For marketers looking to understand the people, events, and cultural moments that defined 2018, search data provides a snapshot. From Stephen Hawking to the royal wedding to “Black Panther,” it’s clear what people cared about in the past year.
Search has always offered a window into what people need, want, and intend to do. That’s become even more true as the words that people type into a search box become increasingly conversational and personal.
In 2018, Google Search turned 20 years old. And while the way people search has changed dramatically in that time, the reasons why people search have not. People turn to search for information and inspiration, to learn how to do something, and to sate their curiosity. And 2018 was no different.
This year, people turned to search to locate their local polling place, to find out Prince Harry’s last name, and to understand why everyone was talking about something called “Fortnite.” They asked, “who won mcgregor vs khabib” and “where is hurricane michael.” And they also explored “how to vote,” “how to buy bitcoin,” and “how to get boogie down emote.”
People searched for news about the royal wedding and election results. They followed the World Cup and explored the movie “Black Panther.” And they searched for all things good — from “how to be a good dancer” to “what makes a good role model” to “good things in life.” In fact, the world searched for “good” more in 2018 than ever before, and that was the insight that inspired this year’s annual Year in Search film.
The things people search for provide a road map of sorts for marketers, showcasing exactly when, where, and how people want assistance. In 2019, the most successful marketers will begin to predict what people want.
“Today’s consumers expect more. They want assistance at every step,” Jason Spero, VP of global performance solutions at Google, wrote in an article this year. “Therefore, as marketers, we need to be one step ahead of our customers — it’s time to start predicting their needs regardless of where they are in their journey.”
As we head into 2019, people’s expectations will continue to rise. They’ll ask increasingly detailed questions and expect brands to provide answers that are tailored just for them. Ultimately, it will be the brands that are deemed truly helpful that will rise above the competition.