‘What is Bitcoin’ among top US Google searches in 2013

Don't be fooled – Bitcoins don't actually look like this, or like anything. They are entirely digital.

This has been a big year for Bitcoin. In 2013, the digital currency went from an obscure, nerdy dream to an increasingly mainstream reality that is making early adopters shockingly wealthy. As of January, the price of a single Bitcoin (BTC) cost just $13 – and even that was a huge jump from the pennies it cost in years past. Since then, Bitcoin’s price has exploded to a high of more than $1,200 to around $740, at the time of this writing.

The jumps and plunges in Bitcoin’s price has led to a ton of chatter from those of us in the tech press – which, in turn, seems to have resulted in a bunch of Americans wondering what the heck Bitcoin actually is.

According to the newly released Google Zeitgeist 2013 report, “What is Bitcoin” was the tenth most popular search in the US under the “What is …” category. This puts Bitcoin behind “what is twerking” (No. 1), “what is gluten” (No. 5), and “what is Snapchat” (No. 9). Still, for a massively complex and niche thing like cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is holding its own. Here’s the full top 10 “what is …” list:

Bitcoin received its first major boost in Google Search in April. That’s when the price of a Bitcoin spiked to nearly $270 – it’s highest value up to that point – before crashing back down to between $100 and $200. The uptick in searches began once again in late September, when the Bitcoin exchange rate began its ascent to above $1,000 per BTC, and has remained fairly high since late November.

As you can see from the charts below, the number of “what is Bitcoin” searches follows almost exactly the rise and fall of Bitcoin’s exchange rate.


None of this is particularly surprising, but it does show that Bitcoin really has begun to penetrate the mainstream consciousness is ways never before seen for a digital currency.

If you’re one of the people still wondering what Bitcoin is, check out our quick guide to Bitcoin here.

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