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Covid terms top Google’s ‘near me’, ‘how to’ searches

Similarly, in the ‘How to’ category, the top five search queries were: ‘How to register for Covid vaccine’, ‘How to download vaccination certificate’, ‘How to increase oxygen level’, ‘How to link PAN with AADHAAR, and ‘How to make oxygen at home’.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
December 9, 2021 4:02:19 am
In comparison, during 2020, the top five ‘near me’ search queries were: ‘Food shelters near me’, ‘Covid test near me’, ‘Crackers shop near me’, ‘Liquor shops near me’, and ‘Night shelter near me’.

The intensity of Covid-19 spread during the second surge earlier this year is reflected in internet search queries made in the country, with ‘Covid vaccine near me’, ‘Covid test near me’, ‘Food delivery near me’, ‘Oxygen cylinder near me’ and ‘Covid hospital near me’ being among the top searched queries in the ‘near me’ category in India during 2021, according to Google.

Similarly, in the ‘How to’ category, the top five search queries were: ‘How to register for Covid vaccine’, ‘How to download vaccination certificate’, ‘How to increase oxygen level’, ‘How to link PAN with AADHAAR, and ‘How to make oxygen at home’.

Shortage of oxygen cylinders grappled Covid-19 patients during the second surge, which lasted from late March till June. Notably, the peak interest in most of these Covid-related terms happened during April, but the search terms continued to top the charts even at the end of the year.

In comparison, during 2020, the top five ‘near me’ search queries were: ‘Food shelters near me’, ‘Covid test near me’, ‘Crackers shop near me’, ‘Liquor shops near me’, and ‘Night shelter near me’.

In the ‘How to’ category, the top five search queries last year were: ‘How to make paneer’, ‘How to increase immunity’, ‘How to make dalgona coffee’, ‘How to link PAN card with aadhaar card, and ‘How to make sanitizer at home’.

Back in April, in line with the nationwide spike in cases, search queries representing people looking for Covid-19 essentials such as Remdesivir injections, RT-PCR tests, oxygen cylinders and hospital beds had surged on Google.

As an example, compared to the third-ranked ‘How to’ query this year — ‘How to increase oxygen level’ — last year’s top ‘How to’ query — ‘How to make paneer’ — had witnessed a lower peak.

The numbers on the Google Search trends represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. As per Google, the suffix “near me” to a search term indicates a “signal of intent” by those running that query on the search engine.

“‘Near me’ searches this year were especially evocative of the year that was, with searches on Covid Vaccine, Covid tests, Covid hospital filling up the top slots. Searches for oxygen cylinders and CT scans also witnessed a spike as people fought the tide of the pandemic over the course of the year. In addition, queries on food deliveries, tiffin services and takeout restaurants also surged with people looking to ride out the intermittent lockdowns,” it said in a statement.

Among the overall search queries though, cricket continued to top the charts in India, with ‘Indian Premier League’ and ‘ICC T20 World Cup’ filling the first and third spots, split by ‘CoWIN’. At fourth and fifth were ‘Euro Cup’ and ‘Tokyo Olympics’, respectively.

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