Yahoo Adds More Beef to Top Searches Report

Yahoo revealed its top searches of 2007 on Monday, but rather than presenting another year dominated by Britney Spears, it focused instead on topic categories, taking the spotlight off overall leaders.

Britney still leads the list of celebrity searches, to be sure, but Yahoo sliced and diced the data a little differently this year to allow other leading searches to shine through.

“Instead of doing a top overall searches list, which is often stacked with celebrity meltdown-related searches, our engineers mined the search data to see if they could identify some more interesting trends that might tell us a bit more about how people are using search and, more importantly, what it says about society overall in 2007,” wrote Graham Mudd, product marketing manager for Yahoo Search, on the company’s search blog.

“They identified seven categories that bubbled up to the surface, many of which were unique to this year,” he added. “Also new for 2007 are two Top 10 lists using different sources of search data, del.icio.us and Yahoo Kids.”

Saddam in News

The resulting categories for 2007, then, are news stories, environmental searches, “troubled stars,” technology, del.icio.us, consumer call-backs, Yahoo Kids, sports news and send-offs.

The top searches for news stories, for instance, were Saddam Hussein, Iran and Iraq, followed by President Bush, oil and gas prices, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, San Diego fires, Afghanistan and Virginia Tech.

In technology, meanwhile, the top searches were YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook, followed by iTunes, iPod, iPhone, Nintendo Wii, Xbox, Sony PlayStation 3 and “Guitar Hero.”

Top del.icio.us tags were design, HDTV, games, music, Web 2.0, video, Ubuntu, travel, photography and Mac.

Getting Green

Environment and product recalls were two categories that just emerged this year.

Recycling, global warming, Freecycle, Earth and pollution were the leaders in the environment search category, followed by Al Gore, the Environmental Protection Agency, Live Earth, hybrid cars and solar energy.

“While the green movement is certainly not new (in fact the first Earth Day was 37 years ago), 2007 marks the urgency of environmental change among the public,” Mudd explained. “And perhaps what’s even more interesting is that a number of the search terms on the Top 10 list reveal that searchers are looking for ways to take action and do something to contribute to the cause, whether big or small.”

To create its lists, Yahoo analyzed search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth versus previous periods, to see which themes and trends emerged. Individual users and their searches remained anonymous during the process, it said.

“It’s clear that search continues to weave its way into our lives,” Mudd concluded. “We rely on it for everything from the most personal interests (our family’s safety) to the most global of causes (the environment). We turn to search to stay connected to our world, whether it’s the latest gadget or game, breaking world news or water cooler gossip. Search is clearly a resource of first resort.”

Cultural Snapshot

Search lists such as Yahoo’s provide a snapshot of the culture, Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

“Essentially, you see people’s curiosity and interests and the top news stories,” Sterling noted. “It’s all about people looking to find out more information about a particular topic.”

Such lists are heavily edited, however, and don’t reveal the terms really being searched for most often on the Internet, noted Karsten Weide, program director for digital media and entertainment with IDC. Specifically, sex and porn-related terms are not included in the lists, he said.

That, in turn, leads back to Britney, who does still dominate 2007’s searches overall, Yahoo spokesperson Stephen Rocco Rodi told TechNewsWorld.

The Missing List

Turns out that Overall Searches list does, in fact, still exist, and it looks much the way you’d expect:

  1. Britney Spears
  2. WWE
  3. Paris Hilton
  4. Naruto
  5. Beyonce
  6. Lindsay Lohan
  7. Rune Scape
  8. Fantasy Football
  9. Fergie
  10. Jessica Alba

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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