TORONTO - Canadians may be among the most digitally savvy in the world but perhaps a lesson in using Google is in order.
The search giant released its annual lists of the most popular searches on Thursday and the biggest query of the year was www.census2011.gc.ca.
Even Google is at a loss to explain why so many Canadians typed the URL for the Canadian census site into the search engine, rather than just accessing the address directly.
“It's peculiar,” said Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle.
“Typing in 'census' would've made more sense to me as well but I guess there were millions and millions of Canadians that must've put in the URL.”
But perhaps the top search shouldn't be a surprise, considering how users typically use the search engine.
The search for www.census2011.gc.ca was actually the “fastest-rising” query of the year, while the absolute most common search was “Facebook.” In its annual lists, Google strips out the most common searches that are perennially on top and instead highlights the year's new search terms that grew in popularity the most.
For several years, Facebook has been the top search of the year on Google - even though it would take just a few extra taps to enter the .com and go directly to the site. Other top searches in Canada this year include youtube, toronto, you, hotmail, kjiji, weather, games and yahoo, illustrating that users often use a Google search as a way to click onto their favourite sites.
Bizarrely, “google” is consistently one of the year's top searches on Google.
Second on Google's fastest-rising list for 2011 was Skyrim, shorthand for one of the biggest video games of the year, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” Canada Post strike, Rebecca Black, Ryan Dunn, Japan earthquake, Game of Thrones, Jack Layton, Royal wedding, and Google Plus rounded out the top 10.
Another interesting set of searches Google tracked relates to users' questions starting with “What is.” The most common of those searches was “What is love?,” followed by “What is Wikipedia?,” “What is Android?,” “What is Tumblr?,” “What is 3g?,” “What is gluten?,” “What is depression?, ”What is planking?,“ ”What is global warming?,“ and ”What is dubstep?“