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Yahoo Identifies Year’s Top Searches

What did Saddam Hussein and Britney Spears have in common in 2007? Both were top searches on the search engine Yahoo.

Yahoo has released “2007 Top Trends in Search,” a nifty section of its site that lists and comments on the year’s top topics as determined by Yahoo, which boasts 500 million users worldwide.

Yahoo broke its findings down into nine categories:

News

Grass is Always Greener (the environment)

Celebrity Downslides (troubled stars)

The Year of I, You, and Wii (technology)

Recalling the Recall (consumer call-backs)

Hits, Runs & Errors (sports news)

A Final Farewell (send-offs)

Tag, You’re It (top topics from del.icio.us, a “shared bookmark” technology from Yahoo)

Elementary Deductions (top stories from Yahoo! Kids)

“On the brink” was how Yahoo termed the commonality of topics.

“From billions of searches emerged a fascinating portrait of a culture on the brink–of environmental changes, political breakaways, celebrity breakdowns, and technological breakthroughs.”

Each category is clickable, delivering the top 10 searches by each category. Some searches are fairly general (e.g. Iraq), others specific (San Diego Fires).

The top news search was Saddam Hussein.

“In the first days of January, cell phone footage of Saddam Hussein’s final moments leaked out and tore a blistering path across the Web,” wrote Yahoo.” The Iraqi dictator’s death by hanging happened at the very end of 2006. Yet the gruesome footage of the event so rattled the Web that searches for the deposed leader dwarfed all other news queries in 2007.”

Rounding out the News category were: Iran; Iraq; President George W. Bush; Oil and Gas Prices; Barack Obama; Hillary Rodham Clinton; San Diego Fires; Afghanistan; and Virginia Tech.

Interestingly, of all the presidential candidates from any party, only Obama and Clinton made the top 10.

Yahoo commented: “The GOP candidates certainly know how to spark buzz, and we’ve seen hefty spikes on Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and, most notably, Ron Paul over the past 365 days. But their numbers don’t come close to Obama’s or Clinton’s. Regardless, searches for a candidate by no means translate into votes. Just ask Howard Dean about that.”

In the “Grass is Always Greener” category, recycling was the top search, followed by global warming. Al Gore was No. 6 and hybrid cars No. 9.

Britney Spears was the top celebrity search, with Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Last year, Spears was not only the top celebrity search, but the top search overall.

YouTube had the top technology search, but iTunes, iPod and iPhone anchored the middle of the list.

“Technology wasn’t so much breaking new ground, but entering into a new maturity,” wrote Yahoo. “Our personal gadgets and webpages had at last connected and united us. In 2008, we expect only upgrades.”

NASCAR was the top sporting search, and Harry Potter topped the “Final Farewell” category.

And kids’ most searched-for topic? Games, eclipsing dinosaurs, math, George Washington and even Hannah Montana.

No topics about faith, religion or spirituality made any of the lists.

Yahoo said its methodology involved analyzing “search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth versus previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface.”

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.