Yahoo!’s 2009 Year in Review Reflects America’s Need to Escape and to Cope

Michael Jackson is the top Search of 2009; “Twilight” continues to prove its popularity as the No.2 Search; Coupons top the financial list as America struggles

— Today Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) announced its 2009 Year in Review (, which highlights the top Searches and trends on Yahoo!. The annual review, which accounts for billions of Searches, is a distinct way to look at people’s interests and to identify the ways they use the Web to find information and breaking news as it happens.

In 2009, the Web was an integral part of the news cycle as people rushed online to get updates about topics as diverse as the economy, foreclosures, Michael Jackson, unemployment, “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” and health care. And Yahoo! was the No. 1 ranked destination for people to get information that mattered to them most, whether they got the information from their computers or their mobile phones.

As the recession entered its second year, we saw old-fashioned thrift become a necessity, as those lucky enough to have jobs and homes scrimped, saved, and “stay-cationed”. People rolled up their sleeves and dug in to shift from crisis to survival, and went online to make sense of the seeming chaos around them by tracking stories (and welcoming distractions) throughout the year.

“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,” said Vera Chan, a Yahoo! Search 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.”

The King of Pop knocked the pop princess off her Search perch in 2009. Britney Spears — who dominated Yahoo!’s Top 10 Overall Searches for the past four years –dropped from the No. 1 position to No. 5 this year, behind Michael Jackson, the book and film series “Twilight,” World Wrestling Entertainment, and rising star Megan Fox. Michael Jackson’s death broke many records on Yahoo!. His memorial was the single most streamed event in Yahoo!’s history, with five million total streams. The popularity of “Twilight” hit an all-time high in 2009 — with every “Twilight” book, DVD, and soundtrack release; and with every piece of cast gossip, massive numbers of “Twilighters” went online to search for more.

Top 10 Overall Searches for 2009

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Twilight
  3. WWE
  4. Megan Fox
  5. Britney Spears
  6. Naruto
  7. American Idol
  8. Kim Kardashian
  10. Runescape

More than ever before, people used mobile devices to discover new things, stay connected to people they care about and stay informed — all while on the go. Mobile devices emerged as essential and indispensable to the lives of many Americans.

Top 10 Yahoo! Mobile Searches for 2009

  1. Megan Fox
  2. Mobile Games
  3. Michael Jackson
  4. Movies
  5. Rihanna
  6. Mail
  7. Lady Gaga
  8. NFL
  9. Ringtones
  10. iPhone

As the unsteady U.S. economy continued to dominate national headlines in 2009, Americans scoured the Web for anything related to finding new jobs, going back to school, saving money, and learning how to start their own businesses. President Obama’s stimulus plan caused many people to ask questions and turn to the Web for answers. And strong interest in Bernard Madoff’s infamy was confirmed in widespread Searches on Yahoo!.

Top 10 Economy-Related Searches for 2009

  1. Coupons
  2. Unemployment
  3. Stimulus Plan
  4. Cash for Clunkers
  5. Student Loans
  6. IRS Refund
  7. Foreclosures
  8. Government Jobs
  9. Bernard Madoff
  10. Health Care Bill

President Obama made headlines nearly every day. People turned to Yahoo! to learn more about his transition from his campaign, which had been a huge story in the 2008 Year in Review, to his actual swearing-in as the 44th president of the United States.

Top Obama Searches for 2009

  1. Obama Inauguration
  2. Obama Biography
  3. Obama Speech
  4. Obama Stimulus Plan
  5. Obama Family
  6. Obama Health Care Reform
  7. Obama Approval Ratings
  8. Obama Facebook
  9. Obama Overseas (a roundup of his numerous travels)
  10. Obama Dramas (a roundup of controversies)

Deaths of well-known personalities often trigger Searches on Yahoo! about the circumstances of the death and the person’s relationships, memorials, and biographies. This year saw its share of celebrity deaths.

Top 10 Celebrity Farewell Searches for 2009

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Farrah Fawcett
  3. Patrick Swayze
  4. Natasha Richardson
  5. Jett Travolta
  6. Billy Mays
  7. David Carradine
  8. Steve McNair
  9. Jade Goody
  10. Ted Kennedy

We also saw that, as information travels at hyperspeed on the Web, the cycle of fame, fortune, downfall, and redemption can occur within days. People turned to Yahoo! to escape and indulge in some guilty pleasures by following these overnight sensations’ every move.

Top 10 Sudden-Fame Searches for 2009

  1. Jon & Kate Gosselin
  2. Erin Andrews
  3. Susan Boyle
  4. Kris Allen & Adam Lambert
  5. Nadya Suleman
  6. Carrie Prejean
  7. Governor Mark Sanford
  8. Portuguese Water Dog
  9. Falcon Heene
  10. Sonia Sotomayor

People’s fascination with science continued in 2009 as we saw a frightening virus spread like wildfire, a computer worm affect millions of PCs, and natural disasters devastate the Asia-Pacific region.

Top 10 Science-Related Searches for 2009

  1. Swine Flu/H1N1
  2. Solar Eclipse
  3. Perseid Meteor Shower
  4. Conficker Worm
  5. NASA Space Shuttle
  6. Tsunami
  7. Stem Cell
  8. Bermuda Triangle
  9. Climate Change
  10. Hubble Space Telescope

The Year in Review also looked at the most searched sports teams/athletes, music artists, and politicians.

Top 10 Searched Sports Teams/Athletes for 2009

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Maria Sharapova
  4. Danica Patrick
  5. New York Yankees
  6. Los Angeles Lakers
  7. Gina Carano
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers
  9. Anna Kournikova
  10. Serena Williams

Top 10 Searched Music Artists for 2009

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Britney Spears
  3. Beyonce
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. Rihanna
  6. Lady Gaga
  7. Taylor Swift
  8. Jessica Simpson
  9. Mariah Carey
  10. Vanessa Hudgens

Top 10 Searched Politicians for 2009

  1. Barack Obama (more than double the next contender)
  2. Sarah Palin
  3. George W. Bush
  4. Hillary Clinton
  5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  6. Nancy Pelosi
  7. Ted Kennedy
  8. Corazon Aquino
  9. Prince William
  10. Charlie Wilson

New to Yahoo!’s 2009 Year in Review, people can tweet their own top moments of 2009 and have an opportunity to win an iPod touch with a $100 iTunes gift card. Learn more:

Yahoo! has created a Year in Review Rewind video. Check it out here:

To find out more about the Yahoo! 2009 Year in Review and other top searches, go to or search for “2009 Year in Review” on

About the Yahoo! Year in Review Methodology

To develop the Yahoo! Year in Review, our editors analyze Search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth versus previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. Individual users and their Search queries always remain anonymous.

About Yahoo!

Yahoo! attracts hundreds of millions of users every month through its innovative technology and engaging content and services, making it one of the most trafficked Internet destinations and a world-class online media company. Yahoo!’s vision is to be the center of people’s online lives by delivering personally relevant, meaningful Internet experiences. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit or the company’s blog, Yodel Anecdotal (

Yahoo! is the trademark and/or registered trademark of Yahoo! Inc.

All other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE: Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc.
Carolyn Clark, 646-213-6223

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