Friday, October 19, 2007

Someone Is Searching for Your Burritos

There is a (probably) apocryphal story, dating back four decades or more, about the Reader's Digest, whose editors had hired a consultant to determine which of the magazine's articles were most popular, and how they could use that information to increase sales, especially at newsstands and supermarket check-out lines.

After researching several years of editions and sales, the consultant came back with a report that the most popular items in Reader's Digest were biographical pieces on Abraham Lincoln, human interest stories about household pets, tales of Cold War espionage, articles about Nazis, and first-person accounts.

To maximize sales, the consultant suggested, the magazine's cover should place this headline prominently:

This came to mind when I saw a Reuters report this week on the most popular Google search terms around the world. The dispatch, datelined Berlin, begins:
Internet users in Egypt, India and Turkey are the world's most frequent searchers for Web sites using the keyword "sex" on Google search engines, according to statistics provided by Google Inc.

Germany, Mexico and Austria were world's top three searchers of the word "Hitler" while "Nazi" scored the most hits in Chile, Australia and the United Kingdom, data from 2004 to the present retrievable on the "Google Trends" Web site showed.

Chile also came in first place searching for the word "gay," followed by Mexico and Colombia.
Reuters lists the top ten search terms (and the countries where they reign highest) as follows:
"Jihad" - Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan

"Terrorism" - Pakistan, Philippines, Australia

"Hangover" - Ireland, United Kingdom, United States

"Burrito" - United States, Argentina, Canada

"Iraq" - United States, Australia, Canada

"Taliban" - Pakistan, Australia, Canada

"Tom Cruise" - Canada, United States, Australia

"Britney Spears" - Mexico, Venezuela, Canada

"Homosexual" - Philippines, Chile, Venezuela

"Love" - Philippines, Australia, United States
Pulling up the rear on Google's list -- as reported by Reuters and other sources -- were these eight search terms:
"Botox" - Australia, United States, United Kingdom

"Viagra" - Italy, United Kingdom, Germany

"David Beckham" - Venezuela, United Kingdom, Mexico

"Kate Moss" - Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden

"Dolly Buster" - Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia

"Car bomb" - Australia, United States, Canada

"Marijuana" - Canada, United States, Australia

"IAEA" - Austria, Pakistan, Iran
Except for "Dolly Buster" (which was unknown to me but seems to refer to a Czech-born porn star popular in Central Europe), all of these key words are fairly mundane. Only in the context of where they are popular do they raise eyebrows.

As frequent readers of this blog know, there are some odd search terms that bring people here. Some are odder than others, and some become less odd through repetition and the formation of patterns. For instance, from among the last 4,000 visitors, there were a cluster looking for presidential candidate Ron Paul in various configurations:
ron paul, tom coburn
ron paul, thoughts on global warming
ron paul university of virginia
ron paul tinky winky
ron paul thoughts on gay people
ron paul satanic hand gesture symbol
ron paul opposes dadt
ron paul on gay and lesbian issues
ron paul minority gay individual rights
ron paul judaism
ron paul don't ask don't tell catholic
ron paul and dadt
ron paul "reading list"
This should be expected, given Ron Paul's high profile on the Internet. (By the way, it is now confirmed that Dr. Paul will be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC on Tuesday, October 30. Check your local listings.)

Then there is another cluster of search terms, all of them focused on the male torso:
shirtless teen idols
shirtless students photos
shirtless rudy guliani
shirtless robert redford
shirtless ricky nelson
shirtless prince william
shirtless prince harry
shirtless pictures of ricky nelson
shirtless pictures of jeremy sumpter
shirtless pictures of daniel radcliffe
shirtless pics of jesse palmer
shirtless missionary calendar
shirtless male postings
shirtless malcolm frankie
shirtless lou taylor pucci
shirtless josh hutcherson pics
shirtless josh hutcherson
shirtless hunter parrish
shirtless dave
shirtless college students
shirtless blogs
Most of these terms are too specific to show up on Google Trends. Some of these, however, might rate a Google Trends report:
penis size report
penis size percent
penis size debate
penis size blog
penis length in vergina
older women and penis size
At least "penis size" without qualifying terms shows up there. (It turns out Australians are most interested in penis size, followed by Americans, Canadians, Britons, and Indians.)

A lot of readers like to put their searches in the form of a question. Either they are used to playing Jeopardy or they cut their web teeth on Ask Jeeves. Here are some of those questions, just those beginning with the word "is" (and not, so far as I know, dependent on what the meaning of "is" is):
is virginia an open primary state
is this the right way to say fish fry's
is sweeney todd appropriate for preteens
is ron paul gay friendly?
is joshua bell circumcised?
is josh hutcherson circumcised?
is jeremy sumpter circumcised'
is hunter parrish gay?
is harry potter circumcised?
is frankie muniz circumcised
is former porn queen jennifer wells evading taxes?
is cuba theocratic
is bob fosse still alive
has bob fosse been found?
is aaron carter circumcised?
Then there are just the inscrutable search terms -- some of them in the form of a question, some not -- that just boggle the mind. What were they thinking? What were they really looking for?
how to say the american national anthem in pig latin
homoerotic spelling bees
hayek et olim meminisse juvabit
10 reasons why frankie muniz sucks
mike huckabee "respects" sexual deviants
family bestiality
yiddish translation for underpants
what is it with judy garland and gays?
And, finally, there is this recent search, from a reader in Kenya:
pictures of circumcision in progress in uganda
Check back in a few months. This collection will grow and grow and the time will come to revisit the topic.

By the way, thanks to Vodka Pundit for linking to my recent post on Sir Ian McKellen's appearance on the Craig Ferguson show. That link has more than doubled my traffic this week.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having arrived here, no kidding, on a Google search for "homoerotic spelling bees", I can answer that one! The phrase was in an xkcd comic about things you can't find on the internet; since xkcd readers are by now notorious for that have been , I imagine your previous visitor did what I did and fired up Google to see what the internets had brought forth in response.

Aren't you glad you asked?