Google has just released its most popular searched-for terms of 2014, and alongside celebrity deaths and weddings, and sporting events, the Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the most searched terms of the year by users of Google. 'ALS', and or 'Ice Bucket Challenge' also made the list of the most searched for 'What is...?' questions, 'Donation' keyword searches, and 'Symptoms' searches in the U.S, and was the 5th most searched keyword across all international Google search engines.

Why should this be important to readers of ReelSEO? Because a video-led Internet trend became so big that it had a direct impact on the search habits of Google users across the world. And that's huge news.

Trending topics, by their nature, tend to come from nowhere (who could have predicted that the death of Robin Williams would have topped the list?), but the Ice Bucket Challenge was a uniquely video-orientated phenomenon that swept across the world this summer in just a matter of days, and dominated the social feeds of hundreds of millions of Internet users. Everyone from Justin Bieber to Oprah Winfrey to Bill Gates and Homer Simpson doused themselves in ice-cold liquid in front of a video camera, helping to raise around $100 Million for the ALS and MND charities.

The Ice Bucket Challenge may have been the first truly global video meme, and one that inspired millions to participate, and nominate, as well as watch and donate. Although the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) started in 2013, and was slowly gaining momentum during 2014, it was this video, released in late July by sufferer Anthony Carbajal, that really created a buzz around the event, drawing attention to the disease, and encouraging hundreds of thousands of people not only to accept the challenge themselves, but to nominate others.

ALS, The Ice Bucket Challenge, and the Power of Video

ALS, or Motor Neurone Disease, causes progressive muscle paralysis in sufferers. To raise awareness for the condition, the Ice Bucket Challenge dared participants to tip ice-cold water over their heads while filming it. So far, so standard. But the beauty of the IBC was that the person got to nominate three of their friends, family members, or colleagues to participate too.

The #IceBucketChallenge is the biggest video meme ever with 1.3 Billion Views (Tweet this)

Not only were these requests filmed, and uploaded to YouTube, and to other social media sites, but the nominees were asked to complete their challenge within 24 hours. This created a sense of excitement and urgency as people rushed to film their dares and nominate three others to do the same. It was a pyramid-scheme of goodness, aided by the accessibility of smartphone cameras and access to user-friendly video platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Video marketing campaigns by non-profit organizations (not including ALS) generated 670 Million views in 2014, but this particular trend was user-generated and led by the public themselves.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Video Meme 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge on YouTube: 456K videos, 1.3B views

To date, there have been around 456,000 videos uploaded to YouTube around the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' theme, generating 1.3 Billion views. Each video attracts, on average, 3,100 views. Videos uploaded to the 'Entertainment' vertical averaged 6,151 views per video. The most watched IBC video belongs to Fox, who uploaded the Simpsons ALS Challenge on the 26th August 2014. Homer's participation generated 24 Million views, 135K Facebook shares, and 22K Tweets.

Top Google Searches: USA 2014

The ALS Challenge generated millions of search queries on Google. Here's what else made the list in 2014:

  1. Robin Williams
  2. World Cup
  3. Ebola
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. Flappy Bird
  6. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  7. ISIS
  8. Ferguson
  9. Frozen
  10. Ukraine

Thanks to YouTube, and to Tubular, for the data.