AOL 2008 Year in Review: The Hottest Search Trends

The presidential election reigned supreme in the land of America (Online), as politically charged queries ranged across more than 40 categories in AOL’s annual lists of top Web, mobile and video searches. Celebrity news, captivating headlines and pop culture continued to captivate the online audience; emerging mobile devices bumped activity for social apps like MySpace and Facebook, as well as sharing videos downloaded via apps for the iPhone.

The political landscape, and most notably, president-elect Barack Obama top the newsmakers lists, and politicians infiltrated 7 of the Top 10 slots in this category.

Top names in the news in 2008

  1. Barack Obama
  2. Sarah Palin
  3. Pregnant Man
  4. Hillary Clinton
  5. John McCain
  6. Ashley Dupre
  7. John Edwards
  8. Ron Paul
  9. Casey and Caylee Anthony
  10. Mike Huckabee

Top US news stories on AOL

  1. Presidential election
  2. Olympics
  3. Bailout
  4. Hurricane Ike
  5. Unemployment
  6. Stock market
  7. Bigfoot
  8. Simulus checks
  9. High gas prices
  10. Eliot Spitzer scandal

On Truveo, AOL’s video search engine, the political-pop culture mashup continued, where the most searched for videos included rapper will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” clip, Paris Hilton’s satirical repsonse to John McCain.

For mobile users, Obama’s presidential victory speech was in high demand on the Truveo iPhone app, as well as music videos including Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”, “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, and “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry, and the volume of overall mobile searches continued to grow.

Top mobile search terms

  1. MySpace
  2. AIM
  3. iPhone
  4. MocoSpace
  5. Facebook

Travelin’ through the tough economic times

While economic troubles have all eyes on the travel industry, watching intently for downward trends, travelers are still searching strong –perhaps looking for an escape from reality –putting these U.S. and foreign travel destinations on top of AOL’s most-searched lists.

No surprise that Las Vegas and Dubai, both land of the riches land at the top of this list. For the budget conscious traveler, Myrtle Beach, Niagara Falls and Cabo San Lucas provide affordable escapes. But budget busting cities like New York, London and Paris continue to be on traveler wishlists despite the the extravagance.

Top USA Travel Destinations on AOL

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Myrtle Beach
  3. Chicago
  4. Boston
  5. New York
  6. Washington, DC
  7. Niagara Falls
  8. Key West
  9. San Francisco
  10. Atlanta

Top International Travel Searches on AOL

  1. Dubai
  2. Australia
  3. London
  4. Aruba
  5. Bermuda
  6. Cancun
  7. Jamaica
  8. Cabo San Lucas
  9. Paris
  10. Punta Cana

Simple search terms are tops

At AOL, searchers kept the queries simple, looking for everyday information and online entertainment, with these classic searches:

  1. Dictionary
  2. Weather
  3. Games
  4. Maps
  5. Lyrics
  6. University
  7. Movies
  8. Calendar
  9. Zip Codes
  10. Horoscopes

Top movie searches on AOL

The correlation should come as no surprise with “movies” being the 7th most searched topic on AOL, and seeing some of the blockbusters in this list:

  1. Juno
  2. High School Musical
  3. The Dark Knight
  4. Iron Man
  5. Indiana Jones
  6. Sex and the City
  7. Jumper
  8. No Country for Old Men
  9. Hancock
  10. Kung Fu Panda

Top athletes all over the map

Olympic superstar Michael Phelps didn’t make the cut at AOL for overall athletes, yet the most searched for live TV moments included his 4×100 gold medal relay race, as well as Usain Bolt’s insane world-record breaking streak to victory in the Beijing Olympics. Phelps did take home the gold among the Top 10 Olympian searches, while volleyball and dance floor diva capped the list.

Instead, GoDaddy’s favorite little girl, Danica Patrick cruised to victory.  Star NFL quarterbacks stayed on top of their game, though Brady and Romo are more likely stalked for their off the field escapades; the Brett Favre retirement and trade debacle kept him in the running, while Manning is the one who earned his place on the list.

  1. Danica Patrick
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Kimbo Slice
  5. Tony Romo
  6. John Cena
  7. Eli Manning
  8. Brett Favre
  9. Tony Stewart
  10. Serena Willams

Browse the complete listing of all the hottest searches on AOL in 2008 and Truveo’s top videos of 2008 in over 40 categories.

Related Topics: AOL | Channel: Strategy | Stats: Search Behavior

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About The Author: is Director of Audience Development for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. She is responsible for increasing readership through owned, earned and paid media channels. In addition, she assists in programming sessions at Third Door Media's Search Marketing Expo conference series and manages speaking engagements for editorial staff. Follow her on Twitter @elisabethos.

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