Search Engine Anthropology
What Do Our Keywords Mean?
While doing some keyword research recently, I couldn't help
but laugh. Last month there were 10,700 searches for the "meaning
of life," which seemed like a lot, until I saw that there
were 840,000 searches for "payday loan." It got me
to thinking about what the keywords we use to search for things
online say about our emerging world culture. Some of what I found
Within the database I checked, (Yahoo's keyword selector tool),
there are many men looking for women online. But what kind of
women do they want? Last month there were 944,000 searches for
a "sexy woman." How many searched for an "intelligent
woman?" 158. That's 158, not 158,000. To put that into an
easy to understand ratio, for every man searching for an intelligent
woman, there are 5,974 who just want a sexy one. To be fair,
I have to mention that only 87 searches were done for an "intelligent
What do the searches say about our attitude towards money?
Among the hundreds of money-related search terms, two caught
my eye. Last month there were 10,700 searches for "earn
money," but 12,700 for "get money." Hmm... Are
we so impatient to have money that we don't care if we earn it?
An indication might be the hundreds of thousands of combined
searches for terms like "easy money" (9,700), "
"make easy money" (4,600), "easy ways to make
money" (2,700), "make money fast" (14,700) and
my favorite, searched 2,900 times last month, "make money
quick and easy."
Ethics in general seem to be suffering, if search engine traffic
is any indication. Last month there were 9,700 searches for a
"code of ethics." I thought that was impressive until
compared to the 269,000 searches for "cheat codes."
That's a ratio of 27-to-1, by the way.
It seems we just want to have fun. In fact, there were 194,000
searches for that exact word, as opposed to the minority of 3,450
searchers who wanted "peace of mind." What kind of
fun? "Fun sex" was the answer for 9400 people last
month. With only 49 searches worldwide for a "meaningful
relationship," it seems that those just aren't much fun.
What about our cultural taste for art? That depends on one's
definition, I suppose. There were 1,300 people searching for
"free art" last month, but then that is only one for
every 1,600 people searching for "free porn." Yes,
you read that right. There were over 2 million searches for the
These figures are for September of 2006, by the way . I mention
this just in case you want to track the changes, to do your own
search engine anthropology.
Finally, 23,600 searches last month were for nothing. It wasn't
that they didn't search for anything. No. 23,600 times somebody
typed the word "nothing" into the search engines and
hit enter. I don't have any idea what that means, but it seems
it can't be good. At least almost twice as many (46,500) were
searching for "something."