Do You Know How to Tie a Tie?

29 September 2017

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 September 29, 2017
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How would you feel if everyone could see your search history?

Don’t worry, we’re not announcing that Google has decided to publicise our deepest, darkest search secrets for the world to enjoy. Not yet, anyway.

What they have done, in collaboration with visual data journalist Xaquin G.V., is create a website dedicated to presenting data on 100 of the most popular ‘how to’ questions, all of which are typed into Google by information-hungry searchers across the globe on a daily basis.

The meaning of life – or making fried rice

The website, called how-to-fix-a-toilet.com, highlights the volume of search data around some of the planet’s most answer-defying, mind-boggling, life-changing questions. Forget traversing unknown planets or understanding the meaning of life – mankind has some more…down to earth issues we’re looking for assistance with. Anyone know how to tie a tie? Well, if you do, you might be in the minority.

Who knew so many people needed the help of good ol’ Google to change a light bulb? You’re also not alone if, like me, you’ve enlisted the information gods to enlighten you on how to boil an egg. Timing is everything, FYI. The appearance of ‘how to cook quinoa’ in the top 100 is sure to make millennials and superfood fans everywhere proud, too.

Marketers and people in-the-know are aware that ‘how to’ searches are on the rise, with Search Engine Journal reporting a 140% growth in the last 13 years for queries beginning with ‘how to’. This also applies on YouTube, where ‘how to’ searches on the platform saw a 70% growth year-on-year from 2015. That’s a lot of people interested in watching ‘how to’ advice on removing wallpaper and perfecting a man bun. Perhaps not at the same time. Although maybe that’s the true skill?

Inside the mind of humankind

Fortunately for us egg-boiling, light bulb-changing, tie-tying mortals, the mighty Google is here to help. With stats showing staggering numbers like 40,000 search queries every second, on average, it’s become clear that many of us rely on Google when it comes to hunting out answers.

The Telegraph published a list of the Top 10 Google UK trending searches of 2016, with ‘how to vote for EU referendum’ and ‘how to get an Irish passport’ giving somewhat of an insight into what was going on in the country at the time. Wonder what the correlation is with ‘how to accept myself for who I am’ appearing in the same list?

It’s not all practicalities and technical skills, though. Turns out that we human folk also like to confess our more tender concerns to search engines, who are, for now, unable to laugh at us. Fortunately.

With questions like ‘how to kiss’, which actually came 2nd overall, and ‘how to tell if a guy likes you’ appearing in the top 100, it’s evident that the world of search has made it into all aspects of our lives – from the kitchen to the bedroom. Although we’re not sure how trusting we are of headlines like “Exactly How To Know FOR SURE If A Guy Likes You!” in the SERPs, personally.

So, are there some things that pesky machines don’t yet know? Perhaps. But don’t get too comfortable. With voice search becoming more and more prominent, it may not be long before little Miss Siri starts having a cheeky giggle at the inner-workings of our not-so-innocent minds. That Alexa always has had a judgemental tone…

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