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Australia’s 2021 Google search year in review: sport, Covid news and home DIY dominate

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<span>Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic once again featured heavily in news-related internet searches in Australia this year, as lockdowns gripped the two largest states, and people sought vaccines.

Google has compiled data on the most popular search terms from the previous 12 months, which showed sport events again dominating, with Covid searches at the top of the news category. The NBA, AFL, cricket, NRL, football, Wimbledon and the Olympics took out the top spots for most searched topics in Australia in 2021.

Overall top Google searches in Australia in 2021

  • NBA

  • AFL

  • Australia vs India

  • NRL

  • Euro 2021

  • Wimbledon

  • Olympic medal tally

  • COVID NSW

  • Coinspot

  • Prince Philip

The Covid situation in New South Wales dominated news-related searches, with the Delta outbreak forcing the state into the longest continuous lockdown in 2021. Victorians, having endured the most number of days in lockdown since the pandemic started, did not appear to seek out information about the Covid situation in their own state nearly as much, with “coronavirus Victoria” coming in fifth in news-related searches, even behind Queensland at number three.

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For the second year in a row, people Googled “how to make face masks” more than any other DIY-related search. As residents in NSW, Victoria and the ACT endured extended lockdowns, at-home activities like making your own candles, playdough, paper planes, and chatterboxes soared.

As Australia’s vaccination “strollout” gathered pace in the second half of 2021, people searched how to get their vaccination certificates, how to book their Covid vaccination, how to link their Medicare to myGov, and how to enter the Million Dollar Vax campaign.

The shocking disappearance of West Australian four-year-old Cleo Smith and the dramatic rescue over two weeks later was the second biggest news event searched on Google by Australians. The ongoing search for missing toddler William Tyrrell came in sixth.

Top Google searches for news events in Australia in 2021

  • COVID NSW

  • Cleo Smith

  • QLD COVID update

  • Alec Baldwin

  • Coronavirus Victoria

  • William Tyrrell

  • Bert Newton

  • Christian Porter

  • Afghanistan

  • Melbourne earthquake

The former federal attorney general Christian Porter’s name dominated Google search trends in the days leading up to a press conference where he outed himself as the unnamed minister in an ABC report about an alleged historical rape. He vehemently denies the allegations. In his now-settled defamation suit against the ABC, lawyers for Porter raised that after the report searches of his name “increased significantly and much more so than any other senior male cabinet members”.

The former minister, who announced last week he would not recontest his WA seat of Pearce at the 2022 federal election, appears eighth in the 2021 list of news-related searches.

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Porter was the fourth most-searched person overall in Australia, behind Cleo Smith, Ash Barty, and William Tyrell. The new NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, came in sixth.

Bringing up the rear of news searches was the moment that shook Melbourne – literally – the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Victoria in September.

Interest in all things cryptocurrency was also reflected in Australian searches with cryptocurrency exchange Coinspot the ninth most searched term, and people searched how to buy Dogecoin.

Top ‘How to...?’ Google searches in Australia in 2021

  • How to get vaccination certificate

  • How to tie a tie

  • How to deliver uber eats

  • How to buy dogecoin

  • How to watch olympics australia

  • How to book COVID vaccine

  • How to watch euro 2021 in australia

  • How to link medicare to mygov

  • How to book pfizer vaccine

  • Million dollar vax how to enter

Prince Philip was the most searched among those who died in 2021, followed by US woman Gabby Petito, and Australian entertainment giant Bert Newton.

Thanks to Jaden Smith and Britney Spears, people were searching for the meaning of the word “emancipated” more than any other word in 2021, followed by “insurrection” after the events at the US Capitol on 6 January, then it was “gaslighting”, Naidoc and NFT.

Despite emerging late in the year, Omicron came in sixth as people looked up the meaning of the latest Covid-19 variant of concern.

Top 2021 Google searches for meanings and definitions

  • Emancipated meaning

  • Insurrection meaning

  • Gaslighting meaning

  • NAIDOC meaning

  • NFT meaning

  • Omicron meaning

  • Frigid meaning

  • Narcissist meaning

  • ROC meaning

  • Sedition meaning

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