A couple of weeks ago, I lost my keys and must have searched my entire house and car at least three times trying to find them. After that last round of searching, I plopped down in a chair in
front of my computer, exasperated. With an open search box in my peripheral vision, I continued to ponder where they might have possibly gone. At that moment, I could have used
something like a Google Key Finder. Imagine an RFID setup for the keychain, combined with a more detailed version of Google Latitude (complete with a home floor plan), and then I'd
type in "where did I put my keys" and be on my way.
Then I wondered, had anyone actually ever entered "where did I put my keys" into a search box? I went to the Google Keyword Tool to find out. Sure enough, there was a search for "where did I put my keys" with an average of 72 searches per month. Another variation was "have you seen my keys" with an average of 22 searches per month. No keys, but perhaps they felt a little better venting into the search box.
As I continued perusing the
Google Keyword Tool, there were a number of other dead-end and clueless searches to be found. Among the other lost items people rely on the Google search gods to find:
- "Where did I put my glasses" with an average of 320 searches per month.
- "Have you seen my stapler" with an average of 390 searches per month.
Realizing that there may be more of these to be found, I went seeking other terms, and scored big time:
- "Who is buried in Grant's tomb" was entered 1,000 times per month on average. The joke is over before the results even hit the screen.
- "What is the number for 911" averaged 36 searches per month. For their own safety's sake, let's hope they figured this out.
But wait - there's even more. A search for "what is" yielded the following gems:
- "What is my name?" was searched 40,500 times per month. Is it a song, perhaps? Maybe they woke up after a rough night out on the town that landed them in front a Google search box? Or maybe there is an epidemic of amnesia?
- "What is my religion" got 320 searches per month. I don't even know what to say about this, other than it strikes me completely strange that someone would legitimately type this into a search box.
"Why am I" also turned up a nice list of stemmed oddities. These two were my favorites:
- "Why am I hot" netted 9,900 searches per month. This phrase is one of two things: A use of the search box as the new "mirror on the wall" for those puzzled by their own hotness, or a question posed by people unaware of the methods of cool air circulation.
- "Why am I always so hot" was searched 36 times per month on average. These people are not just hot, they're always so hot, and they don't know why. Maybe they should go to the front page of Google Hot Trends, and keep hitting refresh until their name appears, and then they will know.
(No, refreshing the page will not make a name come up in Google Hot Trends).
Other "why am I" searches often turn up information that might actually satisfy the searcher, but are still interesting nonetheless. These include:
- "Why I am so tired" - 5,400 searches per month.
- "Why am I sneezing so much" - 16 searches per month.
- "Why am I so broke" - 16 searches per month.
On the existential side of things, the following searches stemmed from (and included) "I am":
- "I am" - 7,480,000 searches per month.
- "I am here" - 550,000 searches per month.
- "I am me" - 201,000 searches per month.
Along the more intellectual side, "what is the meaning of life" has an average of 22,200 monthly searches. Of course when I think about the meaning of life, I think Monty Python, and also found the stemmed phrase, "what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" with 1,590 searches per month. But did they mean African, or European?
Many people who lost their mojo rely on Google to get it back. "Who stole my mojo?" yields 91 searches per month. And for others, Google is also the trusted source for finding stolen dogs ("Who stole my dog?" averaged 12 searches per month).
It's possible that some of these folks may be hitting the wrong box,
presumably mistaking search for a chat, or IM client. But for the others, it's much more interesting to leave it to the imagination to decide.