More by Correspondent and the Kenyan Zeitgeist and the Kenyan Zeitgeist

Around mid-late  December last year Google announced the results of their annual roundup of search terms both on a global and country by country basis.

Released via (‘Zeitgeist’ means “the spirit of the times”) the review is taken from billions of search terms over the year,  split into countries then categories and a top ten list published of each. One of the main thrusts this year was to show the fastest rising queries and “the rest of the spirit of 2011”

The full Kenyan position can be found under ‘searches around the world’ and a breakdown of these categories can be found here.

Now the confusion starts… there are at least two different types of categories, one is based on growth and one based on numbers of searches. ‘Oddly’ enough “Kenya” is the most popular search term in Kenya, and its been that way since records began in 2004. But “Big Meech” we very much doubt is the most popular man in Kenya, so why is he put at No1. in the fastest rising people in Kenya category? The answer is that ‘fastest rising’ means ‘growth’ or ‘percentage change’. Take an example, ‘x’ starts the year with an average two searches per day and rises over the year to 10 searches per day…growth 500%, ‘y’ starts the year with 100 searches per day and ends the year on 150 searches per day…growth 150%, so although ‘x’ is both smaller in magnitude and in numbers grown its percentage growth is higher, and from the figures shown in the Google charts this seems to be how they have interpreted some of the figures. If the inclusion of Demetrius Flenory, aka ‘Big Meech’ wasnt confusing, try the sports section….in the number one slot is the NBA (National Basketball Association) …really?  We said this survey wasn’t necessarily about popularity, but more to do with the up and comers…the rising trends, which Google hope could be an indicator for things to come in 2012. Well here is a couple a predictions from the Forum….Big Meech is still in gaol and not due for release until February 2032, so we can’t see his popularity rising much further, and since his death in 2011, it’s unlikely that Steve Jobs will be occupying the number two spot in 2012 either.

There is however, some sense in what Google are doing here. Having a big popular site is one thing, finding the next big growth area is another. Most of the big popular sites are already known to us. The ‘popularity’ as opposed to ‘searching’ of a site is more comprehensively covered by (although it does have its detractors) so we’ve included todays “Top 100 Kenyan Sites” as a pdf download at the bottom of this article. Have a quick look through it…you won’t find in the top 100, but that is not to say it wont be there in a years time, it will all depend on the social drivers which prompt internet activities. Searching for something on Google ‘sort of’ presupposes a lack of knowledge about a particular topic or site. If you are an Arsenal or Man.U fan you probably already know to go to or and if you were looking for someone on Facebook you would most likely look for them on www.facebook.comrather than Google. If on the other hand you’d just heard of a new music trend from a friend or read a snippet in the news, you might be tempted to ‘Google it’ to find out more…and it’s the concatenation of these types of searches that Google are picking up on and reporting this year. Large scale growth in  particular search terms can indicate a new rising phenomena, be it a pop star, social trend, mobile phone or political scandal.

Google provide all sorts of tools to aid the interrogation and interpretation of web searchs, one of the more useful being Insight. To make full use of it you’ll need to register with Google first. Once on the site you can discover the relative positions of any search term across countries and time and category. Don’t be surprised however if you discover that Google left one thing out of their Kenya roundup of 2011. As blogged by;  the pair of words ‘Muliro Gardens’ was actually the fastest rising search term in Kenya in 2011, and described by Google themselves as “Breakout” (which means greater than 5000% growth!) it grew to more than 10 times its nearest rival. What is it you ask? Well, we are afraid to say its one of the seedier aspects of Kenyan life and definitely not one for supper time discussion with the family…Google it yourself if you are really interested but dont tell the kids….


Related Articles