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Friday, 30th April 2010

What Were the Most Popular Search Terms at Google, Bing, and Yahoo During March?

So many choices, so little time and how long does it take for a change to happen? Maybe it will never happen.

According to Hitwise and via Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land, the most popular search term at all three engines for March, 2010 was....Facebook. Yes, it's true. Some web searchers are going to one or more of the search engines to find a very common and well-known URL. Yes, it would make some sense that as more people become Facebook users (they have over 300 million+ these days) they might head to a search engine to find the URL. Of course, some of those new users likely read an article, watched a television program or heard a radio show where the URL was mentioned but they still go searching for it. Some of the searches likely came from people who know the URL but don't have Facebook.com as a bookmark or as their homepage and just want to type it into a search engine.

Of the search terms they [Hitwise] tracked on Google, 1.17% of those searches were for Facebook. Bing had more, with 2.6% and Yahoo saw 1.70%.

You might also be interested in knowing that searches for "YouTube" were #2 on Google, while searches for Yahoo and Yahoo.com were #7 and #9 at G.

On Yahoo, Google was #6, ebay #8, and Yahoo Mail #9.
In other words, searchers go to Yahoo and search to get to Yahoo Mail vs. clicking the Yahoo Mail link that's on many Yahoo pages.

Bing? Google was #2, YouTube #6, and Yahoo.com #8.

The complete list is embedded in the SEL post or available directly from Hitwise.

Overall, Facebook related terms accounted for eight searches across the three top 10 lists.

Yahoo! related terms accounted for six spots while MySpace terms accounted for four searches across the search engines. Other search terms that were among the top 10 searches for all three search engines include youtube, facebook login, craigslist and yahoo mail.

We wouldn't be at ALL surprised that these and similar terms top the most popular list just about every month.

What makes this even more interesting for us is that several years ago, 2005 to be exact, Dogpile,published their year-end

Gary wrote on Search Engine Land:

[The] Top 10 overall search terms on the Dogpile metasearch engine were for other search engines and online services. Google is at number 3, eBay at 4, Yahoo at 5, and MapQuest at 6.

In this case, searchers were using a metasearch engine that included results from Google and Yahoo to search for Google and Yahoo.

However, that was five years ago. That's a very long time in info tech and info retrieval. People told Gary then that over time searchers would become more sophisticated with a better understanding of how it all worked. For example, younger people (the Google generation) would be older and have more experience as searchers and dealing with online information .

If the March, 2010 Hitwise numbers are any indication, not much has changed in the last five years.

It does show that there is still a huge role for info pros to explain, teach, train, demo, (insert your term here) how to be more effective doing something that they likely do 365 days a year. Plus, we think becoming a better searcher is a marketable skill and can help save you, your employer, etc. time (so precious) and simultaneously become more info literate on related issues like quality, currency, and accuracy of what's found.

So, like many other areas of the info profession, we have so much to offer and we need to get people to listen. Once again, it's a marketing issue.


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