While few years ago search engines could provide quality search results for only limited number of words in the query. Today, they can offer a much better experience (driven from better algorithms) which reflected in the rising amount of average words in a query (also known as long-tail keywords).
The great improvements of search engines to deal with long-tail search queries over the past few years have resulted an increased words-in-search behavior by the users- If once people were searching for up to 3 words, now the average search query is leaning towards 4-5 words.
Chitika: Average Search Query Is More Than Four Words
Chitika conducted a research recently to examine the average word count in search queries among the most popular search engines in the United States (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL). The study covered hundreds of millions queries sample in January. Here are the results:
Before analyzing the results based on specific search engine, the most prominent insight that popped in front of my eyes (and surprised me) is the length of the average search query- It is longer than 4 words in all search engines! Long live long-tail keywords!
When we go deeper, we can see that Ask has the highest amount of words in each query (4.81), before Yahoo (4.49), Bing (4.31), Google (4.29) and AOL (4.07) which has the least amount of words in each query. Overall, all search engines are pretty close in the same 20% margin (the first, Ask, is far 18.2% from the last, AOL).
AOL higher rate of average query words is attributed to its general search engine purpose, which is to answer questions. Naturally, questions tend to be longer than a “regular” search. In general, i can also indicate on improved auto-complete features as another reason for the overall rise in the average words in queries.
If we want to find the exact number of average words in search queries at all search engines combined, we need to add their relative weight to the equation. For that purpose i will use the latest search engine market share report where Google has 65.9%, Bing has 15.1%, Yahoo has 14.5%, Ask has 2.9% and AOL has 1.6%. This is the formula:
As you can see, the magic number is about 4.3 words in average for each search query in the U.S.
Long-Tail Keywords – More Traffic, Better Conversion Rate
Lastly, i want to emphasis how important it is to optimize our websites for long-tail keywords. The study is clearly showing that long-tail keywords are the majority of searches among users. Optimizing your websites for these kind of keywords is not only holds a greater potential of traffic but also for a better conversion rate.
According to a prior on-page SEO research i discussed about last month, long-tail keywords converts more than 2.5 times as much as shorter length keywords, because they provide much more accurate answers for the user’s search queries.