIS was the acronym most adopted by the public, even though the terrorist group is using many others names (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State, IS...), and that many governments officially call the group "ISIL” while others refer to it as “Daesh” not to refer to it as an official state.

5. Nepal

On April 25, the small mountainous Asian country suffered a major and deadly earthquake that made over 9.000 victims and prompted a worldwide rescue effort. Unfortunately, most of this effort seemed to have been short lived despite the strong initial humanitarian response, as “the country’s vital tourism industry is still decimated months after disaster struck,” according to Vanity Fair and most other media following the situation.

6. El Chapo

This spectacular rise in Mexico’s connectedness is also evident as the notorious drug lord Joaquín Guzmán aka ‘El Chapo’ also made the top 10 news list for 2015 with its spectacular escape from a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel. More recently, ‘El Chapo’ made the news again somewhat involuntarily as a rumor claimed the Mexican kingpin engaged in a war with the Islamic group ‘Daesh’, a hoax admittedly orchestrated by the site thuglifevideos.com that spread like wildfire across the internet.

7. Greece

The financial crisis that saw the European state of Greece almost go bankrupt monopolized the world’s attention early in the year, especially in the wake of the leftist political movement Syriza’s accession to power, its charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras being elected Prime Minister in mid-January.

8. Baltimore Riots

9. San Bernardino

10. Hurricane Joaquin


Google Top 10 searches for 2015

You probably would have needed one hundred guesses before finding what was the most searched term this year.

In the rest of the top 10 lie three Hollywood blockbusters, another much praised game and one TV celebrity, and a female MMA champion.

That list is complete with the single term “Paris” which for once does not refer to the controversial Hilton heir but to the City of Lights. The French capital suffered yet another major terrorist attack on November 13, 2015, in which 130 people died and hundreds more were hurt.

1. Lamar Odom

Who? Yes,  Lamar Odom. Chances are you only heard of him if you’re a US Sports fan, or if you’re really into reality TV, since Lamar Joseph Odom is a Jamaican-born ex-professional basketball player who won two NBA championships with the L.A. Lakers (2009 and 2010) as well as the 2014 Olympics Title.

The real reason behind Odom’s sudden fame on Google is because Odom was found unconscious in a Las Vegas brothel this October. Reportedly brain-dead at first, the former NBA star has regained consciousness. Meanwhile, it was that Odom's medical bills could top $10 million this year alone.

The somewhat uneventful news - compared to most other 2015 events - prompted a controversial argument between social media superstars Kim Kardashian - incidentally Odom's estranged wife - and Kris Jenner. This in turn popped a question for millions of unaware social media followers: “who the hell is Lamar Odom?”. If you don’t know who Kim Kardashian is, well you’re better off keeping it that way, and oddly enough she did not even make the cut of 2015 Google’s top searches anyway.

2. Charlie Hebdo

3. Agar.io

Agar.io is a massive multiplayer game where the goal is to amass cells on a petri dish without being swallowed. Launched as an app, and downloaded more than ten million times in just one week,  Agar.io is the new Candy Crush, and that’s enough to make it #3 on Google’s top searches of the year.

4. Jurassic World

5. Paris

6. Furious 7

7. Fallout 4

8. Ronda Rousey

9. Caitlyn Jenner

10. American Sniper


Google Top 10 tech topics for 2015

Unsurprisingly maybe, the top 2 spots in the search hit list for tech topics are two phones that were released earlier this year by the top 2 mobile brands, Apple and Samsung.

As underlined by the geek news site The Next Web after detailing the Google’s 2015 Top 10 lists, the iPhone 6S actually crushed its competitors, as much as “four times as high as any other search” during the last quarter of the year.

Apple dominated 2015 as among other consumer tech to make the top 10 this year are the #1 wearable item Apple Watch and the iPad Pro. Samsung also placed two more items in the top 10 with its flagship products Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy J5, while LG, Nexus, HTC and Microsoft share the four remaining spots on the list.

1. iPhone 6S

2. Samsung Galaxy S6

3. Apple Watch

4. iPad Pro

5. LG G4

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

7. Samsung Galaxy J5

8. HTC One M9

9. Nexus 6P

10. Surface Pro 4

Google - Year In Search 2015 by Google


Facebook most talked-about global topics 2015

Earlier this week, Facebook revealed to the world its own review of the past year, including the “most talked-about global topics” which aggregates a list of most popular subjects on the #1 social network.

More specifically, the list shows “how frequently a topic was mentioned in Facebook posts made between January 1 and December 1, 2015 (...) analyzed in an aggregated, anonymized way, and then ranked to create a snapshot of the year”.

The list is much less precise than Google’s search terms as it is the result of a somewhat subjective analysis, especially since many topics share various common themes, such as the “Syrian Civil War & Refugee Crisis” and the “Fight Against ISIS”.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that the upcoming “US Presidential Election” is the number one topic discussed on Facebook, more so than the “Attacks in Paris” who otherwise dominated Google’s searches and news in 2015.

Overall, US-centered subjects make up almost half the list, including “Marriage Equality”, “Baltimore Protests” and “Charleston Shooting & Flag Debate”, which goes to show that American domestic politics at large are probably the #1 subject as a whole on Facebook this year.

1. US Presidential Election

2. November 13 Attacks in Paris

3. Syrian Civil War & Refugee Crisis

4. Nepal Earthquakes

5. Greek Debt Crisis

6. Marriage Equality

7. Fight Against ISIS

8. Charlie Hebdo Attack

9. Baltimore Protests

10. Charleston Shooting & Flag Debate

2015 Year in Review from Facebook



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About the author

Michel Leconte
Michel Leconte

Omnivorous mammal & SEO Samba CEO, I'm a regular speaker at search engine marketing conferences around the world, including Search Engine Strategies London & New York, and a contributor to a number of publications, including Website Magazine, and Feedfront Magazine. I enjoy strategy, coaching, and motivating both customers & staff.

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