During the holiday season, companies, sensing easy publicity, release lists of all sorts and journalists dutifully, or perhaps lazily, reprint them.
This week, the search companies, except for Microsoft, are putting out their lists of top search terms for 2007.
The lists are, as Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of search products and user experience, readily admitted in a Webcast for the press on Tuesday, edited to remove adult-oriented queries and boring queries, like "weather," that prove perpetually popular.
But as Mayer also pointed out, Google lists reflect surges in search term volume and adult-oriented queries generally wouldn't be among Google's top-surging search terms even if they weren't edited because they're relatively constant.
Google's list of fastest-rising search terms in the United States this year is as follows: 1) iPhone; 2) Webkinz; 3) TMZ; 4) Transformers; 5) YouTube; 6) Club Penguin; 7) MySpace; 8) Heroes; 9) Facebook; 10) Anna Nicole Smith.
"There's a huge surge in interest in social networking," observed Mayer, who noted that three of the top 10 rising terms were for popular social networks (four, if you count YouTube). Social networking sites also showed up in lists of top search terms published by other search companies.
Yahoo on Monday presented its list of top search trends in 2007. It's not really comparable to Google's list because Yahoo presents the top searches in several specific categories rather than ranking them by rising or falling volume. Yahoo's top 10 tech terms are: 1) YouTube; 2) Wikipedia; 3) Facebook; 4) iTunes; 5) iPod; 6) iPhone; 7) Nintendo Wii; 8) Xbox; 9) Sony PlayStation 3; and 10) Guitar Hero.
Yahoo posted a variety of lists of top terms for specific categories of content, including top 10 news stories, top 10 environmental searches, top 10 troubled stars, and the like.
Ask.com on Tuesday offered its own list of the most popular search terms in 2007, not to be confused with the fastest search volume growth. Ask's list includes: 1) MySpace; 2) Dictionary; 3) Google; 4) Themes; 5) Area Codes; 6) Cars; 7) Weather; 8) Games; 9) Song Lyrics; 10) Movies.
While lacking in the novelty value of Google's list, Ask deserves special mention for publishing a list that includes Google (the competition) and for presenting terms deemed too boring for inclusion by Google. Yahoo's top 10 list includes YouTube but not Google.