Personal finance topics were tops in Google's Year in Search
Every year, Google Trends publishes its “Year in Search,” a list of search terms that had the biggest spike in volume compared to the previous year. It’s a neat way to see what people were especially interested in during a given year.
As you might expect, there were plenty of personal finance topics on the list this year. 2021 was a year of big bets on meme stocks, cryptocurrency, and the lottery. Here are the top money queries from Google’s Year in Search.
The top search in the “News” category was for “Mega Millions,” which, along with Powerball, is one of the two major national lotteries. Digging into the search data, interest in Mega Millions spiked in late January, when the jackpot reached (Dr. Evil voice) $1 billion. Four ticket holders in Michigan ended up splitting the massive prize.
The second biggest “News” search was for stock in AMC, the American movie theater chain. The company suffered in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic kept movie lovers out of theaters, but the stock rallied early in 2021 thanks to the “meme stock” movement, in which retail investors encouraged by social media drove the price to record highs. The share price has dropped by almost half since June.
This was the third biggest “News” search. If you’re keeping score, the three biggest searches in this category were all money related (and there’s one more coming!). Last year, only two of the top five news searches were money-related (1. “Election results” 2. “Coronavirus” 3. “Stimulus checks” 4. “Unemployment” 5. “Iran”). “Stimulus check” was the only item to appear in consecutive years. Based on the way Google Trends puts these lists together, that means that a lot of people were searching for stimulus checks in 2020 and even more were searching for the same term in 2021. The Biden administration sent a third round of stimulus checks starting in March as part of a COVID-19 stimulus law. “Stimulus check”was also the top “How to be” search, as in, “How to be eligible for stimulus check,” and the top “updates” search, as in, “Stimulus updates.”
2021 was the year of the meme stock. GME is the stock symbol for GameStop, and it was the fifth-most-searched news term of 2021. The only term in the top five that wasn’t money-related was “Georgia Senate Race.” As they did with AMC, retail investors pushed the stock price of GameStop to new heights. The frenzy of activity caused Robinhood to temporarily restrict trading of GameStop and other meme stocks and led us to ask whether betting on meme stocks was actually a sound investing strategy.
This was the most popular “how to pronounce” search of 2021. Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency worth about 16 cents apiece as of Dec. 13. It was originally created as a way of mocking cryptocurrency, but shot up in value in May as part of a wave in cryptocurrency investing. (2021 was also the year of crypto). Like all digital currencies, the value of Dogecoin is highly speculative and volatile. And for the record, it’s pronounced “dowzh.” It almost rhymes with “coach,” but with a soft “j” sound.
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