Following Yahoo's release on December 4 of its top searches for 2006, last week AOL, Lycos and MSN Live released their top searches for the year 2006. Google still has their 2005 review at Zeitgeist, along with recent monthly totals. Ask.com presents weekly lists, but has yet to release a 2006 year in review.
A closer look at these lists reveals some interesting questions about the differences in the data from engine to engine.
Looking at the slight differences between this data can be an interesting project, and can probably yield some good insight into both the user demographics of each of the engines
Paris Hilton is an interesting example to use in showing how search engines classify types of searches. In Yahoo! and in AOL, Paris is listed as a celebrity, yet she is found in top News searches for MSN Live. Does this mean that people search Live's (formerly search.msn.com) News category when they look for everyone's favorite socialite?
More can undoubtedly be read into the top overall searches reported for each portal. AOL reports: "weather" (does this mean they included all weather-inclusive searches or just the term "weather?"); Yahoo! says Britney Spears is number one (hmm...wonder if that includes people misspelling it?); MSN Live claims that the world wanted to know about Ronaldinho more than anyone or thing else; and Lycos puts Poker at number one. Again, others can fill in the blanks as to what they think the demographics most closely associated with each portal are.
It will be interesting to see what the top Google searches are. It would also be nice to have some more details as to how many misspellings were included in searches and perhaps how many of the searches for each top term were actually contained in a longer keyword phrase.
See also the discussions about this at the Yahoo! Search Blog, and the MSN Blog post that introduced their list. AOL has opened up the floor for discussion at the AOL Search Blog (thanks Susan for the link!). Lycos provides a platform for discussion which can be found at the Lycos 50 Blog. (Thanks Carolyn!)
(Note this story was edited after I discovered that Paris Hilton did make the top celebrity list at AOL. For some reason I missed that originally. Apologies to the AOL team for this oversight. CB)