With Upskilling a Focus, Google’s Annual Report Maps out India’s Trends in Search

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2020 was a year that accelerated the relationship of the world with technology by leaps and bounds. India was no different.

With the digital medium and internet becoming quintessential to engagement, it led to an array of interesting and telling stats from the desi land.

Batting through this induced change with gusto and a willingness to adapt, Google’s annual Year in Search report has attempted to capture some interesting highlights from search results in India. Job search and health hogging the most attention, let us glance at some of the trends which emerged as the country battled valiantly against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Working through from the ground up, it is imperative to start from the state of internet usage in India. In 2020, the internet became the spine of the country, ushering in unprecedented digital adoption rates across the nation. There was a 42% increase in daily heavy internet users in the country, as per the report’s data.

The underlying reasons behind this boom can be attributed to the 3Vs in — Voice, Video, and Vernacular languages. Voice emerged as the preferred way to use Search and YouTube. Online Video too, broke through from being a tool used merely for entertainment to a destination for learning and sharing. All this, proving that language barriers were no more a hindrance to engage with services and progress.

Harnessing the full range of benefits of the local-centric approach, some of the numbers stacked by the Indians prove how much these features have enabled progress. Particularly, seeing the diversity and rural population across the length and breadth of the country.

  • 60% of users in India interacted with voice assistants via their smartphones, making mobile the preferred device for many.
  • A growing cohort of internet users chose to consume content in their mother tongue or use audio and video to find information. In India, the report found 90% of internet users opting to use their local language to search and carry out tasks online.
  • Last year, search queries for “translate” increased by over 50%, while 50% of Google Discover users consumed content in Indian languages.
  • In keeping with the requirement for keeping up to date with the developments of the outside world, an 80% YoY increase in Google searches for “local news” was recorded.
  • Searches with respect to language were led by Hindi, Telegu, and Tamil, registering increases of 25%, 30%, and 20% annually respectively.

With a re-evaluation of priorities on everybody’s cards, the pandemic hit year of 2020 also managed to shuffle everybody’s cards of budget allotment and redefined trends in values.

With the whole country confined indoors, customers broadened their fields of interest in online shopping and payments. Where buying groceries, browsing for appliances and gadgets, fitness equipment often took a back seat, the pandemic brought all of these factors to be addressed from the comforts of one’s couch.

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The following facts accrued by the Indian public in this theme paints an informative and relevant picture.

  • There was a 45 %increase in people shopping online in Rural India.
  • Health, undoubtedly on everybody’s mind, caused a 300% growth spurt in searches for “online doctor consultations”. The biggest surges came from Manipur, Odisha, and Bihar.
  • Gaming scored high on the agenda too. One-fourth of intenders were estimated to have paid for online games and are most likely to persist; whereas only a 20% portion of those who have not are likely to pay in the future.
  • When it came to spanning towards car searches, 24% of consumers who intend to buy a car claimed to prefer a “test drive at home”, thanks to the Covid-19 contracting fears.
  • Coming to the rudimentary needs, Indians now expect home deliveries for nearly every product and service. This is demonstrated by the 100%+ YoY growth in searches for “online delivery”.
  • In trying to secure themselves financially, there was a 50% YoY growth in search queries for the “invest” term.
  • Another huge benefactor, the OTT sector, saw a straight-up 33% growth.  For example, popular domestic OTT player Zee5 saw its subscriber base swell by as much as 80%, a trend forecasted to continue for the foreseeable future.

Last but not the least, with educational institutions across the country shut due to the pandemic wreaking havoc, learning and upskilling were the most of students’ worry. But the trends achieved by the sector really brought the all-weathering qualities of India to the fore. Some of the snapshots lay afoot a gritty picture.

  • As the medium of learning turned towards online channels, there was an 85% YoY growth in searches for “online course”, compared to a relative plateau seen in recent years.
  • As Indians turned to the internet to make their present lives easier and their future lives more sustainable, there was a 70% YoY growth in search queries for “how to make an app” and interest in YouTube searches for coding increased by 2.3x YoY.
  • Browsing for courses and general overall usage led to a 60% YoY increase in Google searches for “how to pay online”.
  • There was a keen interest demonstrated towards the financial aspect of learning, as evidenced by the upwards of 4x growth recorded in Google searches for “fundamentals of digital marketing”.
  • Unsurprisingly, with a youthful population getting restless at home, the increase in searches for WFH jobs rose by 140%. Search in online jobs as a whole increased by 50%.

One more notable stat is that of the UPI transactions taking place in the country during the peak of the pandemic in 2020. Digital payments on the whole shattered records as people adopted the online method of payments by virtue of both need and safety.

From all the profiles and trends which have dominated the searches on Google in India, it is clear to see the urge to adapt and rise above the current predicament. From all the layoffs and economic slowdown that have come to bear, armed with Google’s features, Indians are trying to enhance themselves and combat the circumstances.

With the year that has been and a fragmented future ahead, these trends stand India in good stead to drive recoveries.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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