Finding the Most Popular Searches on the Web

What are the top searches on the online?

google search bar reflecting off of phone screen sitting on a laptop keyboard

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What are the most popular searches on any given search engine? Many search engines and sites keep track of the top searches on the web, either in real time or in archived lists that you can use to track trends. 

Researching what people are searching for on the web is a great way to keep up with popular buzz, figure out what people are looking for and give it to them on your blog or website, and understand what trends might be coming up. Here are just a few of the sites that track what people are searching for. 

Use Google to Track Trends

Google is the largest, most popularly used the search engine in the world. More people use Google to find information than any other search engine out there, so naturally, Google has some pretty interesting search statistics, trends, and insights. Google's search statistics are, for the most part, public knowledge. Obviously, some proprietary information is going to be kept from the public, but most web searchers will find what they need to know with these resources.

Google Insights: Google Insights takes a look at search volume and metrics over specific geographical regions all over the world, time frames, and subject categories. You can use Google Insights to research seasonal search trends, figure out who is searching for what and where to follow global search patterns, investigate competing sites/brands, and much more.

Google TrendsGoogle Trends gives web searchers a quick look at the Google searches that are getting the most traffic overall (updated hourly). You can also use it to view which topics have been searched for the most (or the least) over a period of time, check if specific keywords have appeared in Google News, investigate search patterns geographically, and much more. Google Trends shows you the latest trending searches by keyword anywhere in the world; this is updated almost in real time, about every hour, and it's a great way to keep track of what topics are getting traction. You can also see related searches to what you're looking for, which actually can come in quite handy if you want to expand or narrow a particular topic. 

Google Zeitgeist: Google reveals what the top searches are by the week, month, and year. Also, includes a look at what the most popular searches are in other countries than the United States. Google Zeitgeist was an annual compilation of the most popular searches worldwide in a variety of categories, with data that was based on literally billions of searches globally.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool: The Google Adwords Keyword Tool gives you a list of keywords that you can filter by search volume, competition, and trends. It's a quick way to measure search statistics for specific keywords and keyword phrases.

Twitter Gives Updates in Real Time

Want to get up to the second updates on what people are interested in all over the world? Twitter is the place to do that, and with the trending topics feature on Twitter's sidebar, you're able to see at a quick glance what is moving people to the conversation. Usually, this is limited to your geographical area, although you can see a wider view if you simply log out of your account and view Twitter that way. 

Find Insights With Alexa

If you're just looking for a quick glimpse of what the most popular sites are, Alexa is a good way to accomplish this task. View the top 500 sites on the web (these are updated monthly) with a brief description of the site; you can also check these stats by country or by category. 

Use YouTube to See What Video Content Is Trending

This wildly popular video site also is a good way to see what people are searching for; again, just like Twitter, you'll have to sign out if you want to see a more objective view not based on your previously viewed videos and/or geographical preferences. 

Track Viewing History With Nielsen

Nielsen Net Ratings is not so much a "top searches" as a popular searches statistics site. Use Nielsen simply by clicking on a country and then click on web usage data. You'll see interesting little tidbits such as "sessions/visits per person", "duration of a web page viewed", and "PC time per person." No, it's not as thrilling as seeing which reality TV show is winning the top search race, but it's educational and therefore good for you.

End of the Year Search Summaries

Many search engines and sites put out a yearly list of their top searches throughout the year; it's a nice way to capture a lot of data and see what was trending in a variety of different topics all over the world. This happens every year for all of the major search engines around November/December time frame. In addition to the top searches, most search engines give searchers the ability to drill down into the data and get a chronological snapshot of why that particular search was getting so much traction at that time; this can give insights that can help with research, especially (see Google's most popular searches and Bing's top searches for examples of this).