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Search Query Length Statistics

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday October 19, 2011 )

Data from Experian Hitwise shows search query lengths of 8 words or more increased 3% in September. It’s a reminder that not all search traffic focuses on one and two keyword searches.

However, while a 3% increase sounds like a lot, the figures were based on queries of 8 words or more being 3.21% in August growing to 3.31% in September; so really, it’s not something the average web site owner should suddenly be excited about chasing.

But combined with other information from Hitwise on search query length as a percentage of searches, there is encouragement for site owners tired of trying to duke it out for one and two keyword top spots on search engines.

1 word – 26.45%
2 words – 23.66%
3 words – 19.34%
4 words – 13.17%
5 words – 7.69%
6 words – 4.12%
7 words – 2.26%

Often, many site owners will chase the single or two keyword terms. That’s fine if you have the time and/or money; but in most sectors, you’ll be up against the big boys. Past the one and two keyword terms there’s still a bunch of traffic to be had that may be easier to target in terms of SEO.

So what are these terms? There’s a number of tools around, some quite expensive, but if you’re looking for a free way to get an idea, try Google’s Keyword Tool. For starters, just enter the most popular term in relation to your business or product and set any advanced filters or options you want. Google will generate a bunch of terms – along with global and regional results if you’ve narrowed down to a specific country.

That’s just the beginning. From there you can copy one of those terms and then find more searches related to that.

Additionally, a “competition” indicator is displayed showing an interest level from merchants in that particular term on Google Adwords.

You can bet that a term showing a lot of competition in Adwords is probably also being battled over in the organic (free) Google listings; but perhaps by digging around a little you may be lucky enough to find a term with decent traffic, little competition worth targeting on your site.

When it comes to multiple word terms (3 or more), lots of competition doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t stand a chance of getting a no.1 rank either. Just pick your battles wisely; run searches, see who’s on top, what their site’s quality is like, who is linking to them and consider your chances of doing better.


Traffic differences in the top 10 search rankings


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