Friday, November 02, 2007

Query Length Growth: The Downward Trend Continues

I write last year about how search query length had, after many years of unbroken growth, had started to slow down. Well, it appears as though John Q. Public continues to use less & less words in their queries. Check out the above data that I put together from seven different OneStat measurements, starting April 2003 and going through October 2007.

The Long Tail is underpinning of virtually every successful search marketing campaign, but I think it's now safe to say that the tail's getting shorter.

Anyone care to venture as to why this is happening, and what, if anything it means?


Blogger Jeremy Mayes said...

Just a couple guesses here...

- Internet users in general expect search engines to be "better" and to find exactly what they are looking for with fewer words.

- New users continue to come online and have less experience with searching and think search engines are better than are.

Maybe a combination of two?

Like I said, just wild guesses. Interesting data though and it makes you think.

11:37 AM

Blogger Adrian said...

I also will also make some wild guesses, but only from personal experience:
As my use of search, primarily through Google, has increased over the past few years, I have found myself refining my own search behaviors.
For instance, I feel I get better results when I put the important keywords first, so I make sure to do that. When I'm not satisfied, instead of adding more words, I look at the words I have chosen and try swap something out for a more relevant term. Sometimes I even shorten the length becuase one word may be unnecessary and, I feel, may be hindering the results. Moreover, as I become well-versed in the vernacular of certain web communities, such as blogs that write about Web 2.0, I have found myself appropriating their 'language' to improve my own results.
I guess I'm getting around to the idea of classical conditioning, in that I modify my behavior from the cues I receive in search. Does that make sense?

I haven't seen you ever really post on the topic, but I'm wondering what this will do for "Web 3.0", which I understand to be a semantic web, which I guess means taking search to natural language queries... because if we're training everyone to keep it to four words and under (which seemed where the bulk of your data was placed), what will happen when we say (in the words of Willy Wonka :P) "Stike that, reverse it: just type naturally"

8:41 AM

Blogger Beth said...

Combination of better search results and more sophisticated search users?

That contradicts Jeremy's theory.

2:46 PM


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