Yahoo! Search Buzz for 2007: People Taking Action

Today Yahoo! Buzz unveils its Top Trends in Search for 2007 with the top ten news stories, top ten troubled celebrities, and the top ten in tech. But beyond those categories, Yahoo’s lists reminded me that web search is not simply about finding information; it’s often the launch point for action. No wonder advertisers continue to use search to show off their goods! Web search doesn’t just bring you world news and celebrity gossip — it can help you make things happen, whether you want to give an old couch a new home, keep your pets and kids healthy, or find a Wii for Christmas. Here are some key Yahoo! Buzz 2007 findings.

Environmental and Recall Top Ten

You can especially see how Internet searchers use it for action in Yahoo’s Grass is Always Greener (environmental) and Recalling the Recall (news of product recalls) categories. I spoke with Vera Chan, Yahoo senior editor, about the top searches in these categories.

Chan said she saw how environmental issues seem to be penetrating into the global consciousness — at GigaOM, we think so too. The top search trends in that category include Freecycle (recycling through social networking), hybrid cars, and the Live Earth concert. Recently, Chan has seen searches for “solar Christmas lights,” showing again that Internet searches are often about action — in that case, consumer — but with an environmental twist.

The product recall stories that began in the early spring covered pet food, toys, and even peanut butter. Chan noted that people’s searches were quite specific, including manufacturer names and ingredients such as wheat gluten. People also searched for pet food recipes so they could make homemade pet food. Of course, when your pets and children are at risk, your bias is towards action: figuring out which pet food to buy, which toys to send back, and which peanut butter to throw away.

Top Ten Lists: I Already Knew That!

How much can you really learn from top ten lists like this? I think their best use is reminding us what we already knew — such as the horror of the Virginia Tech shootings (#10 on the news list), Al Gore’s resurgence (#6 on environment), and Hannah Montana’s appeal to the school-age set (#5 for Yahoo! kids, the lone celebrity among homework search terms like “George Washington” and “math”).

You probably already knew that web search is not just about learning the latest on Owen Wilson (#10 on troubled stars), but often a crucial step towards action. Web search can make us more knowledgeable and powerful, as citizens and of course as consumers, too.

I felt that this weekend as I searched on “Nintendo Wii” (#7 in Yahoo’s top ten in technology) before scoring my own at Best Buy based on what I learned online. That was yet another reminder that search isn’t always so interesting for what pages it finds but for the action that comes after.

The remainder of the top ten in technology is mostly what you’d guess if you’ve been reading GigaOM this year: YouTube, iPhone, Facebook, and so forth. Yawn.

What do you think will be the Buzz in 2008? Any guesses?