Sarah Palin A Winner On Google Zeitgeist List

Dennis Faas's picture

Sarah Palin may have lost her vice-presidential bid, but she has won at least one prize this year by topping Google's list of the most popular search terms.

Rather than measuring the raw number of searches for a particular term, the list measures how rapidly a term increased in popularity. Google dubs the study 'Zeitgeist' after a German phrase translating as "the spirit of the times". (Source:

'Sarah Palin' topped the global list with Obama in fifth, which has several possible explanations. First, Obama was relatively well-known at the beginning of the year, while Palin came to the public attention when John McCain picked her as his running mate in August. It's also possible a higher proportion of those searching for the election winner split their queries between 'Obama' and 'Barack Obama'.

Interestingly, 'Obama' tops the list if you only consider US searches. That suggests either that Palin was of more interest as a personality worldwide, or that overseas media outlets paid more attention to her foreign policy stance than US outlets. (Source:

Heath Ledger and the Jonas Brothers were also in the global top ten, with 'Facebook login' and 'Euro 2008' the other English-language terms. The list also included international social networking sites Tuenti (of Spain), Nasza Klasa (Polish for 'our class') and Wer Kent Wenne (German for 'Who Knows Who?'). It's somewhat surprising to see the names of websites appear so highly as one expects most people would simply visit the relevant domain name rather than search for a site.

The iPhone topped the list in the Netherlands while politically-minded Indians searched for the 'sixth pay commission' and people in both Britain and New Zealand looked for details on the Large Hadron Collider project.

The regional lists also showed some surprising celebrity popularity around the world, with Miley Cyrus hitting the Danish list, Chuck Norris raising the interest of South Africans, and Poles showing great interest in Gina Lisa (a contestant on a German reality TV show who appeared in a very special 'home movie'). Indeed, another leaked adult video produced the most cosmopolitan result with the people of Singapore showing particular interest in Edison Chen, a Canadian-born actor and singer based in Hong Kong.

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