Searches Reflect Spectrum of Interests

References to war and the American political landscape are peppered throughout the usual searches for celebrities, sports and entertainment, reflecting the spectrum of issues on the minds of Internet searchers.

Pop culture terms claim the top spots on both the Lycos 50 for the week ending July 3, 2004 and the Yahoo Buzz Index for the week ending July 4, 2004 but slain hostage “Paul Johnson” debuted at #5 on the Yahoo list.

Executed American “Nick Berg” has spent eight weeks on the Lycos 50, dropping this week from #5 to #13. “Kim Sun Il,” the murdered South Korean translator, went from the second most searched term to #19 on the Lycos list.

Other search terms that indicate an interest in serious affairs are:

  • “War in Iraq” – dropping from #18 to #29 on the Lycos 50
  • “American Beheading Video” – debuting at #12 on the Yahoo Buzz Index
  • “U.S. Army” – a re-entry to the Lycos list at #35

Interestingly, “Michael Moore,” whose movie sent Web traffic soaring the week of the release, only appeared at the bottom (#44) of the Lycos list, and “Fahrenheit 9/11” didn’t even rank on either index.

Dean Tsouvalas, manager of content for Terra Lycos and writer of the Lycos 50, explains: “If Web search activity is any indication, people are much more interested in Michael Moore the political activist, as opposed to the films by Michael Moore.”

“The last time we saw a spike for searches for Michael Moore, landing him in the Lycos 50, was following last year’s Academy Awards when Moore gave his highly controversial Bush-bashing acceptance speech when he won for ‘Bowling for Columbine.’ Again, we never saw a rise in searches for the film; but searches for Moore were huge,” noted Tsouvalas.

Similarities abound on the lists, but the absences are more notable. “Euro 2004” – the international soccer competition where Greece pulled a stunning win over Portugal – was the #1 search term on the Yahoo Buzz Index, but the Lycos 50 is devoid of any related terms.

Many of the top 10 items on the Lycos list are absent on the Yahoo Index: “Clay Aiken” at #2; “KaZaA” at #4; “Pamela Anderson” at #5; “Dragonball” at #7; “Poker” at #8; “WWE” at #9; and “Spiderman 2” at #10.

New entries and re-entries to both lists include: Wimbledon winner “Maria Sharapova”; “Fireworks”; “Independence Day”; “MegaMillions”; “Howard Stern”; and “Drudge Report.”

Google’s list of top gaining queries for the week ending July 5, 2004 was also a mix of entertainment and current events issues. “Spiderman 2” rose from #9 the week prior to the top spot. “Debra Beasley Lafave,” the Florida teacher charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student, ranked fourth, and the recently deceased “Marlon Brando” generated enough interest among searchers to claim the fifth position.

The top queries on Google’s list seem to run contrary to the most popular terms found on the Lycos 50. “We have noticed this phenomenon a lot lately – when topics are huge in the ‘offline’ media but just make small ripples with ‘online’ media,” said Tsouvalas.

Tsouvalas compared some of the items that generated considerable buzz in the mainstream media to Web search activity on the Lycos 50.

“Spiderman 2 – not as much interest online unlike the first film which was the first movie to ever hit #1 on the Lycos 50. John Edwards as VP – even though this just happened yesterday, his searches are not up dramatically. Marlon Brando’s death – not even a blip online,” commented Tsouvalas.

Lycos 50 for the week ending
July 3, 2004
Last Week’s
1 Paris Hilton 1
2 Clay Aiken 4
3 Britney Spears 6
4 KaZaA 7
5 Pamela Anderson 11
6 Neopets 10
7 Dragonball 12
8 Poker 14
9 WWE 17
10 Spiderman 2 40
11 Maria Sharapova New
12 Harry Potter 15
13 Nick Berg 5
14 Severina Vuckovic 9
15 Pokemon 20
16 Fireworks Re-Entry
17 Emma Watson 8
18 Las Vegas 21
19 Kim Sun IL 2
20 Independence Day Re-Entry
21 Final Fantasy 26
22 Brooke Burke 19
23 Anna Nicole Smith 24
24 The Olsen Twins 16
25 Weight Watchers 30
26 Jessica Simpson 33
27 NASCAR 41
28 Hilary Duff 22
29 War in Iraq 18
30 Paul Johnson 3
31 Atkins Diet 28
32 Baseball 37
33 Yu-Gi-Oh! 29
34 The Bible 13
35 U.S. Army Re-Entry
36 South Beach Diet 38
37 Jenna Lewis 36
38 Lindsay Lohan 23
39 Christina Aguilera 42
40 Jennifer Lopez 31
41 Wimbledon Re-Entry
42 Carmen Electra 27
43 NBA 25
44 Michael Moore 47
45 Marijuana 39
46 Usher 32
47 Barbie 43
48 MegaMillions Re-Entry
49 JoJo 45
50 Howard Stern Re-Entry
Source: Terra Lycos
The Yahoo Buzz Index for the
week ending May 8, 2004
Last Week’s
1 Euro 2004 4
2 Usher 5
3 Britney Spears 2
4 Jessica Simpson 6
5 Paul Johnson
6 Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban
7 Jennifer Lopez 1
8 JoJo 10
9 Linkin Park 8
10 Drudge Report
11 Eminem 7
12 American Beheading Video
13 Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
14 Hilary Duff 25
15 NeoPets 11
16 Slipknot 12
17 Avril Lavigne 17
18 Christina Aguilera 9
19 Paris Hilton 14
20 D-12 13
Source: Yahoo
Top 10 Gaining Queries
Week Ending July 5, 2004
1. spiderman 2
2. july 4th
3. kirsten dunst
4. debra beasley lafave
5. marlon brando
6. tour de france
7. howard stern
8. wimbledon
9. andy roddick
10. freedom tower
Source: Google

Check out how the search terms have changed over time:
Searchers Get Serious
Diets, Sports, Celebrities Top Search Lists
Do Not Call Harry Potter?
Payment and Entertainment
War and Basketball
Touchdowns, Taxes, and Tragedy
Searches Mostly Entertainment-Related
Virus Becomes Most Popular
Debut of a Salesman
Dragonball Rolls Into First Place
World Cup Kicks Star Wars Out of Space

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