BY JAMES NDONE
Online classifieds portal OLX and the English Premier League (EPL) topped the most searched topics on the internet in Kenya in 2014, according to a report by search engine giant Google Search.
The report offers a sneak peek into the year’s major events and top trends based on the top searches, helping rank what caught the eyes of Kenyans.
Formerly referred to as “Zeitgeist (German for “the spirit of the times,”) Google rebranded the report to “Year in Search” to offer insights into how people around the world use the most popular search engine. This involves trending events, personalities, topics, websites and memes that made Kenyans go online in the year 2014. The new report rounds up events on a macro-level with inspiring ‘story’ pages for each of the top result, giving details and other relevant information to help in understanding the concept. It also dives into specifics that people are looking for.
“We are doing our best at Google to make Search easy for Kenyans and more concise as this is what makes us stand out in a market flooded by many search engines,” said Mr Charles Muritu, Google Country Manager Kenya.
Coming at number three is the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) which made headlines in 2014 over delayed remittance of college bursaries.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Government Human Resource Information System (GHRIS) were also among the most searched, as Kenyans embrace e-government services. Kenyans seem to be looking for locations and places on Google Maps with many searching for travel services from Kenya Airways. Google Translate, Bible and Kenyatta University made it to popularity list.
“There is a difference between the most trending and most searched,” noted Ms Dorothy Ooko, Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager for East and Francophone Africa. She said the most searched was due to volumes while the trending kept on changing due to spikes. The top trending entails the highest amount of traffic on Google over a specific period.
The top trending topic was World Cup 2014 held in Brazil. Football also took centre-stage, with Angel Di Maria, an Argentine who left Real Madrid in the summer for Manchester United for a British record £59.7 million getting a spot in the top 10 trending. The player was named man of the match in UEFA Champions League final after producing a glinting performance against local rivals Atletico Madrid. Besides, Juan Mata who was sold by Chelsea to Manchester United in January, was also among the top trending topics in Kenya.
Kenyans also went online to seek more information on Otieno Kajwang’s death, the Homa Bay senator who passed on in November due to cardiac arrest. Most sought for information was about cardiac arrest, its causes and ways to prevent it.
Further, controversial socialite Vera Sidika was among the trending topics in Kenya after she appeared on NTV’s The Trend programme. The show also got a slot in top 10 most viewed videos on YouTube.
The Ebola epidemic, which tore through West Africa, was also part of Kenya’s search list. Kenyans calling for national carrier Kenya Airways to abandon their flights to West Africa was a major driver in the search.
The death of Dr Myles Munroe, a pastor who died in a jet crash, was also listed among the trending topics. Besides, Maya Angelou’s death also made Kenyans go online, looking for her poems and other literary works. Searches for depression tests and mental health increased in the wake of the death of Robin Williams, an Oscar-winning comedian, who passed on due to suspected depression.
The ‘how to” trending searches had ‘how to survive’ as number one in this category. How to network, how to date, how to CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation), how to breastfeed, how to lie, how to model, how to write, how to photoshop and how to dunk were also among the leading searches.
With Mexican soap operas dominating our television stations, Corazon Indomable was a trending search as Kenyans sought to know more about the telenovela’s plot and episodes. Besides, online dating also spiked in 2014, showing that people are trusting virtual dates. Google Translate was also used as Kenyans ‘Googled’ synonyms of technical jargon they encountered within the year.
The young generation was reported to be driving the search in Kenya. This was evident from searches on HELB and Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS), a state-owned body that co-ordinates the placement of government-sponsored students to universities and colleges.
Kenya, like the rest of the world, did not escape the meme craze that swirled the internet. Kermit memes took the first position in trending memes even as Kenyans demonstrated their creativity by creating memes about Joseph Ole Lenku, former Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. Gym memes, World Cup Memes, Harry Potter Memes, IB Memes, Coding Memes and Funny Memes trended this year.
In terms of cities, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu residents have different tastes. Mombasa residents’ main interest was wazua.co.ke, an online platform that talks about wealth and development, iPhone 6, Technical University of Mombasa, World Cup 2014, Pwani University, CoopNet (Cooperative Networking), Qatar Airways Careers, Mombasa OLX, Dj Bobo and Zumba for Beginners.
In Kisumu, Maseno University took the first position in trending searches. The city also had the highest number of searches related to education with University of Nairobi, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya National Examinations Council Results and Mount Kenya University. Other searches were OCLC Classify, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), EPL table, Google Translate and Ali Kiba, a Tanzanian musician. Interestingly, searches for Nairobi were same as the general trending searches, a confirmation that a large number of internet users come from Nairobi and this determines the general searches in Kenya.
Globally, the world was sad about the demise of Robin Williams, excited to watch the World Cup and worried about Ebola. The three topics top the list of global trending searches which also includes missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the Ice Bucket Challenge and addictive smartphone game Flappy Bird.