Search Spotlight

Search Spotlight is a rotating feature that focuses on the different ways people search for information. Currently, it examines the top search topics at Lycos, which are in turn a good indication of what people are looking for across the web as a whole.

Lycos provides an excellent glimpse into searching trends via its Lycos 50 web site. Each day, Lycos 50 examines a different aspect of what we are searching for, based on the keyword searches performed at Lycos. What are the top rock bands? Which toys are hot? What cities are popular? Answers to these types of questions can be found at Lycos 50.

Each week, Lycos 50 also publishes an edited list of the 50 most popular search topics (which is where the site gets its name). The list doesn’t include general terms such as “weather,” some Internet activities such as “chat,” company names, pornographic keywords and some other types of terms. Singular, plural and misspelled forms of words are also consolidated.

Why edit the list? Lycos does this to better focus on the trends that are rising. Otherwise, the list would tend to look very similar week after week.

Recently, Lycos 50 also published an unedited list of popular search terms for a single week. You’ll find that below, along with an edited list of popular keywords for the entire year of 1999. Both lists are reprinted with permission from Lycos 50.

Lycos Top Search Terms: Jan. 16-22, 2000

The list of “unedited” terms below is for the week of Jan. 16 through Jan. 22, 2000. Notice how the unedited list shows that an incorrect spelling of “Pokeman” was more popular than the correct spelling of “Pokemon.” The unedited list also contains general topics such as “chat” and “games” that are normally eliminated during the editing process.

Company names, however, still do not appear. That means you aren’t seeing “Hotmail” on the list. Hotmail is one of the most popular search terms at any of the major search engines, along with variations such as “” and “” Hotmail-related searches are an excellent example of how many people depend on search engines to find company web sites, including a significant number who actually know the site address but mistakenly enter it into a search engine, rather than their browser.

Sexually-related terms have also been removed, except for that perennial list topper, the keyword “sex” itself:

  1. Sex
  2. Pokeman
  3. MP3
  4. Weather
  5. Chat
  6. Pokemon
  7. Britney Spears
  8. Games
  9. Maps
  10. Music
  11. Jokes
  12. Jobs
  13. Lyrics
  14. Horoscopes
  15. Pictures
  16. Chat Rooms
  17. Cars
  18. Lunar Eclipse
  19. Wallpaper
  20. Warez
  21. Movies
  22. American Music Awards
  23. Horoscope
  24. Lingerie
  25. Jennifer Lopez
  26. Dogs
  27. Travel
  28. Backstreet Boys
  29. Greeting Cards
  30. Search Engines
  31. Airlines
  32. Wrestling
  33. WWF
  34. Pamela Anderson
  35. Screensavers
  36. ICQ
  37. Dictionary
  38. Furniture
  39. Mariah Carey
  40. Real Estate
  41. Data Recovery
  42. Personals
  43. Screen Savers
  44. SNES Roms
  45. Online Movie Review
  46. Winzip
  47. Song Lyrics
  48. Dragon Ball Z
  49. Bikini
  50. Free Stuff
Lycos Top Search Terms: 1999

The list below provides a look at the hot topics of 1999. It was derived by looking at all user searches on Lycos from Jan. 1 through Nov. 25 of that year.

  1. Pokemon
  2. Britney Spears
  3. WWF
  4. Dragonball Z
  5. Pamela Anderson
  6. Star Wars
  7. Backstreet Boys
  8. Poetry
  9. Halloween
  10. Blair Witch Project
  11. Tattoos
  12. South Park
  13. Beanie Babies
  14. ‘N Sync
  15. Playstation
  16. Golf
  17. Football
  18. Jennifer Lopez
  19. Las Vegas
  20. Y2K
  21. Wrestling
  22. Pregnancy
  23. Sable
  24. Final Fantasy
  25. NFL
  26. Baseball
  27. Guns
  28. Nascar
  29. Christmas
  30. Hurricane Floyd
  31. Sailor Moon
  32. Marijuana
  33. The Bible
  34. Korn
  35. Shania Twain
  36. DVD
  37. Anna Kournikova
  38. The Simpsons
  39. Jennifer Love Hewitt
  40. Limp Bizkit
  41. Ricky Martin
  42. The IRS
  43. Jenny McCarthy
  44. Nintendo
  45. WCW
  46. Mariah Carey
  47. Carmen Electra
  48. Woodstock ’99
  49. Austin Powers
  50. NASA
More Information

The Lycos 50

Consider making the site a daily visit — it’s always fascinating to read.

Lycos 50 FAQ

Explains exactly what editing is done, and why.

The Lycos 50 – Raw!

More details about the unedited listed of terms.

Lunar Eclipse and Mariah’s Slip

This was the “edited” version of terms for the same time period as the “raw” information, above.

1999’s Hottest Topics — Revealed!

Much more information about the top keywords at Lycos in 1999.

Company Name Test

Shows how well search engines delivered company web sites in response to test queries.

What People Search For

Still curious about how people search? Look at this page in Search Engine Watch for more resources.


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