Yahoo Reveals Our Curiosities

December 28, 2012

It is time once again for Yahoo’s annual Year in Review report, in which the company shares the most popular searches performed with its engine during the preceding year. Search Engine Land gives us the lowdown in “2012 Yahoo Year in Review: Over 500 Top Searches in 50+ Categories.”

Writer Elisabeth Osmeloski emphasizes the role of Vera Chan, Yahoo’s senior editor and Web trend analyst, who has been compiling these lists since 2005:

“[Ms. Chan] clearly enjoys looking for the ‘why’ behind some of these popular search trends. Every year, Ms. Chan hosts a press conference call to share insights and give some context around these searcher behaviors, as she explains that we now live in a ‘Freakonomics’ world — and people like Nate Silver are bringing new meaning to number crunching — she’s clearly one of the people making sense of ‘big data’ at Yahoo.”

So, how do they do it? The company describes its methodology:

“To develop the Yahoo! Year in Review, Yahoo’s  editors analyze Yahoo! Search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and the growth from previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. Individuals and their Search queries always remain anonymous. Top searched refers to searches with the highest volume. Spiking refers to searches with the greatest change from one year to the next.”

It looks like users spent 2012 focused on some pretty highbrow topics. Ha, just kidding! While we did look up important stuff like elections and the Colorado wildfires, there are also top-rankers like “honey boo boo,” “gangnam style,” and “Jackson family fight.” It really is an interesting compilation, and you could spend a lot of time perusing the results.

Yahoo breaks popular searches into categories, and this year there are more classifications than ever. There is, of course, Top Searches Overall (not surprisingly, “election” won first place). Some other interesting categories include Top Obsessions (“iphone5”), Top Searched Memes (“kony 2012”), and Top Job Searches (“work from home jobs”). Check out the article for more curious groupings. Or groupings of the curious, if you will.

Cynthia Murrell, December 28, 2012

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