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A Year in Singapore Search: Google’s Top Searches of 2013

Yesterday, Google announced its annual Year End Zeitgeist, a look at 2013 through the collective eyes of the world on the web, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major events and hottest trends based on Google searches conducted in Singapore.

So what got Singaporeans buzzing online in 2013?

The Southeast Asian haze grabbed attention and headlines this year, as Singaporeans searched for information about the phenomenon by looking up the latest PSI readings, facts about haze particles, and preventative masks. Singaporeans also kept an eye on other local news and events, including Singapore’s bird flu readiness, the investigation into American engineer Shane Todd’s alleged suicide, and news of local actor, Huang Wenyong’s death from lymphoma. Another celebrity death to make waves in Singapore was that of movie star Paul Walker, who died suddenly in a car crash in November.

Basketball is here to stay among Singaporean sport fans with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, and the Dallas Mavericks emerging on Singapore’s most searched sports teams for the first time. The nation continued to follow international football favourites as well, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur all making the list, along with local team LionsXII.

Ever gadget- and bargain-savvy, Singaporeans searched for key dates for events like the 2013 IT Show, COMEX and the Great Singapore Sale. The nation also indulged its love for food—especially its sweet tooth—with searches for traditional treats like Kueh Bangkit and Snow Skin Mooncake, and contemporary favourites like Rainbow Cake, Leche Flan and Nutella Blossom, spiking on the trending recipes list.

Short trips and weekend getaways remained popular as Legoland Malaysia, the first Legoland theme park in Asia, came in as the top travel destination for Singaporeans for the second year in a row, along with Hong Kong, Penang, and Bangkok, cities famed for good food and shopping. On the whole, however, holidaymakers preferred to relax under the sun with well-known beach destinations such as Bali and Langkawi snagging 5 out of the top 10 travel hotspots.

Google spokesperson Sana Rahman said: “Google’s year-end Zeitgeist is a cultural barometer showing us what quickened our national heartbeat and drove our curiosity in 2013.”

As someone is online 24-7, I couldn’t agree more. Online trends often mirrors what goes on in the real world and sometimes give clues and insights on human behaviours.



1.       PSI Singapore

2.       Harlem shake

3.       Little India riot

4.      Anonymous

5.       N95 mask

6.       Malaysia election

7.       Deepavali 2013

8.       Gwiyomi

9.       Boston

10.   Tampines accident


1.       Paul Walker

2.       Cory Monteith

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Nelson Mandela

5.       Gordon Ramsay

6.       Margaret Thatcher

7.       Lea Michele

8.       Jennifer Lawrence

9.       Rowan Atkinson

10.   Tom Hiddleston


1.       Wrecking Ball

2.       Gentlemen

3.       Blurred Lines

4.       Counting Stars

5.       Clarity

6.       Royals

7.       Get Lucky

8.       Thrift Shop

9.       Road

10.   Heart Attack


1.       The Conjuring

2.       Pacific Rim

3.       Despicable Me 2

4.       World War Z

5.       Man of Steel

6.       Iron Man 3

7.       The Great Gatsby

8.       Gravity

9.       Oblivion

10.   Warm Bodies

What is…

1.       PM 2.5

2.       Gwiyomi

3.       Twerking

4.       Obamacare

5.       Lymphoma

6.       OOTD

7.       Hail

8.      Mastectomy

9.       Gluten

10.   H7N9

How to…

1.       Rap

2.       Harmonize

3.       Cycle

4.       Twerk

5.       Paint

6.       Beatbox

7.       Factorise

8.       Crochet

9.       Deadlift

10.   Blog


1.       iPhone 5s

2.       Samsung Galaxy S4

3.       Samsung Note 3

4.       iPhone 5c

5.       iPad Air

6.       Nexus 5

7.       iPad Mini 2

8.       HTC One

9.       Sony Xperia X

10.   Xbox One


1.       Shepherd’s Pie

2.       Kueh Bangkit

3.       Lasagne

4.       Snow Skin Mooncake

5.       Nutella Blossom

6.       Rainbow Cake

7.       Chicken Wings

8.       Beef Steak

9.       Leche Flan

10.   Cornflake Cookies

Most Searched

Travel Destinations

1.       Legoland Malaysia

2.       Bali

3.       Hong Kong

4.       Maldives

5.       Bangkok

6.       Taiwan

7.       Bintan

8.       Langkawi

9.       Krabi

10.   Penang

Local News

1.       Bird Flu

2.       Shane Todd

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Kovan

5.       Khaw Boon Wan

6.       Flood

7.       Singapore haze

8.       Singapore property

9.       Tey Tsun Hang

10.   Singapore riot

TV Shows

1.       Running Man

2.       Game of Thrones

3.       Breaking Bad

4.       Suits

5.       Naruto Shippuden

6.       The Big Bang Theory

7.       The Heirs

8.       The Voice of China

9.       The Walking Dead

10.   We Got Married

Korean Stars

1.       Kim Jong-kook

2.       Super Junior

3.       Girls’ Generation

4.       Hyuna

5.       Park Shin-hye

6.       Yoon Eun-hye

7.       Lee Min-jung

8.       Gary Kang

9.       Jo In-sung

10.   Jang Geun-suk


1.       Singapore F1

2.       IT Show

3.       Australian Open

4.       COMEX

5.       PC Show

6.       Standard Chartered Marathon

7.       Wimbledon

8.       Sundown Marathon

9.       NATAS Fair

10.   Great Singapore Sale

Sports Teams

1.       Arsenal

2.       Manchester United

3.       Liverpool

4.       Chelsea

5.       LionsXII

6.       Tottenham Hotspur

7.       Houston Rockets

8.       L. A. Lakers

9.       Miami Heat

10.   Dallas Mavericks


1.       Cristiano Ronaldo

2.       David Beckham

3.       Jeremy Lin

4.       Roger Federer

5.       Wayne Rooney

6.       Oscar Pistorius

7.       Rafael Nadal

8.       Jose Mourinho

9.       Thiago Alcantara

10.   Andy Murray

on Mobile

1.       PSI Singapore

2.       SGX

3.      Weather

4.       Arsenal

5.      Manchester United

6.      Liverpool

7.       iPhone 5s

8.      Restaurants

9.      Running Man

10.  Samsung Galaxy S4

To see more information about Google Zeitgeist across the globe, use interactive data visualizations and to watch Google’s annual video, visit google.com/zeitgeist.

What is Google’s Year-End Zeitgeist?

Google reveals the Internet “Zeitgeist” (German for “the spirit of the times”) through an exploration of the over one trillion search queries received each year. In addition to the Year-end Zeitgeist, which highlights the top trends of 2013, Google also have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. Google Zeitgeist tools can never be used to identify individual users because Google relies on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur over time. These tools are available year-round for us to play with, explore, and learn from at google.com/zeitgeist


Google’s Dan Russell Search Workshop

Dan Russell with his assistant
Dan Russell with his assistant

About a month back, I was invited by the folks from Google to attend a Search Workshop conducted by Dan Russell, resident search guru and scientist from Googleplex, the corporate headquarters complex of Google, Inc., located in Mountain View, California.

The workshop was conducted via a video conference and was attended by about a dozen journalists and bloggers.

The workshop
The workshop

Here’s a few interesting pointers I took away:

– When searching for an abstract object – eg. an unknown flower you came across on your way to work, search in the simplest possible language to describe the object that most others will also describe the same way. To search for a dandelion, type something like “flower with parts you can blow” under image search.

– Use more CTL-F (or Apple-F for Mac) to speed up searching within a page. Apparently, majority of Internet users do not know how to use the common CTL-F search function which I took for granted. If you do not know this, press CONTROL + F now and search a random word to learn!

– Google actually has calculator function whereby you can type in mathematics symbols into the search bar and answers will be provided!

Here is the link to a page on Google that provides more useful search tips.

Below is a table provided by Google Singapore’s PR Agency, The Hoffman Agency which nicely summed up the learning at the workshop:


Skills for understanding results
Scenario: Searchers tend to read or scan the results page when working on their task and its crucial they they pick out the words they are looking for. But what do you need to know about search to be good at it? And what strategies do you need to use to search the results page?
Tip 1: It’s important to know what information is out there and what needs to be found. Also, it is essential to have a search strategy – such as how to frame the question, when to stop researching and when to change the approach.

Tip 2: Use Google Translate to translate from English to a foreign language and vice versa. It also enables you to find information from sites written in other languages through cross-language search.

Think synonymously:
There are times when we need to search for a term that we only know by concept. Example: we want to find out the term used to describe the small version of the sculpture in wax or clay when an artist is making a sculpture for a client. It is usually a preliminary sketch presented to the client for approval.
Tip 3: The easiest solution to search this is to key in ‘small sculpture model’ in the search box then
read through the snippets for unusual words to find a possible match. The answer is Maquette. To double check, you can use Google as a dictionary and key in ‘define:maquette’ and you’ll get a definition immediately.
Naming the un-nameable
Challenge: Everyone has a little indentation on their upper lip. But what is that called?
Tip 4: Start with the simplest search you can think of which is ‘upper lip indentation’. If it’s not right, you can always modify it. When you click on the results page, you’ll find out that its called a philtrum.Then  you double check it by using Google as a dictionary; key in ‘define:philtrum’.
Using the minus sign
Challenge: Sometimes you want to look up something that’s pretty common, so there are lots of search results. It’s even worse when the word is really common.  So how do you eliminate things you don’t want? For example, can you find a great recipe for salsa to make for dinner tonight? What if your partner is allergic to tomatoes. Can you find a salsa recipe without tomatoes in it?
Tip 5: The trick here is to emove all salsa dance and tomato references. The quickest way is to include the MINUS sign in the search field, so it looks like this: “salsa –dancing –tomatoes”. The search results will then show salsa recipes without tomato as an ingredient.
Searching within a site
Imagine if you were Dan Russell and someone mentioned that you were quoted in the New York Times online site. How do you find the page where you were quoted?
Tip 6: Use “site: operator” to search within a particular web site [for example, “Daniel M Russell”  site:nytimes.com]. Note that you need to include the ‘M’ in the name and you need to use the double quotation mark. This is important because “Daniel Russell” is a very common name and The NYTimes has the convention of always spelling a person’s name out completely, including middle initials. So its important to understand the publication’s way of writing as well.

Have fun fiddling around with online searches to hone your search capability. I had fun improving mine. 🙂

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