Yahoo has released its year-end list of top Web searches, which identify the trends form the past year. There are a number of lists available, including the top overall searches, top searches by country and top searches in a number of verticals, like finance, sports, questions and “obsessions” (hot items throughout the year).

But we’re most interested in the top mobile searches, of course, and how those search trends compare to Web search in general.

To begin, let’s look at Yahoo’s top search for 2010. For the first time ever, a news story (the BP oil spill) made it into this list, and not only that, but it reached the #1 spot. Typically, top searches are more entertainment or celebrity-focused, as the rest of the list clearly shows. But something about the oil spill encouraged the most searches. Not only did people check constantly for updates (“Is it capped yet? How about now? Now?!), Yahoo’s Web Trend analyst Vera Chan speculated that the news also tapped into our society’s deeper concerns about the role of big government in managing natural and manmade disasters.

Top Searches on Yahoo! in 2010

  1. BP oil spill
  2. World Cup
  3. Miley Cyrus
  4. Kim Kardashian
  5. Lady Gaga
  6. iPhone
  7. Megan Fox
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. American Idol
  10. Britney Spears

Mobile Search Trends, Compared

What’s interesting, however, is comparing the top searches list (above) to the mobile vertical. Here, the oil spill registered at the 10th spot – it didn’t even make the top 5. Why is that? Well, beyond wanting to know whether or not it was capped, really understanding the oil spill was a more complex, time-consuming process than is typically possible via mobile. Analysis of the proposed solutions involved being able to digest a number of details, then compare those details to earlier plans, failures and other options – a task that is often best suited to the “desktop” Web.

Instead, mobile users were after “breaking” news. Sports scores, like those from the NFL, NBA, World Cup and Olympics were hot on this list, for example. American Idol fits in with this group too, as it involved breaking “scores” as well (i.e. who was voted off that week).

?Top Mobile Searches on Yahoo! in 2010

  1. NFL
  2. Lady Gaga
  3. Rihanna
  4. Sandra Bullock
  5. NBA
  6. World Cup
  7. Justin Bieber
  8. American Idol
  9. Winter Olympics
  10. BP oil spill

But what about the celebs on this list, why did they rank the way they did? Lady Gaga was likely hot on mobile because people were searching for her YouTube videos – the most watched videos of the year, said Wang. As for Rihanna, searches for both videos and lyrics were popular.

For Sandra Bullock, however, the news surrounding her this year involved continual updates. (Bullock, if you remember, ended up divorcing her husband after news of his infidelity was released.) But the news wasn’t just one big story that hit all at once – it was an ongoing saga where each day revealed more details.

Continual updates, real-time details, immediate access: that’s what mobile search is all about, whether sports, celeb or music – that’s the big takeway from Yahoo’s data reveal. It’s one of those things we already knew, but it’s good to see it backed up with actual data, too.