How people search for Sex? Do Vietnamese search for sex the most !!!

It came across me today again the news about how Vietnamese searches for the sex the most on Google. I think some online newspaper published the news and my colleagues jokingly mentioned that to me.
It’s my nature to second guess everything they say in the news so i decide to see for myself how people in Vietnam search for adult content.
Doing this not only satisfies my curiosity but also help me to bring across a couple of points:

  • A number in silo means very little (close to nothing actually). You need to understand the context, being able to segment the data to find the “real” truth
  • How dependent we , as human being, are on Search engine and how incredibly powerful the data from search engine has become!
  • How search behavior is something that needs to pay much attention to, people in different territories do search differently.
  • It’s easier to showcase a complex/dry concept by using a “funny” example

NOTE: the below post is NOT family safe. So don’t leave your computer unattended while reading this post.

Ok let’s dive in right the way


1. What is the search volume for the search term “sex” for Vietnam market?

Finding this out is fairly easy using Google keyword tool.

For the month of December 2009, the search volume for “sex” in Vietnam is about 45,500,000 , contributing about 10.1% of the global search volume (414,000,000) for the same month.
10% is quite a big contribution isn’t it?
If i change the search term match type to “exact match”, which basically means i want to find out how many people search for the exact word “sex” in Vietnam in December 2009.
The result is below:

As it turns out there were 6,120,000 times the exact word “sex” was searched for in Vietnam in December. This time round Vietnamese search volume “only” contributed 7.3% (Global volume is 83,100,000).
Why am i talking about the search volume of the exact word “sex”?
Well it’s because i want to show that 87% of the time people in Vietnam search for other variations of “sex”, which makes sense because the exact word “sex” alone means little. What do you expect if you type if the word sex only? It’a rather vague isn’t it?
This example also demonstrates another concept “long tail” keywords or keywords with 2,3 or 4 words in it. People do use those more specific keywords to search hence if you are running a search engine marketing campaign (PPC or SEO), it’s necessary to include both generic and specific keywords.

2. How’s the “sex” trend is like in Vietnam?

To answer this question, i use Google Trends. It’s a fairly simple tool. All you need to do is type in the topic that you want to research about, hit “Search Trend” and then customize the results to the territory/time duration that you want.

The result

A couple of things worth noticing from the above result:
  • The trend is going up but marginally from 2004 – 2009. It shows that while Vietnamese started searching for sex early on, over time people don’t tend to search for sex that often anymore.
  • To put things into perspective, in 2004 Vietnam only had around 5.5 million internet users. By 2009, we have 21 million users, 4 times the 2004 number and we don’t see a 4 time increase in the search volume for “sex”
  • Every year there seems to be a huge spike in January or February in terms of search volume for sex. One can speculate that Vietnamese search for sex more often at the beginning of the year? during Chinese New Year period?
  • The trend for 2007 is unique compared to all other years since we saw a huge spike in Oct/mid Nov

Tracing back the timeline realizing that the spike in Oct 2007 was due to the “release” of the “sex tape” of “Vang Anh” in Vietnam. The whole country went “crazy” about it for at least 1-2 months. Overseas newspaper like the Straight Times in Singapore reported about the scandal as well hence the search volume for “sex” during this period jumped 3 times the normal benchmark.


3. How Vietnamese rank compared to other countries in searching for sex?

  • My initial assumption is that in countries with lots of internet users like China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines in Asia, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey in Europe etc… may search for “sex” in their local languages hence the Vietnamese ranking is to high for the word “sex” on Google.


Below are search volumes from various countries for the word “sex” in English and local language

I also upload the original excel file to Google docs in case any of you want to take a closer look
From the table above, we can see that Vietnamese don’t rank first 😀 from both absolute volume point of view and the sex/internet users ratio.
I calculate that ratio to show that for some countries the volume of searches for sex is big due to their large number of internet users.
I don’t know Chinese, Korean, Russian etc… so i use Google translator. Some of the search terms mentioned above may not be correct because of that.
  • Secondly, Google may not be the dominant search engine (with more than 80% market share) in all of the countries. We all know that Baidu is more popular in China compared to Google, Naver is the most popular search engine in Korea or Yandex is used more often in Russia. (for more information on search engine market share update)
What it means is that since we don’t have the exact search volume for sex on those engines, we can’t conclude that Vietnamese search for sex the most in the world.
Data from Korea, China, Japan and South Korea clearly prove this.


4. User search behavior is highly localized.

I briefly touched on the concept of user local user search behavior above by mentioning the fact that the word “sex” alone is too vague. The intention of searchers behind that word alone is unclear. Only 6.1 million out of 45 million is the exact word “sex”. In other words, Vietnamese don’t just blindly type into Google the word “sex” but they have more specific goals in mind when they search. Hence they search for longer phrase 80% of the time.
How about other topic related to sex? I leave you to interpret the data below on your own 🙂

In conclusion, Vietnam is not number one in the world when it comes to searching for sex!
We don’t make it to the top in terms of volume nor ratio of searches for sex/the number of internet user.
The second point is don’t believe whatever the newspaper says and do your own investigation. 😀
Data analysis requires a certain level of expertise and it’s ALL about building the context behind the numbers.
Lastly, i hope you all have some fun reading the above post. Any comments as per usual, can be sent to

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