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Communications & Marketing
The world of search

We always ask our students to read the news, to follow the developments around the world and to keep up with the times.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Anu Seppänen

lehtori, markkinointi ja viestintä
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 13.02.2023

As over 64 % of the world population has access to the internet (Statista 2023a), it is important to know what those billions of people look for and what information they search. We explored the most searched words, places, people and trends last year, and how the world of search is evolving.

Search for words

Google, with its around 85 % share of the global online search market (Statista 2023b), tracks trends and the most searched words each year.

According to Google Trends (2022), the most searched people last year were actors Johnny Depp, Will Smith, and Amber Heard – each of them involved in highly publicised scandals providing much needed distraction and escapism for the masses. Ukraine and Queen Elizabeth topped the news searches. Google Maps listed Buckingham Palace and Big Ben as the most searched for landmarks in the world. Google Flights ranked London as their most searched destination.

People are interested in individuals and locations of important events, wanting to know who, what and where. Even travel plans are made to get to the core of current events.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2022) chose “gaslighting” as the word of the year. Gaslightning is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage”. According to the online dictionary, gaslightning has become the favoured word for perception of deception and it is associated with misinformation and fake news. During the past year the searches for it went up by 1,740 %. People are clearly suspicious of information and informants.

Find your voice and enhance your search

During the years of navigating the enormous worldwide library of digital information, people have learned to be more specific and nuanced in their searches. When we type keywords to Google Search, the questions we pose to the search engine have become quite a detailed description of what we are looking for.

A growing trend is to search by using voice assistants like Alexa and Siri (Statista 2022). The benefits of using a virtual voice assistant are becoming clear to more consumers. Speech recognition not only makes life easier, but it also helps smooth the purchasing process. When consumers use smart appliances that are connected to the Internet, pressing a button and entering the search phrase verbally is very convenient. Adding an item to a grocery list while watching TV is done by telling Siri to do the addition.

As voice search becomes more popular, businesses need to optimise their online content to meet with what people search verbally. This means using formats that are geared towards question-and-answer type of searches and conversational language, like “Hey Google, what brands do Gigantti have in laptops?” or “Hey Alexa, I am looking for a grain free snack for my dog, recommended by vets”.

With multisearch towards sensory search

Exciting technological developments are taking place in search. Many of them might have still unimaginative business impacts and applications.

The first one is Google’s (Zeng 2022) new multisearch option introduced last year to their search repertoire. Multisearch is an enhanced function of Google Lens. It uses text and images in the same search and gives consumers an opportunity to ask questions about the image. Users of Lens can for example take a screenshot of a fancy orange dress and find it in another colour by adding the search word “green” to the application. Plant care instructions are easily available with just a picture of the plant itself.

The second mind-blowing development is the AI chatbot ChatGPT (OpenAI 2022), which is the new favourite place for searching and summarising information, engaging in a virtual conversation, explaining things, offering different viewpoints, generating text and content. The bot replies with natural sounding answers and creative solutions in response, all the time being polite and even apologising for mistakes. ChatGPT is not a search engine, though, and does not have access to the internet for information. Its abilities are based on machine learning and human feedback.

Although ChatGPT is often at full capacity, unable to offer access to its services or deliver satisfactory answers to people’s questions, much hope is put on AI-powered information generation in the future (OpenAI 2022). Versatile options for searching are already available for the delight of the users. It is already used by many marketing and communications agencies around the world.

Now that the world of search is already incorporating more than just words, our experience of search becomes more exciting. Engaging target audiences with not only words, but also voice and visuals certainly enhances the search experience. Maybe even more senses will be involved in future searches as AI and virtual technology are combined.

Big things happened in 2022, which showed in search activity: The global population reached 8 billion, climate change remained the top risk for our planet, the longest reigning monarch passed away, many felt lost and scared in the geopolitical chaos as war returned to Europe and people were worried about the cost-of-living crisis and inflation. (Google Trends 2022)