The World Cup action stole Australians’ hearts in 2014 as the most searched-for term on the world’s number one search engine, Google.
It was otherwise a macabre top five, however, with downed aeroplanes MH17 and MH370 seeing Malaysia Airlines at number two, and comedian Robin Williams, media personality Charlotte Dawson and cricketer Phil Hughes, all of whom died before their time this year, rounding out the top five.
MH370 and Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and campaigner Bob Geldof, and who died of a heroin overdose, were also the top two trending news searches.
Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was the top-searched celebrity – no doubt spurred by news of the mass leak of nude celebrity photos by hackers, of which she was a prominent victim.
Topping the list of “Where is…?” search locations was Sochi, the little-known Russian city sparking lAustralian curiosity as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
MH370 ranked second, while “Where is Perth?”, curiously, ranked third.
Either we’re stupider than we look, or people were searching for some geographical context in relation to the missing MH370 flight, which is believed to have disappeared into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth.
“This is where the surface analytics of Google’s top 10 trends can be misleading – we should understand that Google releases these figures as much to promote its own business,” said Deakin University Professor of Internet Studies Matthew Allen.
Far from the internet making us stupid, Professor Allen said today people mainly used search engines to drill down further into the 24/7 news cycle and find in-depth information about current events, rather than trying to find out something they did not already know, as they might have 10 to 15 years ago.
“These are people who know things are going on and want rapid access to a whole bunch of links to news providers or Twitter streams, and the simplest way to do that is go to Google and type it in,” Professor Allen said.
The data also showed an “ecology” had grown between social media, traditional media and search, he said.
Phillip Hughes’ death was also the most popular subject of discussion on Twitter in 2014 in Australia.
“Alex from Target” – the humble young Texas retail worker whose photograph went inexplicably viral on social media – was the sixth most searched-for news item of the year.
And, after Ebola, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neurone disease) was the second-most searched for “What is…?” term, boosted by the viral success of the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign on social media, which was launched to raise awarenes of the condition.
Google’s Shane Treeves said the increasing use of search terms reflecting natural speech – such as “What is”, “Where is”, “Who is” and “How to” – reflected both how Google’s algorithms had evolved and also the increased use of mobile and voice search apps.
“We are seeing more downloads of the Google search app across Android and iOS – more people are using Google on smartphones and tablets, not just on their desktop or browser,” Mr Treeves said.
Other popular search terms point not to news events but changing national trends.
Paleo Recipes slipped in at number 10 of the top recipe searches – the only diet that ranked anywhere – while apparently the humble pancake is back on the menu at number one.
Crochet, knitting and meditation were among the top five “how to” searches.
And in the constantly changing world of internet trends, 2014 was the year that popular hook-up app Tinder became mainstream.
It was the top trending digital/internet slang word, and also ranked number five among “What is…?” searches.
Google’s “Trending” searches are calculated by how much a term has spiked in use compared with the previous year, the company’s Mr Treeves said.
It was the second year that micro-video app Vine, and virtual currencies Bitcoin and Dogecoin, made it into the top 10 tech search trends.
Rival search engine Bing, powered by Microsoft, did not release its top 10 overall search trends, opting instead to list popular categories.
Its most popular celebrity search was Australian model Miranda Kerr, with Robin Williams coming in at number three and Jennifer Lawrence at number five.
MH370, Ebola and MH17 topped news and current affairs searches, and the World Cup was the most searched-for sports term.
Bing’s top three tech searches were the iPhone 6, Xbox One and iPad.
Google’s top 10 trending tech terms
3. Goat Simulator
Bing’s top 10 tech searches
1. iPhone 6
2. XBOX One
5. Samsung Galaxy 5
7. Surface Pro 3
9. Google Glass
10. iPad Mini