Google and other search engines publish every year a list of the most popular searches, but it's not always clear how it's compiled. This year, Google explained the methodology:
"To compile the 2009 Year-End Zeitgeist, we studied the aggregation of billions of queries people typed into Google search this year. We use data from multiple sources, including Insights for Search, Google Trends and internal data tools. We also filter out spam and repeat queries to build out lists that best reflect the spirit of the times. In some cases, we list the fastest rising queries, which means we found the most popular searches conducted in 2009 and then ranked them based on how much their popularity increased compared to 2008."
The fastest rising query was [Michael Jackson], followed by four social networks: [Facebook], [Tuenti], [Twitter], [Sanalika], a movie: [New Moon], a singer: [Lady Gaga], Microsoft Windows 7, a news site from Vietnam: [dantri.com.vn] and a free SMS service from Brazil: [torpedo gratis].
The only rising query from 2008 included in Google's 2009 list is [tuenti], a Spanish social network. If you take a look at the Google Trends chart for [tuenti], you'll notice that the site's popularity didn't grow in 2009.
Cem Sertoglu says that "Sanalika is a virtual world similar to IMVU or Popmundo. It has not made much of an impact in the Turkish internet scene so far, so I had to double check when I saw its name on the Google list."
Google Insights for Search provides another list of the fastest growing queries in 2009: twitter (+1,550%), michael jackson (+850%), facebook login (+750%), facebook.com (+300%), facebook (+250%), tuenti (+180%), youtube.com (+150%), face (+100%), yahoo mail (+80%), traductor (+50%).
Google Zeitgeist continues to be an enigma.