Decade of top searches

Since

2001, Yahoo! has dipped into billions of searches to uncover our audience's

curiosities, interests, and what matters most to them. Unlike editorial

retrospectives or surveys, the rankings come from online users’ own search

behavior. Looking back, these lists truly sketch a society in motion: It's a

unique way to gauge social trends and interests in the year’s top stop stories,

compelling newsmakers, and viral fads.

Take a look back at a dozen years of Top 10s to see how the Web has grown — and

see what

preoccupied readers in 2012.

Osama bin Laden

In the first year of the century, Yahoo released the 20 most popular terms for the first time.

The Yahoo! Buzz Index Top 20 Leaders for 2001:

  1. PlayStation 2
  2. Britney Spears
  3. WWF
  4. Dragon Ball Z
  5. Napster
  6. World Trade Center
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  8. Dale Earnhardt
  9. NASCAR
  10. Internal Revenue Service
  11. Jennifer Lopez
  12. `NSYNC
  13. Las Vegas
  14. Eminem
  15. Osama Bin Laden
  16. Nostradamus
  17. Backstreet Boys
  18. Pamela Anderson
  19. Morpheus
  20. Pokemon
The number one slot belonged to PlayStation 2, which led to the optimistic prognostication "that gaming culture may be on the verge of eclipsing movies and television in the pop culture lexicon."

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, pushed the term "world trade center" into No. 6. The mastermind, Osama bin Laden, registered at No. 15, followed by Nostradamus, due to a hoax that the 16th-century so-called prophet predicted the events. Searches at the time also underwent an "upswing in patriotism. Searches on anthems, patriotic speeches and songs, and the American flag (26) soared as Americans looked for ways to express their support for their country."

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2010: Oil spill, natural disasters, survivor stories

Only once before had a news story taken the No. 1 slot in Top Searches on Yahoo — namely, the death of Michael Jackson. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11. As we noted, "The gushing crude took 86 days to cap. The live feed from the ocean floor became must-watch viewing, as massive online scrutiny monitored best (and not so best) efforts to kill the well and stop the worst spill in marine history."

  1. BP Oil Spill
  2. World Cup
  3. Miley Cyrus
  4. Kim Kardashian
  5. Lady Gaga
  6. iPhone
  7. Megan Fox
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. American Idol
  10. Britney Spears
A whopping 144 articles only skimmed the Search stream in 2010. Monumental natural disasters included earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China, floods in Pakistan and Nashville; an Iceland volcano even grounded global air traffic. Yet tales of heroism amazed us, from the Deepwater Horizon crew, the Chilean miners trapped underground, and the miraculous "return" of kidnapped young girl Jaycee Dugard hiding in plain sight, grown up with her two children.

Decade searches