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Top ten searches of the year: Google vs Yahoo vs Bing

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
7 January 2010

Another year has come and gone, and I was curious to see what the top searches of the past year could reveal about 2009. Each year, Google, Yahoo and Bing examine the millions of queries that people around the world have typed into their search engines and compile a list of the most popular searches of the year.

The top ten, I find, reveal a lot about the human psyche – and internet users in general. But, as most of the results are from America, the results hardly speak for the global consciousness. They are, however, still an interesting way to review 2009.

The Google, Yahoo and Bing results reveal few similarities – although Michael Jackson did make number 1 across the board – but there differences also offer some insights in their users’ mind sets:

Google’s year in review – 2009

Google’s top ten reveals a massive trend towards social networking, with five of the ten sites relating to social media.

  1. Michael Jackson – The King of Pop earned the crown of “King of Google Search”, with the fastest rising search term globally after his death mid-2009.
  2. Facebook – The social networking site continued to grow in popularity in 2009.
  3. Tuenti – the Madrid-based, invitation-only private social networking website which has been hailed as the ‘Spanish Facebook’. Started three years ago, Tuenti.com has become the most trafficked website in Spain.
  4. Twitter – also selected as the most popular word of 2009 by the Global Language Monitor, this search term is strangely absent from Yahoo’s list of the top 10 search terms of 2009.
  5. Sanalika – a Turkish virtual world where you can play multiplayer games and join realtime events. It was launched on November 2008 and has already reached over 3 million users.
  6. New Moon – Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-themed “Twilight” series inspired a book and movie series that exploded in popularity in 2009.
  7. Lady Gaga – the pop-icon and celebrity singer Lady Gaga beat out Microsoft’s Windows on Google’s search list.
  8. Windows 7 – Microsoft released its new operating system, Windows 7, in 2009. (News)
  9. Dantri – Vietnam’s leading and most popular online news source with an average of 70 million hits per week.
  10. Torpdo Gratis – the Spanish site provides users with an interface to send free text messages of up to 116 characters to mobile phone.

Yahoo’s year in review – 2009

The top ten searches on Yahoo provide some insight in the American conscienceness – and it seems to be all about entertainment and celebrities.

  1. Michael Jackson – the king of pop pushed Britney Spears off her Yahoo perch last year, a position she has held for the last four years.
  2. The Twilight Saga – mass hysteria erupted online in 2009 for the series of four books, made into movies. About a high school girl’s romance with a vampire, the series has captured the attention of tweens and teens around the globe.
  3. WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment is pretty popular in the USA, despite the fights being obviously staged…or, maybe because of that?
  4. Megan Fox – one of the biggest US entertainment news stories of 2009. She made headlines by bad mouthing Transformers – the film franchise that made her famous, then Jennifer’s Body fell flat at the box office.
  5. Britney Spears – for the last four years, Britney has been known as much for her antics as for her music. Now that she’s calmed down a bit she has been attracting fewer searches.
  6. Naruto – a manga series which attracts viewers with its drama, action and plenty of products to search for online. Naruto is a boy on a quest to become a great ninja, while dealing with typical adolescent problems like girls and authority.
  7. American Idol – the all-singing, all-dancing American hit TV show survived right through another year.
  8. Kim Kardashian – in 2009, the celebutante Kim Kardashian easily hoisted the famous-for-being-famous crown from Paris Hilton’s head after she became famous with the TV show “Keeping up with the Kardashians”.
  9. NASCAR – always a popular search on Yahoo, this comes as no surprise, especially after a rather exciting year on the track. Fantasy NASCAR games also became very popular in the States in 2009.
  10. RuneScape – the web-based free game is a popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game has been popular in Yahoo search results ever since it launched back in 2001, with millions of registered users.

Bing’s year in review – 2009

Bing seems to reveal a more serious type of user, as many of its top searches relate to the economy and current news, as opposed to the more entertainment orientated Yahoo results.

  1. Michael Jackson – in addition to topping Bing’s list of most-popular searches, online activity after Jackson’s death broke records for Web site traffic and digital downloads.
  2. Twitter – the micro-blogging site made headlines this year for attracting the attention of celebrities and supporting the Iranian protests against the election results there.
  3. Swine Flu – the virus attracted millions of searches as concerned citizens looked for news on the H1N1 pandemic.
  4. Stock Market – the world seems to be back on the road to economic recovery, but the stock market and the recession were huge sources of anxiety in 2009.
  5. Farrah Fawcett – after a battle with cancer, Fawcett died in June at age 62, attracting huge numbers of searches about her life and death.
  6. Patrick Swayze – the sexy star of  “Dirty Dancing” died of pancreatic cancer in September, leading to a mini revival of the 80’s classic.
  7. Cash for Clunkers – American and European governments initiated the popular car scrapping incentive plan, which drew many people looking for a bargain on a new car – and helping the economy too.
  8. Jon and Kate Gosselin – the stars of reality television show produced in the United States which follows the family through their daily lives, focusing on the challenges of raising multiple children. The show attracted a record 9.8 million viewers with the fifth season premiere.
  9. Billy Mays – the US television pitchman attracted a barrage of searches after he died suddenly in June of heart disease.
  10. Jaycee Dugard -  11-year-old Jaycee was kidnapped near her family home in California in 1991, after 18 years in captivity, she made national news when she was reunited with her family in 2009.
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