Research purpose: To identify what the United Kingdom Googled in 2016 for each letter of the alphabet.
Method: The results were obtained via google.co.uk and its autocomplete function. To prevent any bias coming from the search history or researcher’s digital footprint, the research was performed in incognito browsing mode in Google Chrome. To avoid bias coming from the search spikes, the research was conducted in multiple iterations throughout 2016.
Findings: In 2016, online shopping dominated Google search as roughly 1 in 4 top hits for alphabet letters in Google search led to a shopping/retailing website. Online shopping was big in 2015 and 2016 and most likely this trend will continue as it empowers buyers and provides additional convenience. Fun and entertainment were equally important. However, unlike in 2015, in 2016 sports seems to have given space to news portals and retail stores. For two years in a row, Kendall Jenner remained top search starting with K. A range of google searches led to essential tools such as e-mail hosts, maps and the weather forecast. Property websites (Zoopla and RightMove) topped the list for their corresponding initials as the “rent generation” and first home buyers are there to stay. The Ucas website was popular among high-school graduates for enrollment to colleges and universities while for the first time a recruitment website Indeed found its way to the chart. All in all, the Google searches in 2016 remained generally consistent with searches in 2015 but with few shifts: Amazon toppled Agros, BBC News became more searched than BBC sport. Indeed took IKEA’s position, Lloyds bank replaced Lottery, Nicki Minaj lost to NEXT, while SkySports has given way to Sainsbury’s.
Limitations: Google autocomplete function was designed to provide up to date, general and personally relevant search suggestions. This function, with a letter given, will list the most searched themes/topics and sort them according to the popularity. Google autocomplete will not display any adult or offensive content. The results obtained in this way, do not necessarily have to match the most popular websites that can be accessed in numerous ways other than Google search. Given that Google promotes search freshness, any topic/theme that has a short-term search spike at the moment of search will be listed above other historically more popular themes. In this particular study, all measures were implemented to mitigate or minimise potential sources of bias.