Local flavours of Indian netizens

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Updated: Dec 24 2012, 21:53pm hrs
From internet banking to e-commerce and entertainment to education, Indian netizens in 2012 were busy looking for services on the Web which drove search volumes in the year. While users on their personal computers searched for Institute of Banking Personnel Selection and GATE exams, the searches on mobiles included songs and YouTube.

In fact, opening up of the countrys retail sector had an impact on the netizens also as they started warming up to e-commerce with a positive shift in the users perception on purchasing gadgets, books, accessories and more online.

These are the findings of the Google Zeitgeist 2011, which is a compilation of top search keywords by Google that users have been using throughout the year. Google reveals the internet Zeitgeist (German for the spirit of the times) through an exploration of the over one trillion search queries we receive each year. In addition to the year-end Zeitgeist, which highlights the top trends of 2012, we also have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends.

Rajan Anandan, vice-president and managing directorsales and operations, Google India, said, Googles 2012 Zeitgeist reflects data from 1.2 trillion searches in 146 languages globally. With 137 million users, India is the worlds third largest internet market and is a good barometer of trends in Indian society as a whole.

However, Google Zeitgeist tools can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymised, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur over time. With more institutions moving their services online for greater convenience, searches for them ticked upward accordingly. For instance, banks emerged as one of the most popular categories, with internet banking being the most frequently searched query within the category.

Taking an interesting diversion from the results of 2011, which reflected the emphasis on people and event related searches, internet users in India have now started using the Web for their personal needsshopping, booking tickets, and making informed decisions for their offline purchases.

With growing smartphone adoption, mobile searches continued to grow with over 70 million mobile internet users. We expect Indias next 150180 million internet users will access the internet through their mobile devices. This means that the information that these users will look for will need to be more local and meaningful as already reflected in the kind of search trends were seeing in the country, Anandan added.

An analysis of the top searched travel websites showed that while railways, airline tickets, and hotel booking sites were an obvious trend, a bus booking portalredbus.in featured at number 3 in the list, marking a new trend in how Indians prefer to travel.

This is in sharp contrast of the 2011 results which had Rebecca Black at number one, Google+ at number two and Ryan Dunn, who was best known for his daredevil stunts, was at number three. Fourth and Fifth spots went to Casey Anthony and Battle field 3 respectively.

This year, exams, traditionally pen-and-ink affairs, are also moving online as IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection), GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) and CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) came in at numbers 1, 2 and 6 in the top overall trending list respectively. This shows that young Indians are showing a great deal of interest in government jobs.

Another fascinating trend was the warming up of Indian netizens to e-commerce. There is definitely a positive shift in the users perception on purchasing gadgets, books, accessories and more online. While business brands rode on this trend, celebrities leveraged social media to build their brands as well. Users searched for politicians and celebrities who were either present through their own social media channels or in news for their active online presence.

Zeitgeists India data also gave an interesting view of what is troubling Indian usersit seems like global economic turmoil kept Indians worried, with Sensex being the top searched event this year. Prominent deathsincluding those of Vilasrao Deshmukh and Rajesh Khannamade it to the list as well.

From an information perspective, education and examination related searches also drew consumers to use the Web for search, with banking and engineering related aptitude examinations topping the trends list throughout the year. Overall, IGNOU was the most searched university across India.