Google South Africa
(Photo Illustration by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Google Trends, used to track search volumes for specific terms in individual countries, was first launched in 2006.
  • In celebration of its 15 years in existence, Google has revealed South Africa’s top-searched for terms and topics.
  • The lists show what South Africans want to know more about when it comes to sport, celebrities, current affairs, food, jobs, and more.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa’s top internet searches over the past 15 years have been revealed by Google, identifying interests in sporting events, public figures, current affairs, and food.

To celebrate 15 years of Google Trends, the internet giant has ranked South Africa’s biggest questions and points of interest. Google Trends was first launched in 2006 and tracks the popularity of topics by measuring search volumes in specific regions – or globally – in real-time.  

Google Trends also allows users to compare search volumes across different search terms and topics. While its functionality in South Africa is limited to identifying daily trends, in the United States, Google Trends tracks real-time search volumes across all the states.

Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, which equates to over a billion worldwide searches every single day.

Where to stay, how to make money fast, how to make love, and what is love are some of the top questions South Africans have posed to Google over the past 15 years. How to kiss is a top question shared by South Africans and the world at large.

Here’s what else South Africans have been searching for online since 2006.

Sports events and tournaments

South Africa is a sport-loving nation and data from Google Trends shows that soccer – especially European competitions – is the most popular. Rugby comes in second and cricket doesn’t even feature.

La Liga, Champions League, and English Premier League are ranked as the top three searches over the past 15 years. PSL standings –one of only two local soccer tournaments in the top-ten searches – is the fourth highest search term.

There have been four Rugby World Cup tournaments since 2006. With South Africa winning two tournaments during that time – 2007 and 2019 – the Rugby World Cup is ranked as the fifth highest search term.

Famous South Africans

South Africans are interested in high-profile politicians but celebrities – especially reality show stars and musicians – take top honours among the most-searched public figures.

Cassper Nyovest, arguably the country’s most well-known rapper, who’s scooped numerous awards and packed stadiums during his rise to fame over the past decade, is the most searched-for South African, according to Google Trends.

South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, Julius Malema, firebrand leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Jacob Zuma, the controversial, currently incarcerated former head of state are ranked second to fourth as the most searched, respectively.

Bonang Matheba, the radio and television personality who launched her own her reality show in 2017, is the fifth most-searched South African.

Senzo Meyiwa is the only sporting star to feature in the top-ten, ostensibly related to interest in his murder in 2014 and the controversies surrounding the ensuing investigation.

Current affairs

South Africa’s search for information on current affairs is dominated by bad news.

Unsurprisingly, load shedding and the coronavirus in South Africa top the charts. The National Treasury comes in third.

South Africans have gone to the polls three times over the past 15 years to cast their votes in general elections. “Election Results” is the fourth most-searched term in South Africa.

Hoërskool Driehoek, which was the site of a fatal building collapse that killed four pupils in 2019, also features in the top-ten. Google searches for “Ramaphosa’s Wife” – Tshepo Motsepe – comes in ninth as South Africans yearned for more information about the First Lady.

Looking for work

Judging by Google Trends over the past 15 years, South Africans are interested in government jobs, particularly in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

Searches for Career Junction, Job Mail, and Gumtree Jobs – all websites which offer job listings – are also in the top-five.

“Eskom vacancies” is ranked fifth, followed closely by searches relating to government and Transnet vacancies.

Government services

As the department responsible for issuing ID documents and marriage, death, and birth certificates, it makes sense that “Home Affairs” tops the list of most-searched government services.

The department of labour and department of education follow in second and third respectively. The search for information on E-filing – the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) online tax returns submission portal – is ranked fourth.

Home affairs gets another special mention in fifth place, this time for searches for “Department of Home Affairs”.

Education

My Unisa, the online service for students enrolled at the University of South Africa, tops Google’s search traffic for educational services over the past 15 years. It is, after all, the largest university system by enrolment volume in the country.

Google Scholar, which allows users to search for scholarly literature, comes in second, followed closely by “UP portal”, the University of Pretoria’s (UP) student platform. “Puff and pass”, an online search site that connects students with jobs, internships, apprenticeships, and bursaries, is ranked fourth.

UP get another shot at top-searched list – this time with searches for “University of Pretoria” – and closes out the top-five.

South Africans searching for international celebrities

Like searches for famous South Africans, the list of searches for international celebrities is dominated by musicians and reality show stars.

Kim Kardashian, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, and Lil Wayne rank first to fourth, respectively.

Soccer star Christiano Ronaldo comes in fifth, followed by former US President Donald Trump, who’s the only political figure that managed to crack the top-ten.

Lyrics

Continuing with South Africa’s love for international musicians, the country’s searches for song lyrics are dominated by overseas celebrities, with a bit of gospel thrown in.

“All of me” by John Legend takes the top spot, followed by “Hallelujah” (originally recorded by Leonard Cohen). “Adele hello lyrics” – referring to the 2015 hit by the British singer-songwriter, Adele – comes in third.

The 2017 chart-topper, Despacito, helped along by Justin Bieber’s remix, is ranked fourth, followed by Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”. “Amazing grace lyrics” is the sixth most-searched for song in South Africa over the past 15 years.

Fast food in pole position

Romans Pizza beats South Africa’s favourite fast food franchise, KFC, for first place when it comes to South Africans using Google to search for food. KFC is followed by another chicken giant, Nandos, and Debonairs pizza.

Ocean Basket, one of the few non-fastfood entries comes in fifth. Searches for “Chicken Licken menu” comes in sixth, confirming South Africa’s love for chicken.

Health-related searches

Following on from South Africa’s love for fast food, it may seem strange, then, that the most-searched health-related term is “Banting diet” which became popular thanks to Tim Noakes’ “The Real Meal Revolution” published in 2015.

“Pregnancy signs” and “Apple cider vinegar” are ranked second and third respectively. Searches for the National Health Laboratory Service – in the form of “NHLS login” – are in fourth position. Searching for “symptoms of coronavirus” is fifth. Followed by “Chicken pox”.

Still trending after 15 years

Some of the trends identified are still dominating South African searches. On Wednesday 11 August, “Ramaphosa” was still the ninth most-searched term and, the day before, searches for “EFF Julius Malema” placed second. 

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