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The top Google searches of 2014

Internet giant Google has published its annual list of its most popular searches for 2014, revealing the biggest news stories and trends that have captured the public's imagination in the past year.

The search engine's "Year in Search 2014," looked at trillions of searches made worldwide over the last year from "how to…" searches to major news stories such as the Ebola outbreak and developments in the ISIS conflict in the Middle East.


Hand touching screen with Google's website displayed
Philippe Huguen | AFP | Getty Images

Robin Williams, the actor who took his own life earlier this year, had the greatest increase in search of any one person in 2014, according to Google, and was at the top of the list for global trending searches in 2014. The soccer World Cup 2014 and the Ebola virus crisis in Africa were the second and third most searched terms, respectively.

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The Malaysia Airlines disasters also caught the world's attention this year with the MH17 plane crash over Ukraine in July and the missing MH370 flight to Beijing both hitting the global headlines. Over 200 million searches were made for "mh370" showing how the mystery of the missing plane continues to intrigue the public.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which members of the public and celebrities subjected themselves to having an icy bucket of water chucked over their heads, was at number five, with Flappy Bird, the mobile game of the year year, following close behind.

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Conchita Wurst
Emmanuel Dunan | AFP | Getty Images
Conchita Wurst

The remainder of the top 10 global trending searches ranged from terrorist group ISIS to the Russian Sochi Olympics, the film "Frozen" and, perhaps surprisingly for a global trend, the Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst, who won the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

The most search-for celebrities globally were Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, whose nude photos were leaked online; reality star Kim Kardashian and Julie Gayet, the French film actress whose affair with French President Francois Hollande hit the headlines earlier this year.

The fast-moving world of consumer electronics was high on our search criteria in 2014, with the iPhone 6 topping the list of most searched for items followed by the Samsung Galaxy S5, Google's Nexus 6 and Motorola's Moto G.

Among the most searched-for athletes were Colombian footballer James Rodriguez who plays for Real Madrid, German racing driver Michael Schumacher who suffered a serious head injury while on a skiing holiday almost a year ago.

Celebrities who died in 2014 were also high on our searches. While comedian Joan Rivers and former child star Shirley Temple both saw searches for them spike by 14 times more than normal after they died. Searches for quotes from author and activist Maya Angelou also increased 21 times after her death in May, Google said.

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"As a whole the trending searches paint a picture of humanity in 2014 that's paradoxically both unsurprising and interesting," Mario Aguilar from design and technology blog Gizmodo wrote of the results on Tuesday. "We can't defy our nature: Year after miserable year we're driven to hysteria by the same damn things, and every year, it's fun to look back and see what drove us mad during the preceding 12 months."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld