And Yahoo beats all three of them. In fact, the word Yahoo apparently is the undefeated heavyweight champ of Google search terms — search terms, not search engines — according to no less an authority than a new feature from Google called Google Trends. The acronym MSN kicks butt, too, so much so that the term oddly outranks the name of a little company called Microsoft.

All of which leads me to conclude that there is either a screw loose in Google Trends or a logical explanation for these unexpected results that has eluded me so far. Google’s answer below leaves me unsatisfied, but perhaps you’ll judge it differently.

Google has a hard time convincing me that more people intentionally use Google to search on the search-engine names Yahoo and Google than on any other common word or moniker. Go ahead and give it a shot at www.google.com/trends. I’ll even save you the time of trying these words vs. the words Yahoo or Google:

Care to start with names and events in the news? The words Yahoo and Google garner more search queries than the words Bush, Cheney, Iraq, war, Britney Spears, American Idol or Cruise.

So what does Google have to say?

“I don’t think there’s anything specific about search-engine queries that would skew the results. However, one thing to keep in mind is that every part of a search query is counted in Google Trends results,” says company spokeswoman Sonya Boralv. “For example, searches for Google, Google Video, and Google Maps would all count toward results for Google.”

Maybe a little, but nowhere near enough. Here’s another way to phrase what Google is asking us to accept:

The number of Google searches for the word Yahoo plus all the phrases and strings that contain the word Yahoo exceed the number of Google searches for the word sex plus all the phrases and strings that contain the word sex.

In other words, if the Google Trend results do reflect reality, the world of Google searchers would seem to care more about Yahoo than it does Google…or sex. And we know that neither is true…don’t we? Which leaves us little more than room for speculation.

One possibility could be that the results returned by Google Trends for the terms Yahoo, Google and MSN are actually measuring something else, or at least something more. What else? What more? Your guess has to be better than mine.

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