Google’s 2020 Top Searches: Coping with The “New Normal”

Anh Le
3 min readMar 4, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic casted a shadow of financial and housing insecurity on many American households. These searches can infer readers of how people coped with the circumstance and adapted to the “new normal”.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 a pandemic. In the U.S., local authorities started passing out lockdown orders. At this time, businesses in the U.S. laid some of their employees off or sent them home to work remotely. Simultaneously, most universities and colleges switched to remote learning. This marks a significant change in many of Americans lives. Staying in the comfort of their home, some people might be jobless, while others might struggle to work from home. Due to the lack of face-to-face turned to the internet to learn and share.

In the first chart, the search term “unemployment” rocketed between March 8, 2020 and March 29, 2020. This reflects the increasing unemployment rate and job insecurity during the beginning of the pandemic in America.

Chart 1: “unemployment” and “recipe” search trends in the past 5 years

View the full chart here.

Meanwhile, many Americans were directed to work from home. It can be inferred that more people were less concerned about commuting and had more personal time after work to explore other hobbies. One of them is cooking. As we can see in Chart 1, in the past 5 years, the search term “recipe” only spiked around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. However, we witnessed a surge in interest right around the beginning of the lockdown order, which started on March 11, 2020.

More than that, working from home also means that people needed a sufficient conference and meeting application to migrate to online working and studying. As we can see in graph, search terms “zoom”, “webex”, and “google meet” all witnessed an increase in searches during the beginning of the lockdown. Above all, Zoom became the most sought-after term out of the three (see Chart 2). Zoom’s representatives said that their daily users increased 20 times to 200 million in March from 10 million in December 2019.

Chart 2: “zoom”, “webex”, “google meet” search trends in the past year

The full chart can be accessed here.

Likewise, people developed different hobbies during the pandemic and lockdown, and physical health is one of them. Although “workout”, “diet”, and “weight loss” search trends have had an overall stable status with a sudden rise in New Year’s Eves, the term “workout” experienced a rise during the beginning of the pandemic (see Chart 3). Two possible explanations for this change can be that people are more aware of their health due to the pandemic or that they have more time for self-care. In May 2020, the term “weight loss” spiked, which is an unusual pattern to have within the past 5 years. This can possibly be explained by the fact that some people are less active and might overeat or suffer from eating disorder as a result of rapidly changing living situations.

Chart 3: Physical-related search terms’ trend in the past 5 years

Check out the interactive chart here.

The U.S. is still in a fight against the disease, and is on its way to recover from the brutal impact this pandemic had on its citizens. A positive consequence of this hit is that the pandemic has challenged traditional definition of professionalism, transformed some workplace culture into a more laidback environment, and helped employees bond with each other on a personal level. Eventually, remote working might be a viable option for employees, and freelancers might not have a hard time landing gigs any more.



Anh Le

Hello! I’m a senior at UIC majoring in Communication. Welcome to my blog.