Why does Turkish startup Sanalika feature on Google Zeitgeist 2009?

[Turkey] Yesterday Google published its Zeitgeist 2009 and the fastest rising search terms across the globe caught my attention. I wasn’t at all surprised to see Michael Jackson, Facebook and Twitter featured. Or even Tuenti. But Sanalika which sits just below Twitter and above New Moon.

I checked many blogs covering the Zeitgeist 2009 and a couple of them never even mentioned Sanalika, while others admitted that they didn’t know what it was, including Robin Wauters writing on TechCrunch:

No, I don’t know why so many people searched for a free torpedo, nor do I know what a sanalika or a dantri.com.vn is, but lists never lie so we’ll take their word for it.

Yes, I too was surprised to see that Sanalika made the list but that’s because it’s a Turkish startup!

So, what is Sanalika?

sanalika_headerSanalika is a virtual world where you can play multiplayer games and join realtime events. It was launched on November 2008 and has already reached over 3 million users.

But how did Sanalika make Google’s Zeitgeist 2009?

Sanalika isn’t yet available in english so that isn’t the reason why it’s become a popular search term. Instead, it’s the way Google is used within the Turkish online community.

Most Turkish Internet users search for the domain or keyword of a website on Google then click on the first search result to go to the actual site. So, when a web service has millions of users it’s inevitably searched for on Google over a million times a day. This doesn’t just affect Sanalika. Facebook is another example too. There are over 14 million Turkish Facebook users which makes Turkey the 3rd largest population on the site, and most of them just search for the word “facebook” on Google and click on the first result. Sometimes the first result is a Google News link about Facebook, which makes the news source’s day with thousands of visitors. I’ve experienced it myself and it feels good!

Anyway, I hope that solves the mystery of why Sanalika shows up on Google’s Zeitgeist 2009.