Google suggestions for the term '20201 has been...'

Search Listening for 2021: What Does the UK Want to Know?

I don’t think I need to go into how 2020 has been as a year. Google’s top suggestions for ‘2020 has been…’ searches (above) speak volumes.

With ‘year reviews’ from the likes of Spotify, Netflix, (RIP YouTube Rewind) and Google Trends – I really wonder how much longer we can drag out and dwell on this never-ending year. That’s why I want to turn around and look ahead to 2021 – and I’m not the only one. The UK’s search activity shows that the New Year and what it will bring is on their minds.  

So, what exactly does the UK want to know about 2021*? 

1. The B-Word 

The political one that is. Let’s get it out of the way. As if 2020 wasn’t dire enough, it’s been tainted here and there with a splash of Brexit negotiations thrown into the mix. As the talks continue literally until the very last minute of 2020, the suspense for what 2021 holds is ever-growing. And of course, who hasn’t taken to Google to try to figure out what on earth is going on?!  

  • Suggestions around Brexit show that people’s top priorities are financial, with queries around duty freepredictions for the pound and house prices (more to come on this later).  
  • I interpret the broader terms ‘date brexit’, ‘what will change after brexit’ and ‘new rules brexit’ as underpinning the confusion, with searchers seeking out basic information.  
  • And of course, the impact Brexit will have on travel (as if holidays weren’t tricky enough with the next bombshell…) 

2. COVID-19 

Ahh let’s all just breathe a sigh of relief – no more talk of Brexit here from now on! I promise, you won’t hear it mentioned again. That would be because it’s been massively overshadowed by the C-Word – the virus one that is. Understandably, Covid-19 is a common thread throughout most results concerning 2021, but a ‘Covid 2021’ search tells you what people are Googling specifically about the virus.:

  • The ‘predictions’ and ‘projections’ results are to be expected. With the national situation fluctuating on a daily basis, everybody is basing decisions on ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’.  
  • All travel has been massively hit this year, but it’s interesting to note that a top priority is to get back on the ski slopes, and there’s curiosity about how travel insurance will be affected.  
  • Cancelled and postponed weddings have been another blow for many in 2020 – more to come on that later as people seek advice. 
  • It goes without saying that for most the vaccine is our beam of hope, pulling us forward to 2021. That said, there are still unresolved questions around the vaccine such as when, where and how many of us will be able to receive it next year. 
  • Last but not least from GCSEs to college admissions, all levels of schooling have been impacted. Keep reading for more on this as well! 

3. Should I… 2021?  

When studying search behaviour, a phenomenon that pops up a lot is advice-seeking. People will turn to Google for a quick answer, if they think their peers won’t know, or if they don’t feel comfortable asking said peers. ‘Should I’ is an obvious sign that people want advice. 

  • Queries around travel resurface as wannabe holidaymakers ask ‘should I book 2021 holiday’, expressing concern around whether such plans are sensible. ‘Should I cruise in 2021’ implies a fear around safety, especially taking into account how badly cruise ships were hit at the beginning of the pandemic.  
  • In a similar fashion, advice is being sought around weddings – ‘Should I cancel?’, ‘Should I postpone?’ as would-be brides and grooms try to figure out if and how their wedding will slot into 2021.  
  • It’s interesting to note the change of tone as the ‘should I’ switches to ‘should…’ on two occasions, both surrounding schooling. ‘Should 2021 exams be cancelled?’ ‘Should 2021 seniors take sat?’ Suddenly here the questions become impartial (and more Americanised in the case of the seniors). Could this be parents searching on behalf of their stressed-out kids? Or maybe somebody totally outside of the school sphere has heard a news story about exams which has piqued their interest?  
  • In non-Covid related news, consumers are also asking for advice about the latest carsiPad pros and football video games. It’s refreshing to know that not everybody’s searches are worrying about life-changing events like exams and weddings.  

4. Will … 2021?  

The difference between these above searches is the spacing. In pic 1, there are two spaces after ‘will’ and in pic 2 there is no extra spacing, just the autocomplete. It’s always a good idea to play around with spacing to see what suggestions come up.  
Try out with ‘I’ and ‘you’ when looking for personal searches, as both are common within search behaviour. (For full transparency, I also ran these searches with ‘next year’ instead of ‘2021’ which came up with mainly the same results.) 
  • Once again travel comes up top (terms highlighted in green), with the same noticeable interest in skiing. A couple of these queries could relate to Brexit (sorry, I broke my promise) such as ‘will I need a new passport in 2021?’ and ‘will you need a visa for Europe in 2021?’ but the rest of these seem strongly associated with the pandemic. An interesting one to note is ‘Will holidays in 2021 be more expensive?’ which this time doesn’t show any concern around the feasibility of holidays but solely the price. 
  • Weddings again are a big one (terms highlighted in orange) , with the saddening ‘Will I be able to get married in 2021?’. Not much new to say here, except you can imagine searchers constantly checking for the latest update about whether their wedding will take place. 
  • Lastly, we come back to financial queries (terms highlighted in blue). Many of these are around tax: ‘Will taxes go up in 2021?’‘Will I get a tax refund in 2021?’. With all the talk about tax increases to help fund the Government’s Covid spending, it’s natural that people will wonder about the impact on them. ‘Will house prices drop in 2021?’ or ‘Will the housing marketing crash in 2021?’ shows the uncertainty around real estate next year. Could this be first-time buyers wondering whether to wait? Or could this be people wanting more information after hearing rumours? 

5. Optimism 

I want to end on a positive note. Nobody knows the answer to ‘Will next year be normal?’ or ‘Will covid end in 2021?’ but searchers are reaching out to Google for reassurance and encouragement nevertheless. And lastly, as a zodiac enthusiast myself, I’m thrilled to see astrologists making a name for themselves among 2021 searches:

This brief insight into search behaviour around 2021 is just the tip of the iceberg. It will be fascinating to monitor how consumer needs and feelings are reflected in search throughout 2021 – the year of hope and uncertainty. If you’d like to dig a little deeper into search – may it be for your business or your own curiosity – we recommend you check out which gathers suggestions around a specific term all in one place. See this infographic to help you get started.  Or, give us a shout and we can help you with your search listening endeavors!

*Search suggestions from 16.12.2020