Search World Turns Towards Burma

    October 4, 2007

Top search terms aren’t always of vital significance – Google Trends currently places “when was the first bottle of coca cola sold” at number six, for example.  But search terms can also relate to very important matters, and a focus on Burma reflects this reality.

“Searches for ‘burma’ increased 17 fold last week, with the largest proportion of traffic going to Wikipedia and the news sites,” reports Hitwise’s Robin Goad.  Those destinations could have been predicted; beneath some map-related images, Google+Search”>Google shows Wikipedia as its number one result.  News results are sprinkled slightly farther down.

Sponsored links are also filling up the page, however, and they bear messages including “Burma Emergency Appeal” and “Help Burmese Refugees.”

So it makes sense that Goad is able to state, “[T]he fourth and fifth recipients of traffic were aid sites: Burma Campaign, specifically set up in response to the current crisis, and Witness, a more general human rights campaign group.”

Burma Lifeline and the Burmese Goodwill Assistance Project are also listed at GoodSearch, an engine that donates to charities.

Returning to Google, the search giant has even gotten pulled into events in Burma through its Google Earth program.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science discovered images from 2004 that showed a small settlement in the middle of dense vegetation; by 2007, all that can be seen is green.

Google and other search engines may not play a direct role in the ongoing crisis, but they’re helping, just the same.