Most Searched ETFs On

We look at the tickers garnering the most investor attention so far this year.

Reviewed by: Cinthia Murphy
Edited by: Cinthia Murphy

If you’ve ever wondered what ETFs your friends are most curious about, wonder no more.

Our data show that the most-searched ETF tickers on this year are a mix of veteran behemoths, hot themes and highly traded strategies.

Reader traffic on fund pages doesn’t necessarily suggest investors are buying or selling these ETFs, nor does it say anything about a fund’s performance. It simply shows what U.S.-listed ETFs among the 2,100-plus on the market today are currently capturing investors’ imaginations.

So, here’s our list of the five most-searched ETFs year-to-date, ranked here from most popular to least:

1. PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ)

Technology is the best-performing S&P 500 sector so far this year, posting gains of more than 9% while the S&P 500 is up 2%. That strong relative performance could be fueling investor interest in QQQ, which some consider to be the father of all tech ETFs—even though QQQ as a tech fund is more perception than fact.

QQQ is actually not a tech ETF, but a Nasdaq-listed securities ETF. The fund owns 100 securities listed on the Nasdaq exchange, and it excludes financial stocks, resulting in a portfolio that tilts heavily toward tech companies as well as growth names.

However you look at QQQ, there’s no questioning its popularity and staying power, as the fund—launched in 1999—boasts almost $64 billion in assets under management, and trades just over $7 billion on average every day.



2. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)

Seeing MJ as the second-most-searched ETF on our fund pages only goes to show that, like it or not, everyone is talking about marijuana ETFs. MJ is the only marijuana ETF in the U.S. today aside from a broader strategy that includes exposure to the segment, the AdvisorShares Vice ETF (ACT)

The fund had a rocky entrance into the space, having first come to market as a Latin American real estate ETF under the ticker ‘LARE.’ That strategy in late December 2017 switched gears to offer exposure to global companies that cultivate, produce, market and sell cannabis and/or tobacco products. The new portfolio got a new name and a new ticker, “MJ,” and investors haven’t been able to look away since.

MJ now has about $372 million in assets under management, gathered largely since last December. And there probably are enough questions lingering about risk, custody and the growth of this segment to keep investors hooked for a while, even though the fund’s performance hasn’t impressed so far this year.



3. SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY)

This is a little surprising: SPY is No. 3 on our list, not No. 1.

This U.S. large-cap ETF of S&P 500 companies is the world’s largest, and by a significant margin too, with $257 billion in total assets.

SPY is also often the most-traded security in the world, with daily volume averaging more than $22 billion. And let’s not forget SPY is the first-ever U.S. ETF—the one that gave way to all the others. It’s the biggest, most popular, most traded and probably most talked about ETF of them all.

But year-to-date, given that the S&P 500 Index is delivering lukewarm gains of 2%, the fund hasn’t led our list of most searched ETFs—not that coming in third is bad at all.



4. Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK)

This one is all about performance. Much like QQQ, XLK is riding high in a technology sector that’s on fire. XLK tracks the best-performing S&P 500 sector year-to-date, so it’s unsurprising it’s one of the most-searched by investors this year.

XLK is one of the market’s veterans, having launched in 1998, and one of the biggest sector ETFs too, with $21 billion in assets. It’s hugely liquid, easy to understand, it’s cheap at 0.13% in expense ratio and it’s well-established as part of the Select Sector SPDRs; clearly, investors like it.



5. Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ)

BOTZ is a wonderkid of sorts among thematic ETFs, being one of the most successful launches in recent years. The fund launched in September 2016, and already has more than $2.5 billion in total assets. It offers access to companies that develop and produce robots or artificial intelligence—some of the hottest themes in investing these days.

BOTZ isn’t the only robotics ETF on the market, competing against the likes of the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO) and the new-to-market First Trust Nasdaq Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF (ROBT), all of which have been popular with investors. But BOTZ, which is significantly cheaper than ROBO at 0.68% in expense ratio versus 0.95%, has outdone its competitors in number of searches at (ROBO clocks in at No. 9).


Charts courtesy of

Contact Cinthia Murphy at [email protected]

Cinthia Murphy is head of digital experience, advocating for the user in all that does. She previously served as managing editor and writer for, specializing in ETF content and multimedia. Cinthia’s experience includes time at Dow Jones and former BridgeNews, covering commodity futures markets in Chicago and Brazil equities in Sao Paulo. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.