In a move that indicates search queries are becoming more targeted, recent Hitwise data shows that longer search queries have been getting popular over the past year. Queries averaging 5+ words in length, have increased 10 percent compared to figures from January 2008. The Hitwise graph below gives a breakdown on the percentage change for different keyword lengths:
As you can see, smaller search terms (1-3 words) experienced negative growth while search terms consisting of 4+ words all experienced some form of positive growth. The longer tail of search with 8+ search terms was the biggest winner growing by around 22 per cent.
I believe this is good news for webmasters, as it begins to open up more “long tail” search queries. These are longer search terms which are less frequently searched, but also experience much less competition than popular terms. It can be very easy to get your site on the first page of Google for these longer terms, which means more opportunities for webmasters to create content that captures these terms.
This is also good news for local businesses that have a presence online. As customers continue to move from the print yellow pages to online search, longer local search terms will become more popular which again gives these businesses a better chance to rank for these terms. Overall I believe this trend will continue as users become more sophisticated in how they search across major search engines like Google Yahoo! and MSN.