10 Search Trends Shared by Russians and Americans in 2015

Last year Russian Search Marketing compared the 2014 search trends of Russians and Americans, noting the data that showed the similarities among users of two nations that seemed split over geo-political tensions. A year (and multiple developments between Russia and the US) later we can look at the most recent data for 2015 searches and confirm that Russians and Americans continue to have unique interests but also show a number of similarities in how they use their local search engine and what they care about searching.

For the most part, our interests in the US focus on what is going on domestically but we also took interest in many international topics.  From our excitement over the Pope’s visit to the US to our support for our athletes competing in Women’s World Cup, we entered millions of queries to learn more about events and people last year.  The list tells us a lot about what happened during the year but more importantly what we wanted to know and what mattered to us. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t Google it…right? We were all really concerned about the Paris attacks but we also cared about stuff like that blue/gold dress…

Same goes for Russians. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t Yandex it.  A number of domestic and international topics influenced Russian searches throughout the year. Among other events the anniversary of the Soviet Victory Day in World War II impacted Russians’ search categories. Russians mainly searched for domestic celebrities but a few foreign stars made the top lists like Game of Thrones star, Emilia Clarke.  Russians also had several unique searches for things like the opening of the Oceanarium in Moscow or a Youtube series called Mister Max’s video blog.

While we certainly prove to be quite different from our Russian counterparts in terms of our background, language, and cultural norms, the Internet continues to bring us closer together as our worlds overlap online and we all have access to multiple news sources, social media, and clothing stores among a bunch of other aspects of our globalized world.  Less than 25 years ago Soviets didn’t have access to any of this. Now Russians have the option to order Papa John’s, buy Levi jeans, read how US news sources are reporting on topics of their interest, and end their day watching House of Cards -all of this can be done online. It’s quite remarkable to reflect on the way globalization is bringing us closer together but even more so the way the Internet has impacted this process.

While we may search for different people or events, the same topics matter to Russians and Americans.  We often like a lot of the same stuff too – like styles or movies.  This blog outlines similarities seen in ten common search trends in the US and Russia that show our shared interests and search behavior over the course of the year.

We take interest in political figures

In the US, we are searching and learning more about the presidential campaigns by way of the Internet.  Americans searched the most for Donald Trump followed by other familiar names plus Deez Nuts. Seriously hats off to that kid. Jimmy Carter and Justin Tredeau were the only two people on the top ten list that aren’t part of the presidential race. In Russia, people took interest in a number of political personalities including Boris Nemtsov, which most readers should be familiar with after his death in Moscow last March and of course, Putin.

We like going to the movies and we use search engines to help us now

It’s becoming more and more common for people to search for the movie they want to see knowing they will get search results that help them buy tickets to theaters located nearby.  “50 Shades of Grey” was the number one movie search in Russia for the year. It wasn’t the number one movie in the US but still made Google’s top four. Compared to last year when Russians and Americans searched for two of the same movies the most, more of Russians’ top movie searches for this year mirrored Americans including Avengers, Inside out, Minions, Furious 7, and Mad Max.

We get jazzed up about new car models..and old models too

When new car models come out, users like to search online to learn more about the cars. Interestingly, both Americans and Russians showed the most interest in domestic automobile brands.  In the US, people were most excited about the 2016 Chevy Malibu and 2016 Chevy Silverado. Similarly, Russians were most excited about the latest model of the Russian car company Lada. On the day of Marty McFly’s arrival, which was a top Yandex search, Auto.ru (owned by Yandex) brought Doc’s car to Yandex headquarters in Moscow and sold it online.

We were worried about Paris

The Paris terror attacks were a very big search for both American and Russians in 2015.  The subject topped the searches in both Russia and the US, as people tried to figure out what transpired and if people were safe.  In addition to the concern and sorrow felt, fear was likely a motivating factor in a lot of these searches.  Like many other places, both the US and Russia faced terror threats prior to and following the events in Paris.  Citizens around the world share the same concern and feelings on this.

We watch the same TV shows

Despite having a number of popular domestic shows on the Yandex top search list, Russians search and watch more American shows. Game of Thrones was the most popular TV search in Russia for the second year in a row but the fourth most popular search in the US. Both users in the US and Russia also searches for Fear of the Walking Dead.

We participated in Dressgate

The blue gold dress debate that went viral on the Internet drew attention in both the US and Russia. The event questioning the color of a dress posted on Tumblr tested everyone’s perception of color and light but more significantly showed us a great example of the way things go viral and spark our interest.  We also learned that we like using the Internet to participate in social events and posted over 10 million tweets about the topic.

We got super into memes and GIFs and other dumb videos this year

Our Google searches show there were a number of GIFs and memes that got our attention this year like”Just do it.” We love silly videos and following people on Instagram who post great memes. Thanks in large part to our smartphones, it’s become a trend that grew popular enough to get its own category on the Google review this year. More people have texted or messaged me memes in response to things this year than in years past.  My Russian colleagues are definitely up to speed (and quite funny) when it comes to meme and GIF use. Russians reference tons of American pop culture but also have their own Internet trends including the aforementioned video series called “Mr. Max” and the Nichosi meme.

We learn of losses online

When a celebrity dies, our search patterns show that this is an important moment that matters to both Americans and Russians.  With the amount of publicity celebrities receive, many people feel close to these individuals, so when something happens to them people show concern and pay their respects through a number of ways (a lot of which manifests itself in social media these days).  Google even dedicated a “losses” section to their top searches for 2015.  The mystery over Lamar Odom’s health was the number one search for Google in 2015, that says a lot about what people want to know.  Although a very different situation and mystery, the death of Boris Nemtsov was Russians’ top search for 2015.

We love our country’s top sport

While Americans were busy searching for the New England Patriots as the top NFL team for 2015, Russians were searching more for hockey. Russian Internet users searched more for the Russian national team and specific games against teams like Canada and the US. However, searches for the KHL were still prevalent in 2015.  Google didn’t even feature a section for NHL searches (yikes) but the Tampa Bay Lightning made the top sports team searches.

We are into a game called Agar.io

Agar.io was the top search for video games on both Google and Yandex in 2015. I’m going to be honest, I had to look it up.  People love this game that includes controlling cells on a petri dish.  A number of other video games were just as popular among Russians as they were Americans.  The top searches for games on Yandex that overlapped with US Google searches were Fallout 4, Call of Duty, and Mortal Combat X.

Conclusions:

Domestic events and cultural norms have a big impact on the way people (in this case, Americans and Russians) use the Internet or what they search as well.  There are tons and tons of reasons Internet behavior varies across the world but there are also lots of ways that the Internet has enhanced our unity and showed us that despite a lot of reasons nations act and think differently (online and offline) the Internet is also bringing us closer together by giving us all access to more of the same things.  This data reminds us that we have more in common with our foreign counterparts than we may think.

Although this blog focused on the main topics of our interest, it’s important to remember that how we search and use the Internet in the US is often quite developed compared to other places like Russia.  Users’ familiarity with the Internet and search engines influences how they search or what they are searching. Navigational and informational queries even differ by regions of Russia where Internet use varies. Behavior of those on a phone can contrast from those on a desktop and for many Russians, phones may be the main or only Internet source.  It will be continuously interesting to watch search patterns evolve worldwide as Internet use grows, our device choice changes, and new technology emerges.