The most popular search term at Google, Yahoo! and Bing in 2009 was that of the late Pop King Michael Jackson.
Jackson dethroned pop princess Britney Spears, a controversy plagued music star that had reigned supreme in annual Top 10 search results at Yahoo! for the previous four years, the California-based Internet firm said Tuesday.
Spears was the fifth most popular search topic at Yahoo! in 2009, ranking behind Jackson; teenage vampire book and film series "Twilight," World Wrestling Entertainment, and rising star Megan Fox in that order.
"We saw consumers escape to the Web hoping to pursue news and their guilty pleasures: vampires, political implosions, how to moonwalk -- you name it, people went online to find it," said Yahoo! trend analyst Vera Chan.
"And with economic uncertainty looming, people looked for ways to find stability by searching the Web for new jobs, unemployment benefits, and ways to save through old-fashioned coupon hunting."
Jackson was also king of Google's list of fastest-rising searches this year, which included social networking websites, "Twilight," and US singer Lady Gaga.
Facebook came second on Google's "Zeitgeist" list, released by the California-based search engine, followed by Facebook's Spanish-language counterpart Tuenti in third place and micro-blogging site Twitter.
The Turkish website Sanalika was fifth ahead of "New Moon," the title of the popular vampire book from the "Twilight" series that was made into a movie.
New York-born Lady Gaga was in seventh place ahead of Windows 7, dantri.com.vn and torpedo gratis.
Google said it filtered out spam and repeat queries to build year-end search term lists "that best reflect the spirit of the times."
Microsoft, in a blog post late Sunday, said "Michael Jackson," "Twitter" and "Swine Flu" were the top three search topics of the year on Bing, which launched in June.
Others making the list of top 10 Bing searches were "Stock Market," "Farrah Fawcett," the actress who died in June, "Patrick Swayze," the actor who died in September, and "Jaycee Dugard," the California girl kidnapped at the age of 11 who turned up alive 18 years later.
Jackson died on June 25 in Los Angeles and an investigation into his death has focused on unlawful prescriptions of the powerful anesthetic propofol.
Microsoft said it had analyzed billions of search queries to come up with the list.
Global Language Monitor (GLM), a Texas-based company which analyzes and tracks language trends, said meanwhile that "Twitter" was the "Top Word of 2009."
"In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words," said GLM president Paul Payack.
Other top words on the GLM list included "Obama," "Stimulus," "Vampire" and "Deficit."
GLM said it uses a "proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet" to compile its rankings.
It said words are tracked in relation to "frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity."