YouTube, MSNBC Benefit From Quake-related Search Spikes, Hitwise Says


Search activity spiked late last week in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the two sites benefitting the most in terms of web traffic were MSNBC and YouTube. That’s according to a series of tweets from Experian Hitwise this afternoon.

As the image above shows, Hitwise says that the phrase “japan earthquake” had more search activity than always-popular one-word brand terms like “google” and “mapquest.” In a separate tweet, Hitwise shared a chart showing that five of the top 20 search terms on March 11 were related to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.


Where’d all this search activity lead? Hitwise says: received the most traffic, 13.66%, from the search term “japan earthquake” on Mar 11th. YouTube ranked 2nd w/9.17%.

And a day later, Hitwise says those two sites were still getting the most traffic from that term, though they switched placed.

On Mar 12th, YouTube received the most traffic, 12.17%, from search term “japan earthquake” & MSNBC was 2nd w/11.12%.

In addition, Hitwise tweeted out a couple other stats about Japan-related search activity:

  • The five fastest-moving search terms last week in the US were all Japan-related.
  • The top 15 — and 29 of the top 30 — fastest moving search terms that sent traffic to YouTube were related to Japan.

Twitter Activity & The Japan Earthquake

In its blog post today about activity levels, Twitter didn’t specifically call out the situation in Japan but, as I noted in our article, tweet activity was way up on March 11th (the day of the earthquake and tsunami), and new Twitter signups were up substantially on March 12th.

But Topsy’s new Social Analytics tool provides a snapshot of tweet activity, as Royal Pingdom pointed out today. Here’s what Topsy shows for activity related to three terms: japan, earthquake and tsunami:


The Topsy stats for those terms also reveals some of the most popular links and tweets related to the Japanese disaster. At the moment, that top content includes appeals to donate to the Red Cross, photos and videos from several news sources, and even Bing’s unfortunate tweet that some took as an effort to gain exposure in exchange for donations.

Postscript: What about Facebook, you ask? Well, there are no exact numbers in this, but All Facebook points out a series of world maps that Facebook has posted, which show the spread of Japan-related status updates.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Society: General | Stats: Hitwise | Stats: Search Behavior | Twitter


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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