The ABCs of Search – April 2009

As we do every month, we’ve used Google‘s Search Suggest feature to go through the alphabet and a series of men and women’s names to find trends.    When pressed for what exactly is meant by these suggestions, Google reps often reply that the data is best on commonly searched and clicked for terms.

What you will often find is that the number of pages Google indexes about a particular test does not appear to have a strong correlation to its placement. Doing this process since late 2008 is starting to yield some interesting data.

There still isn’t enough data to really see some trends, but on May 1, we’re pulling data from four U.S. states to see if the suggestion holds together.  This data, as always, was pulled using Google without signing in to an account and on a fresh browser installation through a non-dedicated IP address.

Of the 26 letters in the alphabet, we see that half have not had a switch.  Since late 2008, when we pressed the letter “v” in a Google search box, we were presented with Verizon Wireless as the top choice.  The other 12 letters that have never changed are also huge brands, with the exception of  “dictionary” and “quotes”.  Their presence on the list may explain why Merriam-Webster and Roget are cash cows.

In order, the remaining 12 are:   amazon, craigs list, dictionary, ebay, facebook, hotmail, imdb, myspace, photobucket, quotes, target, and youtube.

Google itself used to be the “g” selection, but that changed this month when Gmail supplanted the home page.  This isn’t surprising given Gmail’s seemingly unstoppable growth.   The first item of interest in this list is the continued presence of national brands.  Google has said for a long time that big brands are a core focus.

Who is the big brand on this list?

One could argue for Amazon, which appears by itself and with movie site IMDb, News Corporation, which owns MySpace and Photobucket and for eBay, which shows up on the list along with its piece of CraigsList.    Not only is branding king, but content remains critical to rank on a search engine.

Interesting Changes This Month

  • Radio Shack has replaced months of Runescape.    Is that a function of the economy sending DIY homeowners to Radio Shack or the notoriously nasty Runescape players reaching their max?
  • Southwest Airlines appeared  — the first time ever any carrier showed.   Hitwise data seems to bear out that we may not be dropping summer vacations, but they may be less expensive this year.
  • The misspelled utube, almost as funny as The Google, ruled the “U” listing for months.   We know that the USPS is considering a move to cut delivery days and that a postage hike hits next month.  Maybe that’s why the postal service beat out the video site for those who can’t spell.
  • After Zappos, one of the best run ecommerce sites ever, placed first for two months, the phrase zip codes returned.  Makes sense in conjunction with the USPS listing, n’cest pas?

Your top listing for April (measurements taken April 1 and not posted then for obvious reasons).  Look out for April’s top proper names, also measured April 1, coming later this week.

amazon
best buy
craigslist
dictionary
ebay
facebook
gmail
hotmail
imdb
jcpenney
kohls
lowes
myspace
netflix
obama
photobucket
quotes
radio shack
southwest airlines
target
usps
verizon wireless
walmart
xm radio
youtube
zip codes
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