Top Yahoo searches of 2016: Brexit, the Olympics, and Donald Trump


Brexit, the Olympics, Euro 2016 and Donald Trump dominate online searches in 2016 in Yahoo’s annual reflection of Britain’s search habits and trends.


Yahoo Year in Review rankings, gleaned from billions of online searches on Yahoo in 2016, reveal Donald Trump as the UK’s most searched politician this year, and the fourth most searched term overall.

Politics proves popular as Brexit, US elections, and the Labour and Tory leadership contests rank among the top five news stories of the year.

The key headlines are that politics fascinated UK internet users more than sport, TV, or celebrity gossip in 2016, with Brexit named as the most searched item by Yahoo users in the UK this year.

Politics has been the undisputed frontrunner in the race for news headlines, with the US election being the second most searched news item, followed by the Tory leadership contest in third. And it’s certainly been a star-spangled year, with Donald Trump coming in fourth on the overall list of most searched terms, and top of the list for most searched politicians.

In a year of big personalities, Holly Willoughby took the crown for the most searched celebrity, beating Cheryl into second place, and just pipping her to fifth spot on Yahoo’s overall list.

But 2016 has also been a year in which we’ve lost many treasured figures, and the news of David Bowie’s passing rocked the nation, as he was the seventh most searched term this year, and the most searched for celebrity we’ve lost.

A big year for politics

Politics gripped UK internet users more than sport, TV, or celebrity gossip in 2016, with Brexit being the term Yahoo users in the UK searched for the most this year. Yahoo’s Year in Review reveals the biggest news stories, social trends and obsessions of 2016, based on the billions of searches made on Yahoo Search over the course of the past year.

The EU referendum is the big victor in 2016, with ‘Brexit’ claiming the title of ‘most searched term’, as well as the most searched news story of the year. Elsewhere on the news agenda, the US election was the second most searched news item, followed by the Tory leadership contest at number three.

In a politically turbulent year, Donald Trump’s incendiary statements, controversial policies, and social media gaffes earned him the number four slot on the news list and rocketed him to the top of the list of most searched political figures. The Donald also stole third place in this year’s list of obsessions, behind Brexit in first and the Olympics in second.

Sporting highlights

2016 has been a big year for sport too, with the Olympics and Euro 2016 at second and third place on the podium for Top 10 searches overall. Murray Mania showed no signs of slowing either, as Andy Murray ranks first on the sports people list for the second year in a row, adding to the accolade of his new number one seed ranking on the court. He also takes eighth place on the overall list of search terms.

Sadly, 2016 has been a year where many treasured figures were lost and the news of David Bowie’s passing rocked the nation. He is the seventh most searched term this year and the most searched for celebrity from the in memoriam category.

The Top 10 of EVERYTHING in 2016

1. Brexit
2. Olympics
3. Euro 2016
4. Donald Trump
5. Holly Willoughby
6. Cheryl
7. David Bowie
8. Game of Thrones
9. Andy Murray
10. Celebrity Big Brother

What made the NEWS in Yahoo 2016 searches?

1. Brexit
2. US elections
3. Tory leadership
4. Pound exchange rate
5. Labour leadership
6. Madeleine McCann
7. Calais migrants
8. Oscar Pistorius
9. Celebrity injunction
10. Turkey unrest

Top Trumps – ‘The Donald’ heads this year’s POLITICS list

1. Donald Trump
2. Theresa May
3. David Cameron
4. Jeremy Corbyn
5. Hillary Clinton
6. Jo Cox
7. Nigel Farage
8. Andrea Leadsom
9. Boris Johnson
10. Nicola Sturgeon

On the celebrity list, Holly Willoughby nabs the prize for the most searched celebrity, beating Cheryl into second place, and just pipping her to the fifth spot on Yahoo’s overall list. Meanwhile, as Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian’s real-world feud rages on, Taylor has the upper hand in the digital realm, securing sixth place on the most searched celebrity list, against Kim’s seventh. Having been crowned top of the celebrity list in 2015, the Duchess of Cambridge fell eight places to number nine this year.

As well as the passing of David Bowie, 2016 was a year in which we lost other prominent musicians, including Prince (No.2) and Leonard Cohen (No.4). Veteran broadcaster Terry Wogan appears in third and boxer Muhammad Ali, a legend in and out of the ring, takes fifth in the in memoriam list.

CELEBRITIES – Holly’s riding high!

1. Holly Willoughby
2. Cheryl
3. Susanna Reid
4. Michelle Keegan
5. Adele
6. Taylor Swift
7. Kim Kardashian
8. Amanda Holden
9. Duchess of Cambridge
10. Katie Price

IN MEMORIAM – Bowie is our Starman

1. David Bowie
2. Prince
3. Terry Wogan
4. Leonard Cohen
5. Muhammad Ali
6. Alan Rickman
7. Paul Daniels
8. Victoria Wood
9. Caroline Aherne
10. Ronnie Corbett

In the sporting world, tennis is champion once again, with Britain’s ace Andy Murray reaching the number one position on the sports superstars list for the second year in a row, followed by Johanna Konta in the number two spot. Maria Sharapova comes in sixth place, and Serena Williams clinches the ninth spot.

Less than twelve months after taking on the manager’s role at Manchester United, polarising character Jose Mourinho proved he’s still ‘The Special One’, as the most searched for football personality and the third most searched sports personality overall.

During the fortnight of the Olympics, no one outran Usain Bolt and he is the most searched Olympian, beating UK national treasures Nicola Adams (No. 2), Laura Trott (No. 5) and Andy Murray (No. 6).


1. Andy Murray
2. Johanna Konta
3. Jose Mourinho
4. Michael Schumacher
5. Oscar Pistorius
6. Maria Sharapova
7. Victoria Pendleton
8. Cristiano Ronaldo
9. Serena Williams
10. Muhammad Ali


1. Jose Mourinho
2. Adam Johnson
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
4. Lionel Messi
5. Sam Allardyce
6. Ched Evans
7. Jamie Vardy
8. Gareth Bale
9. Gary Lineker
10. Paul Pogba

Which OLYMPIAN took the gold?

1. Usain Bolt
2. Nicola Adams
3. Siobhan-Marie O'Connor
4. Katherine Grainger
5. Laura Trott
6. Andy Murray
7. Adam Peaty
8. Jade Jones
9. Mo Farah
10. Tom Daley

The UK continued its infatuation with fantasy power struggle Game of Thrones. The show takes the top spot as the most searched TV show, as well as the sixth slot on the overall obsessions list. In the battle for Saturday night, Strictly Come Dancing waltzes into third place for TV shows. Eastenders is the most searched soap in fourth place, with Coronation Street and Emmerdale landing at sixth and seventh respectively.

In addition to TV dramas, people were also drawn to celebrity dramas in 2016. Cheryl’s very public love life sees her take fifth place on the 2016 obsessions list, while celebrity couples ‘Hiddleswift’ and ‘Brangelina’ appear in eighth and ninth.

Game of Thrones takes the crown in most searched TV

1. Game of Thrones
2. Celebrity Big Brother
3. Strictly Come Dancing
4. Eastenders
5. Big Brother
6. Coronation Street
7. Emmerdale
8. The Voice
9. The Walking Dead
10. Top Gear

Brexit is the top OBSESSION in 2016

1. Brexit
2. Olympics
3. Donald Trump
4. Royal family
5. Cheryl
6. Game of Thrones
7. Pokemon Go
8. Hiddleswift
9. Brangelina
10. Great British Bake Off

Apple took a bite out of the tech world with the iPhone topping the consumer tech list, above mobile phone rivals Samsung Galaxy (no.2) and Sony Xperia (no.9). This year’s surge in wearables and health tracking sees Fitbit leap into third place on the list, beating gaming consoles Xbox (no.4) and Playstation (no.5) in the rankings.

Meanwhile, the build-it-yourself craze triumphed in the gaming arena, as Roblox and Minecraft took first and third place on the gaming list. Despite huge publicity for Pokemon Go – and a seventh place ranking on the obsessions list – Pokemon only manages sixth place when it comes to games searches, though this outstripped other mobile games such as Candy Crush (no.8) and Forge of Empires (no.9).

Apple leads the way for top TECH

1. iPhone
2. Samsung Galaxy
3. Fitbit
4. Xbox
5. Playstation
6. Amazon fire stick
7. GoPro
8. Drones
9. Sony Xperia
10. Apple Watch

GAMING - Roblox absorbs our attention!

1. Roblox
2. Agario
3. Minecraft
4. Slitherio
5. Happy Wheels
6. Pokemon
7. Spider Solitaire
8. Candy Crush
9. Forge of Empires
10. FIFA 17

It appears the classics can’t be beaten when shopping for Christmas 2016. Lego has built itself up to top the list of kids’ toys, as the brand enjoys a fantastic resurgence for a new generation of amateur builders. TV show Peppa Pig hogs second place, as the hit programme’s merchandise proves popular yet again, while familiar 20th century brands take their place in the top five, with My Little Pony in third and Barbie in fourth.

The KIDS are alright – Top 10 toys

1. Lego
2. Peppa Pig
3. My Little Pony
4. Barbie
5. Paw Patrol
6. Thomas the Tank Engine
7. Shopkins
8. Power Rangers
9. Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom
10. Ben 10

Top 10 QUESTIONS in 2016 – what’s on our minds?

1. Who is the celebrity with super injunction?
2. Who called me?
3. When is Easter?
4. How do I set Yahoo as my homepage?
5. What is my IP?
6. How to write a CV
7. How much is my car worth?
8. How to change password?
9. What time is it?
10. How to make pancakes?

BREXIT topics

1. Pound falls
2. EU Referendum
3. Pre-referendum polls
4. Tory leadership
5. Legal challenges to Brexit
6. Brexit negotiations
7. David Cameron resignation
8. Jo Cox murder
9. Nigel Farage
10. Andrea Leadsom

About the Yahoo Year in Review Methodology

To develop the Yahoo Year in Review, our editors analyse Yahoo Search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth from previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. Individuals and their Search queries always remain anonymous. This list is constructed without navigational searches – i.e. searches where the intention is clearly purely to navigate to a site rather than to discover information.

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