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Top Mobile Search Keywords 2008

posted January 27, 2009

At the beginning of the new year I've noticed a lot of backwards-looking traffic in my analytics. Many of you are finding this blog while looking for insight into the top mobile search queries entered in 2008. A number of other blogs reported these in December of 2008 when the engines released them, but to my knowledge none of them gave search volume for the queries, and few places have even aggregated the content into a single page. Therefore, search and you shall receive... I give you the top mobile search terms of 2008, as reported by Yahoo! Mobile, AOL Mobile and Google Mobile India:

Yahoo! Top Mobile Searches 2008

  1. MySpace
  2. Facebook
  3. Craigslist
  4. Movies
  5. Weather
  6. Olympics
  7. The Dark Knight
  8. Kim Kardashian
  9. eBay
  10. AIG

AOL Mobile Search Top Mobile Searches 2008

  1. MySpace
  2. AIM
  3. iPhone
  4. MocoSpace
  5. Facebook
  6. Craigslist
  7. Weather
  8. Free Ringtones
  9. MapQuest

Google Mobile Top Mobile Searches 2008 ? Google India

  1. orkut
  2. yahoo
  3. waptrick
  4. gmail
  5. games
  6. katrina kaif
  7. rediffmail
  8. yahoomail
  9. namitha
  10. google

The Yahoo! and AOL lists have the following four terms in common:





...which makes a total of 26 unique mobile search terms between the three engines. I took those 26 queries, assigned a category using Ad Intelligence as a guide, and assigned both desktop search volume and Google mobile search volume according to the new Google mobile keyword tool's estimates. For the complete list, switch to the desktop site.

I'll be doing a larger post on popular Google mobile queries in the future, and the data is what it is given that it's an estimate of the total opportunity and not actual search query volume, but a few observations on the data for now:

Certain mobile queries have as much or more of the volume that the same queries have on desktop. In total the mobile search volume for all of these queries is more than 3% of the total search volume, which is larger than the 1% I've heard anecdotally.

The query "free ringtones" is one that would almost certainly be interpreted as being a mobile query, given that it's for mobile content. Yet the volume is only 16% of the total volume. I would expect it to be higher.

A lot of the usual suspects come up in terms of popular mobile search categories: mobile social networking, celebrities, local interest, arts and entertainment. There are some keywords (like AIG, the Dark Knight) that are seasonal drivers and wouldn't necessarily represent long term opportunities for traffic. However, they do demonstrate the popularity of news searches in mobile search.

Again, no adult queries. This is likely due to the data being filtered beforehand. I will look at adult queries and other popular categories in a later study.

What should marketers take from this look at last year's mobile volume drivers? Let me put it this way: if you or your clients were selling anything in 2008 that related to any one of these things and you didn't target mobile users, you missed out on millions of impressions and possible conversions. The engines provide this mobile search data so we as marketers can take advantage of the opportunity today. Hopefully this list makes that a little easier for marketers to understand the mobile opportunity and target the most qualified mobile users in 2009.

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