Playing catch up a bit here. Let me suggest you download Yahoo’s Analyst Day PDF, which has some interesting stuff inside. (Don’t be too alarmed by the 12mb size….)
One thing worth noting is the chart on Pg. 12 showing 2005 Search Queries by Number of Words, which is up to 3.3 words per query (from 2.5 words per query in 2004 and 1.2 words per query in 1998).
What’s that say to you? Here are a couple things it should tell you:
1.) Searchers are getting smarter. Rather than searching for [blue widgets], which is often too general, they’re searching for [blue widget repair] or [blue widget installation] to get closer to the exact content they want.
2.) This means greater opportunities for a well-planned and well-developed web site to capture “long tail” searchers.
Say what? The “long tail” is all of the smaller and lesser-searched terms that individually may not count for much, but in collective can bring a boatload of traffic to a web site. Focusing on the long tail means going after 10 keywords that bring you 100 visitors each per day, instead of the one Big Keyword that brings 500 visitors per day. Read this Joe Kraus post, Excite and the Long Tail, to understand it better. Seriously. Come back when you’re done….
Okay, so as searchers become smarter and get more detailed in their queries, it means more opportunities for you. So if you create a fantastic page about Blue Widget Installation and a lot of other sites/blogs link to it because it’s so good, then you stand to rank well and gain traffic on searches for that phrase. Your installation page wouldn’t have a chance to get traffic from a general query like [blue widgets], but it could bring traffic from a long tail query like [blue widget installation].