Top 10 Searches of 2011 on Yahoo, Facebook, Bing, Ask

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If you searched for "iPhone" on Yahoo in 2011, get on line. Not online -- you were doing that already -- but on line with everyone else.

Yahoo, publishing one of those end-of-the-year lists that it's run since 2001, said "iPhone" was at the top of its list of top-10 searches for the year, ahead of "Casey Anthony" and "Kim Kardashian." Bing, with a long list of lists, said Justin Bieber was its most-searched person this year. Ask.com, which invites users to frame searches as questions, said its top trending question was, "Was Kim Kardashian's wedding fake?"

Facebook is out with a year-end list too: most-shared news stories. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 were at the top. A piece about Facebook itself -- the announcement of its new Timeline feature -- was No. 7.

These are those kinds of lists that get us all talking, so on with the lists. Here, first, are Yahoo's top searches of 2011:

1. iPhone
2. Casey Anthony
3. Kim Kardashian
4. Katy Perry
5. Jennifer Lopez
6. Lindsay Lohan
7. American Idol
8. Jennifer Aniston
9. Japan earthquake
10. Osama bin Laden

"The iPhone was No. 6 last year, so it's not a newcomer," said Vera Chan, Yahoo's senior editor and Web trend analyst. "It had a cult following that went mainstream in 2011."

A couple of qualifying points: Chan said that to develop its list, Yahoo had to filter out so-called navigational searches -- the routine queries for retail stores, bank branches, the weather, etc. -- that, when you add them up, probably comprise the most common type of search online. People even use search engines -- a lot, apparently -- to look for search engines.

"People use the search bar as an address bar," said Chan.

(A reminder, as well, that in October ABC News and Yahoo News formed a new content partnership. Yahoo said it did not think the most-searched list was substantially changed as a result.)

Conspicuous by their absence were the leaders of previous lists. In 2010, the most-searched term was "BP Oil Spill." In 2009, "Michael Jackson." And from 2005 through 2008, it was "Britney Spears."

Here's a second Yahoo list: the top searches from mobile devices. You're welcome to weigh in on why it was different:

1. iPhone 5
2. Powerball
3. MLB
4. Scrabble cheat
5. Casey Anthony
6. Hurricane Irene 2011
7. Kim Kardashian
8. Translator
9. Amy Winehouse
10. May 21, 2011 Rapture

And here is Ask.com's list of top celebrity search terms and questions:

1. Kim Kardashian: Was Kim Kardashian's wedding fake?
2. Justin Bieber: Is Justin Bieber going to be a dad?
3. Lady Gaga: Are Lady Gaga's face implants real?
4. Beyonce: Did Beyonce fake a baby bump?
5. Kate Middleton: Who made Kate Middleton's wedding dress?
6. Ashton Kutcher: Did Ashton cheat?
7. Michael Jackson: Was Michael Jackson murdered?
8. Selena Gomez: Is Selena Gomez pregnant?
9. Lindsay Lohan: Is Lindsay Lohan going to jail?
10. Charlie Sheen: What happened to Charlie Sheen's teeth?

Ask had separate lists for news stories (the Japanese earthquake was first) and political figures (Barack Obama beat out questions about Mitt Romney's religion). Google, the market leader among search engines, said it will have a list of its own by mid-December.

What emerges from all this? A snapshot of what's most popular -- but it comes with a reminder that people's interests are very diverse. Google has said in the past that on any given day, fully a quarter of the searches it sees are for things people have never looked up on the site before.

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