The end of the calendar year is a time to reflect on our experiences of the last twelve months, and to look ahead to what the next twelve have in store. For many, this means getting together with the family, exchanging gifts and sharing stories of the year’s adventures.
For the technology and information industries, it doesn’t mean sitting around the fireplace and getting nostalgic over a cup of hot cocoa, though. It means year-end statistics; and for the rest of us, this is far more exciting.
Even though I’m a part of the rising tide of journalists who oppose top ten lists, I’ve been collecting all of the “Top 10 of 2010” lists from sites that have access to the most copious amounts of the Web’s data and compiling the data into a roundup of what was most important to the Web this year.
The weightiest site to disclose figures is, of course, Google, and
Google’s Zeitgeist 2010 ranked the topics that gained the most interest in the shortest periods of time this year.
3. Justin Bieber
4. Nicki Minaj
7. Katy Perry
According to Nielsen ratings earlier this year, Yahoo bounced between the positions of second and third most-visited site of the year, and Yahoo’s 2010 Year in Review includes some search terms that were popular in previous years, but have fallen off the map for most other services. The result is a list that looks a little dated.
1. BP Oil Spill
2. World Cup
3. Miley Cyrus
4. Kim Kardashian
5. Lady Gaga
7. Megan Fox
8. Justin Bieber
9. American Idol
10. Britney Spears
Facebook was positioned closely to Yahoo in the year’s Nielsen ratings, but rather than ranking searches, Yahoo listed the most popular phrases to be posted as status updates in Facebook 2010 Memology: Top Status Trends of the Year.
1. HMU (Initialism for “hit me up”, new slang begun in late 09)
2. World Cup
3. Movies (Toy Story 3, Inception, Twilight Saga, etc.)
4. iPad/iPhone 4
6. Justin Bieber
7. Statuses related to Facebook Games
8. Chilean Miners
9. Airplanes (specifically, the song lyric “Can we pretend that airplanes in the nights sky are like shooting stars”)
Google’s YouTube is undoubtedly the leader in Web Video hosting and is the fourth most trafficked site in the United States overall. In YouTube Rewind 2010: The Year in Review, the most popular videos of the year were ranked according to their view counts.
1. Bed Intruder Song
2. “Tik Tok” Ke$ha parody: Glitter Puke
3. Greyson Chance singing “Paparazzi”
4. Annoying Orange Wazzup
5. The Man your Man could Smell like (Old Spice ad)
6. Giant Double Rainbow
7. OK Go “This Too Shall Pass” video
8. Twilight Saga: Eclipse trailer
9. Jimmy Kimmel surprises Bieber Fan
10. Gymkhana three, part 2
Microsoft’s sites fall next in line behind YouTube, and the Most popular overall 2010 searches on Bing reveal a somewhat different mindset of its users.
1. Kim Kardashian
2. Sandra Bullock
3. Tiger Woods
4. Lady Gaga
5. Barack Obama
7. Kate Gosselin
9. Justin Bieber
According to eBay’s free statistics site, Pulse, tech gadgets are unquestionably the most searched-for items, and only 2 out of the 10 most common search queries are non-tech related.
2. Xbox 360
3. p90x (diet/fitness item)
4. iPod Touch
5. iPhone 3G
6. Verizon Cell Phones
7. iPhone 4
8. Xbox 360 Console
10. Coach Handbags
Though Twitter is less popular than Amazon and Wikipedia, those services haven’t released up-to-date figures for 2010, and Twitter’s engineers were more than happy to disclose what its users have been talking about in #Hindsight2010: Top Trends on Twitter, released last week. Fortunately, Twitter’s trends are more focused on current events and not popular culture, similar to the trends already visible in the most commonly edited articles in Wikipedia.
1. Gulf Oil Spill
2. FIFA World Cup
4. Haiti Earthquake
6. Apple iPad
7. Google Android
8. Justin Bieber
9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
10. Pulpo Paul
This is only a selection from the highest traffic sites in the United States, but the trends found here are reflected in the Web’s smaller niche sites as well. FAILBlog, for example, ranked the Horizon Deepwater Oil Spill as the “most memorable fail” of the year by a 34% margin, followed by “fails” related to the iPhone, Winter Olympics, Katy Perry, and the “Bed Intruder” meme.
According to a two-year study published by Arbor Networks last year, about 30 percent of all internet traffic is driven by a disproportionately small number of companies, most of which are included in the list above. So when a term has risen to the top of all of these sites, there’s a significant chance they are among the most commonly searched subjects in the entire Web.