(ABC4) – Year-end recaps have become an important part of December, especially in our digital age. Often, people compile slideshows of photos to remember special life events that occurred in the last twelve months. While these slideshows are undoubtedly fun to make and fun to watch – if they’re your own – there’s usually not much insight to be gleaned from these types of year-end recaps. Google yearly search trends, on the other hand, speak to us all.

The annual list – which has been released for the last 21 years – provides valuable insight into where we are as a country, what is capturing public attention, and how we’ve moved forward each year.

ABC4.com spoke with Molly VandenBerg, Google search trends expert, about what this year’s trends have to say about the nation.

“This year’s data is really interesting because I do think that it tells the story of the progress that we’ve made over the course of this year, particularly as it pertains to the pandemic.”

VandenBerg references the ‘near me’ category as particularly illustrative of this. The dichotomy of ‘COVID testing near me’ and ‘movies near me’ placed next to one another on the list shows the duality of public responses to COVID, and even illustrates the divisive nature of responses to the illness.

The searches also show that people are ‘re-learning’ elements of a more social, in-person lifestyle, VandenBerg says. She points to the ‘what to wear section,’ and the ‘how to be’ section as demonstrative of this.

“People are trying to figure out again how to do things like date,” she says. “For example, one of the searches is ‘how to be more attractive,’ and people are trying to figure out how to put their best face forward.”

But even though 2021 is the year of getting back out there, it’s also been a hard year for many, and the data reflects that, too. Searches like ‘how to be happy alone,’ and ‘how to help a family member with depression,’ show the ways people are struggling and making an effort to heal. The data also reflects the public’s increased focus and awareness of mental health.

“It’s always a really powerful moment to reflect on the course of the past year,” VandenBerg says. “It really does provide us with an opportunity to look at the year as a whole and think about where we’ve come.”

Also, the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ is still stumping Americans in 2021.

Here’s a look at Google’s top trending searches from 2021:


  1. NBA
  2. DMX
  3. Gabby Petito
  4. Kyle Rittenhouse
  5. Brian Laundrie
  6. Mega Millions
  7. AMC Stock
  8. Stimulus Check
  9. Georgia Senate Race
  10. Squid Game


  1. Kyle Rittenhouse
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Alec Baldwin
  4. Travus Scott
  5. Simone Biles
  6. Derek Chauvin
  7. Morgan Wallen
  8. Henry Ruggss III
  9. Pete Davidson
  10. Shailene Woodley


  1. DMX
  2. Gabby Petito
  3. Brian Laundrie
  4. Prince Philip
  5. Norm Macdonald
  6. Michael K. Williams
  7. Larry King
  8. Colin Powell
  9. Dustin Diamond
  10. Biz Markie


  1. Black Widow
  2. Eternals
  3. Halloween Kills
  4. Mortal Kombat
  5. Dune
  6. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  7. Godzilla vs. Kong
  8. The Suicide Squad
  9. Space Jam
  10. In the Heights

Musicians & Bands

  1. Travis Scott
  2. Morgan Wallen
  3. Adele
  4. The Weeknd
  5. Dr. Dre
  6. Olivia Rodrigo
  7. Marilyn Manson
  8. Daft Punk
  9. Bobby Shmurda
  10. Lil Nas X

How to help

  1. How to help Afghan refugees
  2. How to help Texas
  3. How to help India COVID
  4. How to help toddler with cough
  5. How to help foster kids
  6. how to help a family member with depression
  7. How to help Orphans
  8. How to help your teen make friends
  9. How to help teenager with depression
  10. How to help a baby with gas

Near me

  1. COVID vaccine near me
  2. COVID testing near me
  3. Movies near me
  4. Bars near me
  5. Bowling near me
  6. Brunch near me
  7. COVID booster near me
  8. Massage places near me
  9. Aquarium near me
  10. Buffet near me


  1. TikTok pasta
  2. Bacon jam
  3. Birria tacos
  4. Crockpot chicken
  5. Hamantaschen
  6. Squid Game cookie
  7. Baked oats
  8. Cicada
  9. Gigi Hadid pasta
  10. Smashed potatoes


  1. Stimulus Update
  2. DMX update
  3. Brian Laundrie Update
  4. Gabby Petito update
  5. Hurricane Ida update
  6. Caldor fire update
  7. Dixie fire update
  8. Tiger Woods update
  9. Derek Chavin update
  10. Severe thundrerstorm warning update

How to be

  1. How to be elgible for stimulus check
  2. How to be more attractive
  3. How to be happy alone
  4. How to be baddie
  5. How to be a good boyfriend
  6. How to be a good kisser
  7. How to be a flight attendent
  8. How to be happy with yourself
  9. How to be a good kisser
  10. How to be romantic