Mashable reports that "Facebook" was the top search term of 2011. They must really have a lot of "mindshare," right? Well, sort of. This study really shows what kind of people use Google (primarily) to get to their favorite website, and not necessarily that they are looking for other information about that site. Other top searches this year included "facebook login" and "www.facebook.com".
Facebook has 800 million registered users, this is a year when practically anyone with a computer and an internet connection has an account. Many of those users know very little about bookmarking, or the advanced capabilities of most web browsers. We've all seen a relative trying to "surf the web". They pull up Internet Explorer and go to Google (or maybe google is their homepage) and type the full address of the site they want, then click the first result that appears. That's not exactly any indication that the user is any more invested in that site or that brand. And, while I'm a big fan of shortcuts and timesavers to reduce repetitive tasks like entering the same search term every time I use my computer, but that might not really be a priority for many users.
This kind of report is more of a reflection on the users of search engines and how people are using technology, not what they searched for. The study by Hitwise is pretty comprehensive, and defines the majority of top searches as "navigational search," which seems to hit on what Mashable's article misses. Its also unfortunate that the study didn't include mobile searches, which is rapidly growing and becoming the primary means of search and experiencing online content.
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