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Words, Words, and More Words

March 16, 2009  

A new trend uncovered by Hitwise reveals that search queries on all major search engines are starting to get longer and longer. In a recent study, the measurement firm found that searchers are typing four or more words at an increasing rate to find what they're looking for. Searches using five words, for example, are up 6 percent, while those using eight or more words have risen by 22 percent. Overall, longer search queries have increased 10 percent over the past year.

Meanwhile, using one- and two-word search queries is dropping in popularity. Two-word queries are down 5 percent, while one-word searches dropped 3 percent. Searches using three words have stayed the same in terms of frequency.

"This is an interesting trend, and it could be interpreted in a variety of ways," writes Frederic Lardinois in a ReadWriteWeb post. "This could mean that a growing number of users [are] finding less value in the search results they get from relatively unspecific, short queries. It could also indicate that users are becoming more sophisticated in how they structure their queries when they are looking for very specific answers."

As Matt McGee in a SearchEngineLand article puts it, "The so-called long tail of search continues to get longer."


The Point: More words can mean more money! "As searchers get more sophisticated in how they use Google, Yahoo, Live Search, etc., it opens up more opportunities for webmasters and marketers to create content and/or ads that capture these longer search queries," says McGee.

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