Michael Jackson tops Google, Yahoo searches

Michael Jackson's death made his name the most searched term on Google and Yahoo in 2009.

Entertainment dominates web activity

Michael Jackson's untimely death in June has topped year-end search lists from both Google and Yahoo.

The search companies released their annual lists on Tuesday as an effort to provide a cultural snapshot of what held the public's interest over the past year. Jackson topped both Google's fastest-rising and Yahoo's overall searches, but he was the only commonality between those two Top 10 rankings.

Search leader Google's fastest-rising searches included Jackson, Facebook (2), Twitter (4), the New Moon movie (6), Lady Gaga (7), Windows 7 (8), Vietnamese portal dantri.com.vn (9) and Portuguese SMS website Torpedo Gratis. Two social network sites also placed in the Top 10: Spain's Tuenti (3) and Turkey's Sanalika (5).

Yahoo's list, in order, was Jackson, Twilight, WWE, Megan Fox, Britney Spears, Japanese anime character Naruto, American Idol, Kim Kardashian, NASCAR and online role-playing game Runescape.

Yahoo said the dominance of pop culture in the searches shows that the internet is being used largely for entertainment purposes.

'Escape to the web'

"We saw consumers escape to the web hoping to pursue news and their guilty pleasures: vampires, political implosions, how to moonwalk — you name it, people went online to find it," stated Vera Chan, a Yahoo trend analyst. "And with economic uncertainty looming, people looked for ways to find stability by searching the web for new jobs, unemployment benefits, and ways to save through old-fashioned coupon hunting."

Google also released a list of Canada's fastest-rising searches as part of its "Zeitgeist" rankings, which partly reflect an increasing tendency to use search engines in place of browser bookmarks. On the Canadian list, Jackson barely made the Top 10, ranking ninth overall. The list, in order, was Twitter, BlackBerry, Yahoo Mail, the Desjardins financial tool AccèsD, Craigslist, Natasha Richardson, Justin Bieber, New Moon, Michael Jackson and Google Street View.