Yahoo! Search Trends: Oprah’s Effect on Web Searches

Searches for Oprah are up 56% this week on Yahoo! as The Oprah Winfrey Show comes to a close. The TV talk show host, media producer and billionaire is not only a catalyst for change, but also a catalyst for online buzz.

 The Oprah Effect. With 25 years of addressing hard-hitting issues under her belt, Oprah has earned an amazing amount of credibility with the public. Anytime Oprah gives her stamp of approval, people take note. Searches on Yahoo! for “Oprah” peaked in 2010 when her ‘Favorite Things’ episode aired in late November.

 It’s striking how even basic foods have gotten boosts from Oprah and her go-to health and fitness experts, Bob Greene and Dr. Oz.  Searches for “steel cut oatmeal” spiked 5,400% on Yahoo! the day Oprah and Dr. Oz sang its praises. 

 For millions of Oprah viewers, Ms. Winfrey’s recommendations are trustworthy, especially when it comes to clothes.  When Oprah staged a bra and jeans intervention to educate women around the world about bra fitting and bra sizes, searches on Yahoo! that day for recommended brands, “freya bras” spiked 49,000%, as well as searches for “felina bras” which spiked 2,036%. Oprah also put her stamp of approval on Citizens of Humanity Jeans, Joe’s Jeans, Theory Jeans, and AG Jeans, and of course, searches for them spiked off the charts as a result.

Health.  When Dr. Oz visited Oprah and showed an audience member how to use a neti pot, search went up 12,325% for “neti pot” and up 42,480% for “buy neti pot” on Yahoo! that day as some store shelves were cleared out of the product.

Family. It’s no surprise that people are fascinated about Oprah’s personal life. When commercials for the episode mentioned Oprah and Stedman’s “daughter,” searches spiked through the roof as users asked about “Oprah’s daughter” and “does Oprah have a daughter.” It ended up the daughter in question was one of Oprah’s dogs, whose misbehavior had inspired her to consult the Dog Whisperer. And who could forget the big reveal this season, when Oprah reunited with her long-lost half-sister? Searches for “Oprah’s half sister” on Yahoo! spiked over 7 million percent that day.

People may have been following Oprah during her 25 years on the air, but some are turning to the Internet to find answers for their questions. A few questions being searched this month on Yahoo!:

1.       Searches for “Oprah middle name” are spiking off the charts this month on Yahoo!. (Answer: Oprah’s middle name is “Gail.”)

2.       “What college did Oprah attend?” (Answer: Tennessee State University, where she studied communication.)

3.       “Why is the Oprah show ending?” (Answer: In Oprah’s words, “I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say good-bye.”)

4.       “How tall is Oprah Winfrey?” (Answer: Oprah stands at 5 feet, 6 inches or 168 centimeters)

5.       “How much is Oprah worth?” (Answer: $2.7 billion as of March 2011, according to Forbes)

Who’s searching for Oprah?

  • According to Yahoo!, Illinois is the top state searching for Oprah this month, followed by Missouri, Michigan, California and Georgia.
  • 73% of searches on Yahoo! for Oprah come from females.
  • 35-44 year olds search the most on Yahoo! for Oprah.
  • In Chicago, searches are off the charts for “Oprah finale” and “Oprah last show” this week.
  • Searches for “when is Oprah’s last show” are off the charts this week too; nearly 1/3 of those searches come from men.

Interview Available:

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What is Yahoo! Search Data?

People power: We sift through billions of Yahoo! searches to uncover trends, burning questions, popular personalities and hot ideas. Yahoo! has been extremely successful in sifting through searches for trend-spotting, historical insight, forecasting projections, and big-picture analysis.

**Off the charts refers to searches that received little to no searches the week/month before and are now gaining interest**

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