It’s fairly unusual for a scientist’s death to top South Africa’s search trends, but when that scientist has the profile of Stephen Hawking, the usual rules don’t apply. Much of the rest of the week was, however, on trend with local and international sports attracting serious search attention.
When news broke on Wednesday that physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking had died, the world stopped for a moment to mourn the loss of one of its greatest minds. Despite being confined to a wheelchair by a motor-neuron disease since the 1960s, Hawking continued to produce field-defining work throughout his life. He also played a major role in popularising scientific concepts that would’ve once been considered too complex for ordinary people to understand. There were more than 200 000 searches for Hawking on Wednesday.
Of all the football teams to receive significant search traction this week, Manchester United came out tops. On Saturday, it received more than 100 000 searches as it marched to 2-1 victory over Liverpool. On Wednesday meanwhile, it received 50 000+ searches as it crashed out of the UEFA Champions League.
Other international teams to trend during the week included Barcelona (50 000+ searches), Chelsea (20 000+ searches), and Real Madrid (20 000+ searches).
Closer to home, Orlando Pirates saw 50 000+ searches on Tuesday as they prepared to face Cape Town City in the Nedbank. Ultimately City would emerge victorious, sending the Buccaneers crashing out of the tournament.
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Nedbank Cup clash against EC Bees also drew some serious attention, attracting more than 50 000 searches on Tuesday. Kaizer Chiefs’ weekend clash with Stellenbosch FC meanwhile drew more than 20 000 searches.
Outside of football, VBS Mutual Bank (closely associated with former South African president Jacob Zuma) and the Cape Town Cycle Tour each received more than 20 000 searches on Sunday.
Google processes more than 40 000+ search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Google trends data is updated hourly and is available on https://www.google.co.za/trends.
Search trends in South Africa tend to be news and sports-driven. People search for things they hear or see on the news, and sports search terms trend several times a week, on average, every week.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.