Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

You Spent the Last Year Searching for “Facebook”

Google can do all sorts of amazing things. But the thing that we ask it to do most frequently, it seems, is to fetch our Facebook home page.

Experian Hitwise reports that “Facebook” was the most popular search term on the Web this year, accounting for an enormous 3.1 percent of all searches. Add in related queries like “facebook.com” and “www.facebook.com,” and Mark Zuckerberg’s company accounted for four of the year’s Top 10 searches.

If this surprises you, it’s because you’ve never looked at this kind of query data before. Punching the name of a Web site into a search engine — either intentionally, or by accident, because you’ve confused the URL bar with the search bar on your browser — is a time-honored Internet tradition. Many moons ago, for instance, “AOL” and its cousins used to show up at the top of these lists.

As it is, the rest of the Top 10 is filled out by big, relatively ancient Web brands. Which again might give you some clue as to what’s going on here — people probably really aren’t searching for “YouTube,” and “MySpace” and “eBay” and “Yahoo” — they just can’t figure out how to get there. That’s a distinction with a difference.

Important sidenote raised by Greg Sterling: None of Experian’s Top 10 entrants show up on the “top” lists that services like Google, Bing and AOL provide.

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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo