Reps from comScore, Nielsen Online, and Hitwise spoke last week in a “SearchScape” session at SMX West, and while they all shared some interesting numbers, it was Bill Tancer of Hitwise who really opened my eyes with data about searcher behavior.
The long tail is getting longer; 1- and 2-word queries are on the decline, while 4- and 5-word queries are rising. Even 3-word queries are down slightly, but not enough (in my opinion) to call it part of the trend just yet. Here’s Bill’s chart from last week’s session:
Words/Query 2009 2008 2007 1 word 20.4% 21.1% 24.5% 2 words 23.6% 24.9% 25.7% 3 words 21.8% 21.9% 20.7% 4 words 14.9% 14.5% 13.3% 5 words 8.7% 8.2% 7.5%
Four-word queries are up 12% since 2007, and five-word queries are up 16%.
This fits in with a point I made during my presentation on hyperlocal blogging, and which I wrote about on Hyperlocal Blogger — namely, that people are searching for everything online, and our local blogs are seeing a wide variety of long-tail queries bringing searchers to our blogs.
Update, Feb. 24th: Hitwise has formally published & updated the numbers from this SMX West presentation. I’ve written about it (pretty chart included) on Search Engine Land.
One More Thing…
The other eye-popping stat from this session was shared by comScore’s Eli Goodman:
Yahoo Answers, About.com, and Answers.com received more than 169 million search click-throughs in December, 2008. That’s a lot of clicks going to answer/reference sites.