Ten Years of Search Terms

With 10 years of watching Web users search under its belt, The Lycos 50 has released a recap spanning from September 1995 through the week ending September 17, 2005.

The ever-preserved Pam Anderson tops the list in the number one spot spurring Dean Tsouvalas, writer of the Lycos 50 list, to declare it, “The decade of Pam Anderson.” Other personalities have survived on the list, including Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson — though the latter’s appearance is likely due to the infamous wardrobe malfunction.

The Lycos 50 has grown into a bellwether of emerging trends, according to Tsouvalas. “From what I understand, insiders in the marketing world have all bookmarked the top 50. It’s a smart way of understanding the Web, which at times can be intangible, but this makes it tangible for real people.”

Marketers familiar with oft-used search terms can leverage their popularity in marketing campaigns. Alternatively, they could align themselves with a brand that has popped up on the list. In the case of Pam Anderson, Tsouvalas points out that PETA is very aware of its spokesperson’s brand.

Brands like Dragon Ball Z and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) both found their brands recognized by Lycos for the volume of searches and adapted marketing plans around the attention. WWE has pursued viral campaigns after learning of its online popularity, according to Tsouvalas.

“WWE fans are enthusiastic online, and that’s very powerful,” said Tsouvalas.

Over the years, many events captured the attention of Web users, but only a few made the Lycos 50 recap.

“As we looked back at the most-searched terms over the past 10 years, two stand-out news events, beyond the September 11 attacks on America, include the OJ Simpson trial, and the death of Princess Diana,” said Tsouvalas. “Other news events making the top 50 list from 1995 through 2005 include searches for JonBenet Ramsey and John Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, as people continue to search for information today based on their enormous global news appeal and conspiracy theories surrounding their deaths.”

Tsouvalas sees the Lycos 50 as a way to keep a finger on the pulse of the Web, and pop culture. “Marketers benefit, and I think they do pay attention to the list,” said Tsouvalas. “It’s an accurate pulse of what’s resonating with people today.”


Lycos 50, September 1995-September 2005
Rank Search Term
1 Pam Anderson
2 Dragonball
3 Pokemon
4 Britney Spears
5 WWE
6 Tattoos
7 Las Vegas
8 NFL
9 September 11
10 Christmas
11 Princess Diana
12 Jennifer Lopez
13 The Bible
14 Halloween
15 The IRS
16 ‘N Sync
17 Final Fantasy
18 Star Wars
19 Backstreet Boys
20 Marijuana
21 NASCAR
22 Baseball
23 Anna Kournikova
24 Janet Jackson
25 Golf
26 OJ Simpson
27 NBA
28 Tupac
29 Harry Potter
30 The Simpsons
31 Sailor Moon
32 Eminem
33 JonBenet Ramsey
34 Selena
35 Mariah Carey
36 Carmen Electra
37 Howard Stern
38 NASA
39 Christina Aguilera
40 War in Iraq
41 KaZaA
42 Osama bin Laden
43 Madonna
44 Oprah Winfrey
45 Poker
46 Diets
47 Nostradamus
48 Napster
49 JFK Jr. & Carolyn Bessette
50 Star Trek
Source: Lycos, 2005

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