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Facebook’s Hot, At Least As A Top Search Term
Facebook might not be more popular than sex, but it’s getting there — at least as a rival to sex as something people search on. Below, a look at Facebook’s new entry into a top search terms list and related stats, along the way — including which country searches for Facebook the most (hint: how about a donut, eh?).
Let’s start off with the Lycos 50. This is the long-standing list of terms that are popular on Lycos. OK, OK — I know, it’s Lycos, long past its former glory as a major search engine. Still — people search there, and unlike the major search engines, it provides a list that’s not a "movers and shakers" but instead focuses on most popular terms overall.
This week, Facebook made its first-ever appearance in the top 50 search term list at Lycos, debuting at 25:
So where’s the rivalry with sex? OK, actually, sexual terms are omitted from the Lycos 50. I was just getting your attention! Then again, Clay Aiken (position 11) and Paris Hilton (position 12) are considered sexy (by some), right? So Facebook could gain on them.
Still, will Facebook be able to poke Poker, top ranked currently and which has been on the Top 50 list for over a year? How about overtaking Google-wunderkind YouTube, at spot 6 for the past 46 weeks? And could it ever stay in the top rankings as long as Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, and …. Dragonball, all of which have been there since 1999?
I doubt it.
See, Lycos also drops from its list "queries on popular Web tools [which] are ignored, in order to prevent the medium itself from skewing the list." That’s why searches for Google and Hotmail, perennial top search requests, aren’t sitting up on the current list. That’s also why ultimately, the days of YouTube and Facebook ranking on it are doomed. These are popular web tools, Lycos! They’re doomed to be excluded.
After getting the Lycos news release, I decided to turn my attention over to Google Trends, that wonderful tool that lets you see all the searches happening on Google and compare the popularity of terms. How is Facebook doing against sex? Let’s see:
That’s searches for all regions, all years for Facebook measured against sex and porn. OK, sex is still more popular based on query volume, but Facebook is gaining! But Hitwise is right — Facebook is more popular than porn! Here’s a closer look:
Now, the charts above are for volume of searches. Hitwise made the “Facebook beats porn” statement based instead on finding that 18-24 year-olds first head to social networks, then to search engines, then email, and finally porn sites.
Data geek Bill Tancer, who I love in the non-porn sense, said:
It’s a leap to say there’s a real correlation there, but if there is one, then I’d bet it has everything to do with Gen Y’s changing habits: they’re too busy chatting with friends to look at online skin. Imagine.
C’mon Bill, it’s so clear. They hit the social networks to meet someone first. Then they Google the people they find to learn more about them since, it turns out, Facebook doesn’t have everything about everyone. Then, despite repeated Facebook pokings, the person they want doesn’t respond. So now they try old-fashioned email to make a connection. And when that fails, well, it’s off to porn….
OK, get your minds off of sex. How’s Facebook doing against the competition?
Sweet! Look at that, Facebook’s renewed climb in late 2007 right when MySpace takes a tumble. Those darn fickle kids! Google’s much maligned Orkut is there as a solid third (bless those Brazilians), Bebo a respectable fourth, but LinkedIn? Sigh.
Oh, but this is all regions. Bebo’s big in the UK! Huge:
Oh, maybe not. Looks like the Brits are big on Facebook, in terms of searches — even more than Bebo or MySpace.
Meanwhile, if you get all Americentric, when I looked for the last 12 months just for the US, suddenly, Facebook seemed pretty mellow compared to MySpace. What gives? What country is creating that growth!
Blame Canada, I say. Not content with a currency now worth more than American dollars, not happy with better donuts than America, not happy with the Canadian version of YouTube, they’re screwing the stats. Look:
That’s the chart below the trend lines for all regions, over the past 12 months, ranked by Facebook. It shows you the countries having the most queries for Facebook — and Canada is way at the top of the list. That big red bar shows all the Facebook queries. And there’s South Africa, the UK, Australia before you finally hit a non-Commonwealth country, the USA (have one lousy revolution and suddenly, no one invites you to join their Commonwealth. Geez, if we’d have known…).
Enough politics! How’s it look for the Facebook / Google war?
That’s YouTube, Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, and Facebook measured against each other for all regions over the past 12 months. Impressive, Facebook!
Hotmail should worry (shh, Facebook, don’t tell your partial-owner Microsoft!). And look out, Google! Then again, c’mon — all those queries for Google on Google do indicate a lot of clueless searchers, but I bet Google queries are higher on non-Google search engines. Some people know they don’t need to search for where they’re at! And YouTube? Fahgetit! (And I’m not even from Boston. Or was that a New York forget it?).
OK, caveat time. Judging anything based on search queries is often a fool’s game. Sure, many of those queries will be navigational, people who are trying to find a site — and if lots of people suddenly are trying to find Facebook, that’s good news for Facebook. But then again, people might just be interested in lots of news about Facebook — you know, to prove to others that despite the latest news, it ain’t so hot.
Still, I tend to see the query rises as yet another sign that Facebook is as hot as its investors hope it is.