A Decade in Search

  • Posted January 3rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: Fun, Search Trends

The top 10 searches of 2001 provided a telling snapshot of the times. Yahoo! users wanted to know about file sharing, car racing, and taxes with queries for Napster, NASCAR, and the IRS taking positions No. 4, No. 9, and No. 10. The most poignant entry on the list, World Trade Center, captured a national tragedy in just three words. Its placement at No. 6, shows just how hungry searchers were for details, information, and insight on the events of 9/11. Not until the BP oil spill took the No. 1 spot in 2010 would another newsworthy event appear on the top 10 list.

But searchers at the start of the millennium also craved entertainment, which didn’t slow down. PlayStation 2 topped the most-searched list in both 2001 and 2002 while the smackdown shenanigans of the WWE (then the WWF) gave it a place on the most-searched list starting in 2001 and almost every year thereafter. And though we could turn down the sound, we couldn’t look away from American Idol – one of the most-searched shows for 5 out of the past 10 years.

When it came to celebrity searches, our leading ladies shined throughout the decade. The women who best captured the public’s – and paparazzi’s – attention included Pamela Anderson (No. 9 in 2006), Paris Hilton (who made the list from 2003-2007), and the Jessicas: Simpson (list-maker from 2004-2006) and Alba (on the list 2007-2008). Famous females dominated the most-searched list in 2010 with Lady Gaga making her debut at No. 5, joining a top-ten sisterhood that included Miley Cyrus (No. 3), Kim Kardashian (No. 4) and Megan Fox (No. 7).

That’s not to say there was no place for men in the top 10. The guys held their own with Eminem placing solidly in 2002, 2003, and 2005, 50 Cent reaching No. 2 in 2002, and teen-heartthrob Justin Bieber emoting his way to No. 8 in 2010. Barak Obama became the first politician to make the list in 2008. Not real? Not a problem. Fictional favorite Harry Potter made the list in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

But the people’s-choice-award for celebrity search belongs to Britney Spears, who ranked somewhere in the top 10 every year since 2001. Britney had a quiet year in 2010 and slipped to the bottom of the list, but the pop princess plans to unveil a new album in 2011, so check back in December 2011 to see if she’s continued her steady reign over search.

While some our most popular questions have stayed the same over the years, the answers – and how we get them – have seen some big changes since 2001. Innovative features and Quick Apps now bring the information you’re seeking within the search page, rather than just giving you a list of links. You can even Sketch-a-Search! Today’s Yahoo! searchers don’t have to rely on PCs; mobile devices now let you search on the go, delivering snack-sized bites of information – like scores, stats, and song lyrics – perfect for the top 3 2010 searches on mobile: NFL, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna.

The Yahoo! Search team celebrates your searches all year long and we want to make sure you find the right information at the right time in 2011. Maybe your favorite search will make our next top 10 list!

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