AOL Hottest Searches of 2011: Charlie Sheen, Casey Anthony & Harry Potter

AOL has released their data on the most popular searches of 2011 on the Hot Searches website, with insight into search terms and topics from the UK, Canada, and the United States. The Casey Anthony trial booted “bed bugs” from the last year’s top spot as most searched term, followed by the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the Royal Wedding.

From Charlie Sheen to memes to queries about financial troubles, the lists offer a look at which people and events captured the most attention over the course of the last year.

Hottest News Searches

Top News Searches on AOL in 2011

The Royal Wedding, death of Osama bin Laden, and Japan earthquake garnered the most searches across all three groups. Casey Anthony was a popular topic in the US and Canada, while the phone hacking scandal was more a British concern.

Hottest Memes of 2011

Top Memes on AOL in 2011

Ted Williams (the homeless voice actor) was the top U.S. meme. In reviewing the Top UK & Canadian Memes, some of the topics seem slightly off-base and not very meme-y at all; for example, I cannot recall a “BC Kidnapping” meme, nor one about the tragic Oslo mass killings. However, if you’re aware of thememe-worthiness of the topics on these lists, please let us know in the comments.

Hottest Celebrity Searches

Top Celebrity Searches on AOL in 2011

Following her untimely death, Amy Winehouse topped the Canadian and UK lists, placing eighth as most searched celebrity in the US. Other celebs often searched in all three countries were Charlie Sheen and Justin Bieber. Surprisingly, Kate Middleton and her sister both made the Top 10 in the US, but neither registered in the UK.

Hottest Questions in the U.S.

According to AOL, financial woes were top of mind for Americans querying “How...” questions this year, though the rest of the list seems pretty random. Question #8 is particularly ironic:

  1. How can I pay off my credit card? 
  2. How tall is Katy Perry? 
  3. How can I stop snoring? 
  4. How did Valentine's Day start? 
  5. How do you lock your scroll bar? 
  6. How much is my jewelry worth? 
  7. How many ounces in a gallon? 
  8. How do I change my AOL password? 
  9. How much should I weigh? 
  10. How did Punxsutawney Phil get his name?

“Is...” questions also produced some strange queries, especially at volumes great enough to make them among the most searched questions of the year. So, inquiring minds want to know:

  1. Is Whitney Houston pregnant? 
  2. Is the iPhone 3GS free? 
  3. Is Dolly Parton her real name? 
  4. Is Cancun safe for tourists? 
  5. Is Roseanne Barr a nut farmer? 
  6. Is heartburn a sign of pregnancy? 
  7. Is shingles contagious? 
  8. Is Facebook going to charge? 
  9. Is there life after death? 
  10. Is rosemary good for stretch marks?

Other top U.S. searches included Harry Potter (Movies); Kentucky Derby (Sports) and Apple iPhone (Tech Gadgets. Visit the AOL Hot Searches website to see the full lists of top searched terms in these and other categories (e.g., travel destinations, TV shows, car brands). Each listing links to a search on that particular topic.

What do you think of the top search topics this year, were any surprising to you? Are there any events or people you were sure would make the list but didn’t? Let us know in the comments!