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Friday, December 15, 2006

What You Can Learn From the Top Searches of Yahoo, Live, AOL, and Lycos

Gossip is in this year as in every other year. The top 10 search terms of four major search engines (Yahoo, Live, AOL, and Lycos) are dominated by celebrities or celebrity-seeking TV shows with one exception. So, what can you learn from looking at these searches?

First off, look at Yahoo and Microsoft's Live top 10 searches below, and you'll find them dominated by celebrities (singers, soccer players, and actresses). Moreover, nearly all of them are women (women have crossover appeal between the sexes). These are all specific search terms, indicating that users of Yahoo and Live are sophisticated users of the Internet. They don't need help figuring out where to look up the weather or buy an early Christmas present. You can also tell that a large amount of Live's traffic is international based on the appearance at number one of Ronaldinho, a Brazilian football (soccer) player, and at ninth place of Rebelde, a Mexican telenovela.

Yahoo Top 10 Overall Searches
1 Britney Spears
3 Shakira
4 Jessica Simpson
5 Paris Hilton
6 American Idol
7 Beyonce Knowles
8 Chris Brown
9 Pamela Anderson
10 Lindsay Lohan

Live Top Overall Searches
1 Ronaldinho
2 Shakira
3 Paris Hilton
4 Britney Spears
5 Harry Potter
6 Eminem
7 Pamela Anderson
8 Hilary Duff
9 Rebelde
10 Angelina Jolie

AOL's searches are very general, compared to Live, Yahoo, and even Lycos. Very broad categories are being looked up, which tell you that AOL users aren't very good at formulating search queries and are probably novice Internet users. They still need help finding some place to look up a word in the dictionary or a place on a map. The hit TV show American Idol makes an appearance here as well as in Yahoo's top searches, potentially indicating the crossover appeal of the show between novice and veteran users. Notice that it also happens to be the only non-general search.

AOL Top Overall Searches
1 Weather
2 Dictionary
3 Dogs
4 American Idol
5 Maps
6 Cars
7 Games
8 Tattoo
9 Horoscopes
10 Lyrics

Looking at Lycos' top searches, we can see that it straddles the line between AOL generality and Yahoo specificity. Searches for poker and golf are present, but we also have Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Also, for some reason, golf suddenly vaulted up about 90 places to rank at 8. I would guess that Lycos key demographic also skews younger based on the appearance of MySpace, poker, and RuneScape (an MMOG), all popular with the teen to 30 set, as the top 3 searches.

Lycos Top 10 Search Terms (number in parentheses indicates position in 2005)
1 Poker (3)
2 MySpace (-)
3 RuneScape (-)
4 Pamela Anderson (2)
5 Paris Hilton (1)
6 Pokemon (8)
7 WWE (7)
8 Golf (98)
9 Spyware (-)
10 Britney Spears (3)

Update (12/19): Now with Google comparison.


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