Ask: The Most Burning Questions Of 2009

In true Ask fashion, we’ve got the answers (well…not complete answers) to what the most popular questions were on during the year.  According to, visitors are three times more likely to type search queries in the form of a question. Holding steady at 50 million visits per month (October 2009, ComScore), question based searches continue to grow year over year on Ask.

Falling in line with the most popular searches on other engines, questions surrounding the economic crisis and financial stability were among the popular categories, but it was the celebrity rumors that created the most comic relief in the search stimulus package. Searchers were feverishly fighting off symptoms of the Swine Flu, while trying to get answers on a number of health and fitness issues. Popular question categories unique to include the most popular searches on Ask Kids, and likely from the / Nascar partnership.’s Top Overall Questions of 2009

  1. How much should I weigh?
  2. How do I get out of debt fast?
  3. How do I get pregnant?
  4. What is Twitter?
  5. What is Miley Cyrus’ phone number?
  6. What is the meaning of life?
  7. When will the world end?
  8. How long does marijuana stay in your system?
  9. What are the symptoms of Swine Flu?
  10. What time is it?

Again, Twitter questionably makes the cut.  And isn’t 2012 the answer to #7? Does it strike anyone else as odd, that no one in the US was curious to ask if Michael Jackson was really dead? Read on…

Top Personal Finance Questions

  1. What is a good credit score?
  2. How do I file for bankruptcy?
  3. How do I start my own business?
  4. What is a short sale in real estate?
  5. Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank?
  6. How much is minimum wage?
  7. How do savings bonds work?
  8. What can I deduct on my taxes?
  9. What is a trust fund?
  10. What is a hedge fund?

Top Celebrity Rumors of 2009

  1. Is Miley Cyrus pregnant?
  2. Is Adam Lambert straight?
  3. Is Lady Gaga a man?
  4. Is Michelle Obama pregnant?
  5. Is Robert Pattinson dating Kristen Stewart?
  6. Did Chris Brown get Rihanna pregnant?<
  7. Are Jon and Kate getting a divorce?
  8. Is Michael Phelps using marijuana?
  9. Who is the father of Michael Jackson’s children?
  10. Did David Letterman keep a secret bedroom is his studio?

Meanwhile, across the pond…an entirely different set of questions arose:

Ask Jeeves’ UK fastest rising searches of 2009

  1. What is Twitter?
  2. Have I got swine flu?
  3. Is Lady Gaga a man?
  4. Who is Aleksandr Orlov?
  5. Is Michael Jackson dead?
  6. Where is my nearest Primark?
  7. Who is the father of Heather’s baby in EastEnders?
  8. What is the Lisbon Treaty?
  9. When will the recession end?
  10. What is cervical cancer?

Needing a little bit of help to understand what brought on some of these questions? Ask UK provided some insight:

While Lady Gaga’s sexuality is at third on the list of rising questions, at number four is ‘ Who is Aleksandr (corr) Orlov?’ the animated Russian meerkat in TV adverts for an internet comparison website.

His catchphrase “Simples” has become a favourite among TV viewers and led to scores of queries from search engine users, including questions about where he comes from and the voice is behind him.

In fact he is voiced by Simon Greenall, who also starred as Geordie hotel worker Michael in ‘I’m Alan Partridge’.

Note that since this is the UK list, the 10th most asked question about cervical cancer, most likely can be linked to the cause of death for the reality star, Jade Goody, of the UK “Big Brother” edition, who made the “Farewell Searches” Top 10 list in Yahoo’s annual recap.

In support of the theory that at the close of the decade, our search habits are indeed changing at a much faster rate, Nadia Kelly, a spokesperson for Ask Jeeves, added:

“Last year we looked at our top questions on Ask Jeeves and found that the identity of the Stig from Top Gear was on everyone’s minds. This year, we have had a wide variety of unusual searches from Lady Gaga’s gender to TV meerkat to swine flu symptoms. It proves that more people than ever are turning to internet search engines for answers to not only everyday things, but weird and wacky subjects too.The internet has become the virtual text book of choice for millions with its ability to give quick and accurate answers to even the most bizarre questions.”

The full recap for’s most popular questions of 2009, can be found here.

Back to: This Is It: The Most Popular Searches of 2009 >>

Related Topics: Ask | Channel: Search Marketing | Search Headlines | Stats: Search Behavior


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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