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What People Were Searching for in 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Ever wonder what people search for when they go online?  Well it's that time of the year when the major search engines release information on what people are searching for on their engines.  I managed to catch a little bit of ABC news the other night and there was an interview with Google's Marissa Mayer who mentioned that a quarter of the searches completed on Google daily are for terms that people have never searched for before.  I thought that was very interesting. 

Here is a look at what people were search for on the major search engines in 2009.  Let's begin with looking at ASK.com.  If you remember, ASK was formerly known as ASK Jeeves (and still is in the UK) and was based on the premise that users would type a question into the engine to try and find the answers to their questions.

This year ASK compiled a list of the top questions that people were asking on their search engine.  The results are... well interesting to say the least. According to ASK, more than 50 million people visit Ask each month, where they are three times more likely to enter their queries in the form of a question than on other search engines.  Here is a look at some of those questions.

ASK.com's Top Questions of 2009
  1. How much should I weigh?
  2. How do I get out of debt fast?
  3. How do I get pregnant? - are you serious? 
  4. What is Twitter?
  5. What is Miley Cyrus' phone number?
  6. What is the meaning of life? - again are you serious?
  7. When will the world end? -
  8. How long does marijuana stay in your system?
  9. What are the symptoms of Swine Flu?
  10. What time is it? - ok this is the kicker...

Top Technology Questions
  1. How do I make a website?
  2. What does URL stand for?
  3. How do I find my IP address?
  4. What is an RSS feed?
  5. How many megabytes are in a gigabyte?
  6. How do I delete my cookies?
  7. What is JavaScript?
  8. What does FTP stand for?
  9. What is a 3G network?
  10. What is a PDF file?

Top Parenting Questions
  • How can I help my child deal with a bully?
  • How much should my child weigh?
  • By what age should a child express happiness?
  • How do I keep my child safe on the Internet?
  • How should my child deal with peer pressure?
  • What immunizations will my child need for school?
  • Does my child have ADHD?
  • How do I deal with food allergies at school?
  • When can my child ride in the front seat?
  • When should I give my child a cell phone?

Top Celebrity Rumors of 2009
  1. Is Miley Cyrus pregnant?
  2. Is Adam Lambert straight?
  3. Is Lady Gaga a man?
  4. Is Michelle Obama pregnant?
  5. Is Robert Pattinson dating Kristen Stewart?
  6. Did Chris Brown get Rihanna pregnant?
  7. Are Jon and Kate getting a divorce?
  8. Is Michael Phelps using marijuana?
  9. Who is the father of Michael Jackson's children?
  10. Did David Letterman keep a secret bedroom is his studio?
Needless to say, some interesting searches being done in ASK.com.  Check out the official news release from ASK for more: http://ask.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=409

ASK's top questions can also be found here: http://sp.ask.com/2009/topquestions.html

Top Searches in Bing for 2009

Top search trends on Bing for 2009 included:

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Twitter
  3. Swine Flu
  4. Stock Market
  5. Farrah Fawcett
  6. Patrick Swayze
  7. Cash for Clunkers - this one is interesting
  8. Jon and Kate Gosselin
  9. Billy Mays
  10. Jaycee Dugard

Top Searches in Google in 2009

Ah Google, the mothership of all search engines.  As mentioned in 2009, approximately 25% of daily searches were for terms that people had not seacrhed for before.  Well the following list outlines some of the terms that the vast majority of Google users were searching for in 2009.  Yes you can expect to see Michael Jackson and Twitter, but there are some surprising ommissions from the list.
  1. Twitter
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. Facebook
  4. Hulu
  5. Hi5
  6. Glee
  7. Paranormal Activity
  8. Natasha Richardson
  9. Farrah Fawcett
  10. Lady Gaga
It appears that when it comes to Google, people are looking more for how to connect with other people when compared to the other search engines.  Notable omissions  include Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and Swine Flu.  According to Google Zeitgeist, the fastest falling terms (global) for 2009 were:

  1. beijing 2008
  2. euro 2008
  3. heath ledger
  4. barack obama
  5. amy winehouse
  6. kraloyun
  7. dailymotion
  8. bebo
  9. wii
  10. emule

For all of you hockey fans out there, here are the top hockey searches in Google for 2009

  1. red wings
  2. penguins
  3. blackhawks
  4. bruins
  5. capitals
  6. hurricanes
  7. flyers
  8. rangers
  9. ducks
  10. sabers

 Hmm, not one Canadian team on the list. 

Ever wonder what people are searching for in Chicago vs. say New York?

Chicago, IL

  1. impact cps
  2. cta bus tracker
  3. second city cop
  4. rta trip planner
  5. southtown star
  6. metromix chicago
  7. harold washington college
  8. paws chicago
  9. chicago public library
  10. uic.edu

New York, NY

  1. cuny portal
  2. duane reade locations
  3. mta trip planner
  4. seamless web
  5. conedison.com
  6. hopstop
  7. hale and heardy
  8. shake shack
  9. nyu home
  10. queens library
How about in the Silicon valley area or San Francisco?

San Francisco, CA

  1. fox theater oakland
  2. bay bridge closure
  3. wicked san francisco
  4. ilearn
  5. sf giants schedule
  6. sfusd
  7. 511.org
  8. outside lands
  9. bart schedule
  10. ccsf

Google's Top News Search for 2009: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2009/news.html
Google's Top Sports Searches for 2009: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2009/sports.html
Google's Top Searches by Major US City for 2009: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2009/cities.html

Google Zeitgeist 2009: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2009/

Top Yahoo Searches for 2009

According to Yahoo,

In 2009, the Web was an integral part of the news cycle as people rushed online to get updates about topics as diverse as the economy, foreclosures, Michael Jackson, unemployment, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," and health care. And Yahoo! was the No. 1 ranked destination for people to get information that mattered to them most, whether they got the information from their computers or their mobile phones. 

Here are the top search queries in Yahoo for 2009.
  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Twilight
  3. WWE
  4. Megan Fox
  5. Britney Spears
  6. Naruto
  7. American Idol
  8. Kim Kardashian
  10. Runescape

Ah, Britney at least made one list.  Yahoo released information on some of the other top search queries on their engine from 2009.

Top 10 Science-Related Searches for 2009
  1. Swine Flu/H1N1
  2. Solar Eclipse
  3. Perseid Meteor Shower
  4. Conficker Worm
  5. NASA Space Shuttle
  6. Tsunami
  7. Stem Cell
  8. Bermuda Triangle
  9. Climate Change
  10. Hubble Space Telescope
Top 10 Searched Sports Teams/Athletes for 2009
  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Maria Sharapova
  4. Danica Patrick
  5. New York Yankees
  6. Los Angeles Lakers
  7. Gina Carano
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers
  9. Anna Kournikova
  10. Serena Williams 
Top 10 Searched Music Artists for 2009
  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Britney Spears
  3. Beyonce
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. Rihanna
  6. Lady Gaga
  7. Taylor Swift
  8. Jessica Simpson
  9. Mariah Carey
  10. Vanessa Hudgens 
Yahoo! has created a Year in Review Rewind video. Check it out here: http://yearinreview.yahoo.com
Official Press Release from Yahoo re: top searches for 2009. 

There you have it, a fairly detailed list of what you were searching for in 2009 across the major search engines.  Was it what you expected?  I mean arguably the largest news stories of the year were:
  • the death of Michael Jackson
  • the coming of Swine Flu / H1N1
  • Barack Obama as the new President of the United States
  • Jon and Kate plus 8 debacle
  • the struggling economy in the US
  • bailouts
What will be the most popular searched for term in 2010?  Will it be Olympics related, a political scandal, the divorce of a famous Hollywood couple, he death of a beloved persona?  Only time (and the major search engines) will tell us.

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