The continued attraction of poker has again been illustrated - for the third consecutive year - by Lycos's "Most searched word for 2008" news released this week, which shows the game not only at the top of the ten most searched words, but the only gambling term on the list.
The search term "poker" again headed user searches, with "Paris Hilton" trailing in second place and the ubiquitous "YouTube" third. Other most searched terms included:
5. Sarah Palin
6. Britney Spears
7. Clay Aiken the pop singer
8. Pamela Anderson
10. Holly Madison
Poker generating more search activity with Lycos users in 2008 than any other search term. The continued media coverage of major televised tournaments was probably the reason for this. While Hilton jumps ahead of comeback queen Britney Spears in 2008, it was Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who literally came out of nowhere to overtake Spears, Pamela Anderson and Hugh Hefner's former main squeeze and "House Bunny" Holly Madison, making Palin the second most popular woman with web users in 2008, despite the fact that she didn't appear on the search radar until August. Web users' fascination with Palin also pushed online interest in actress Tina Fey to an all-time high, pushing Fey ahead of Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie in search popularity in 2008.
YouTube tripled in online popularity over the past year, jumping to number three in 2008, while Facebook was also a big winner, making the list of top 10 overall search terms of 2008, rising 500 percent in search popularity compared to this time last year. Craigslist also saw a 900 percent bump in search activity in 2008, driving three times more search interest than eBay. But it was MySpace that took a nose dive in 2008, dropping off the search meter, falling out of the top 50 search terms, with search interest down 800 percent compared to 2007.
From the blogosphere, gossip guru Perez Hilton reigns supreme, bumping TMZ.com from the top spot, generating more searches than all other blog sites with Lycos users in 2008. The US Presidential election helped propel searches for the second and third most popular blogs in 2008, the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post, respectively.
In the television world, "Dancing with the Stars" may be tops with TV viewers, but it was "Star Trek Enterprise" that took the trophy with web users, bumping DWTS to number two in 2008, and driving nearly three times more online interest than the number three most popular show, "Family Guy." "American Idol" falls to number five in 2008, behind newcomer "Greek." And just missing the top 10 this year was "Saturday Night Live," driven in part by the now infamous clips of "SNL" parodies featuring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, portraying Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.
TV shows scoring big hits in 2007 like "Heroes" and "Entourage," failed to make this year's list while popular animated series like "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" saw a resurgence in popularity in 2008, making the top 10 TV list.
For the first time since the 2000 Presidential election, two politicians make the list of top men in 2008, including President-Elect Barack Obama, and former GOP candidate John McCain, while the death of two of Hollywood's most popular actors propelled search activity for both Heath Ledger and Paul Newman.
The biggest news story of 2008, based on web search activity, was the collapse and bailout of the U.S. Economy, driven by searches for economic-related terms including bankruptcy, credit cards, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Washington Mutual, Bailout, 401k's and retirement planning. The state of the U.S. Economy also led to an increase in searches for one of 2008's most-searched fads, DIY home improvement, featuring a 600 percent increase in search activity for both Home Depot and Lowe's. The economy may also be responsible for a large increase in search queries for medical treatments for depression and sleeping aids, both up 500 percent in online interest in 2008.
Just behind the US Economy, the second most popular news story of 2008 was the Presidential Election, driven by a frenzy in search queries for election-related terms ranging from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber. Election '08 also sparked search interest in TV news organizations for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks, led by CNN, which generated nearly three times more online interest than MSNBC, Fox News and ABC News.
Based on web search activity, it also appears web users were more interested in the Eliot Spitzer Scandal and the tragic death of Jennifer Hudson's family members, than the devastating hurricanes and earthquakes which occurred in 2008. The War in Iraq, however, did reappear on the Top 10 list of most-searched news events in 2008, making the list for the first time since 2004.
Finally, from the wide web world of sports, Olympic gold medal record-breaking swimmer and endorsement king Michael Phelps makes a first-ever appearance on the top sports list in 2008, along with Boston Celtics star and NBA playoff most valuable player Paul Pierce. Former Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez also jumps into the spotlight online due in part to the very public drama surrounding his mid-season trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while New England Patriots QB pretty boy Tom Brady continues to rack up points online following his season-ending injury suffered in the opening quarter of the Patriots' first game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
Other rankings included:
Top News Stories of 2008:
1. Economic Collapse/Bailout
2. Presidential Election '08
3. Death of Heath Ledger
4. Clay Aiken Comes Out/Becomes Dad
5. Death of Paul Newman
6. Jennifer Hudson Family Murder
7. Eliot Spitzer Scandal
8. Travis Barker Plane Crash
9. Sichuan Earthquake
10. War in Iraq
Top Fads of 2008:
4. DIY Home Improvement
5. Digital TV
6. Weight Watchers
10. The Sims