What Were the Burning Questions of May 2012?

What Were the Burning Questions of May 2012?

14th June 2012

This month’s blog is all about questions. The Internet has revolutionised the way we find information but crucially it has also dramatically altered the way we ask questions. Nobody enjoys feeling ignorant – but the beauty of the search bar is that it will never judge you for the gaps in your knowledge! This means people are perfectly comfortable asking Google a question which they wouldn’t dare ask even their closest friends or family.

What this does is create a fascinating insight into what the population is really thinking. There were over 2.5 million unique questions of Who, What, Why, Where, When and How typed into search engines in the UK in May 2012, below are the ten most searched for.

Top 10 most popular questions of May 2012

  1. What does my name mean?
  2. When is Mother’s Day 2012?
  3. What does yolo mean?
  4. How much is my car worth?
  5. Who won Britain’s Got Talent 2012?
  6. When is Father’s Day 2012?
  7. Who is Banksy?
  8. How many pounds in a stone?
  9. How old is the Queen?
  10. What’s futurism?

I’ve deliberately left out “how to” search queries from this list as these tend to be guide-based searches rather than actual questions such as “how to make pancakes”, “how to write a CV” and “how to lose weight”. What we can see from this list is that some questions are quite seasonal and event driven, some are driven by celebrity culture and others are just intrinsically interesting.

So now to answer some of those burning questions. Let’s start with the easy one – in imperial measurement there are 14 pounds in a stone.

As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two events which do not have a fixed date each year this inevitably leads to people checking online when the holidays are. Interestingly, even though Mother’s Day in the UK was on 18 March this year, US Mother’s Day was 13 May which prompted the spike in searches. Father’s Day in the UK is 17 June this year so there is still time to buy your gifts and cards. With the Diamond Jubilee on the first weekend of June it’s not that surprising that people started searching for the Queen’s age (86) although it is interesting that there were 62% more searches for the “how old is the queen” than there were for “when is the jubilee”.

Britain’s passion for celebrity and entertainment are plain to see in some of the other most asked questions including “what does yolo mean” (You Only Live Once) inspired by a new tattoo from Zac Efron and “who won Britain’s Got Talent 2012” which this year was won by Ashleigh and her delightfully talented dog Pudsey. Popular reality show The Apprentice also influenced the questions being asked in May as an increase in searches for the elusive graffiti artist Banksy coincided with an episode of the show where the candidates had to sell street art, which aired on 9 May.

This leaves us with the more unusual questions “what does my name mean”, “how much is my car worth” and “what is futurism”.  Using our clickstream tool Hitwise can show you where people go after conducting a particular search. A massive 62% of searches for the question “what does my name mean” clicked through to www.whatdoesmynamemean.co.uk, whilst webuyanycar.com received 30% of all clicks for searches for “how much is my car worth”. And if you want to understand more about the artistic movement of futurism – then the wisdom of the crowds says Wikipedia is the best place to go, with 18% of search clicks going to this informative page.

So there you have it. 10 of the UK’s most frequently asked questions put to rest.

Until next month.


Written By
James Murray is the Product Marketing Manager for Bing Ads EMEA.
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