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Long tail searches gain

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday November 29, 2009 )

Internet users appear to be using more keywords in their search queries – and its a continuing trend according to statistics gathered over the past couple of years.

Marketing Charts has reported on data from Experian Hitwise that states search queries containing five to more than eight words in length increased 3% between October and September 2009 among US users.

Shorter queries, those averaging one to four words long, decreased 1% month over month and searches containing just one word amounted to to 24% of all queries.

The tendency towards search queries with more keywords isn’t new – it started becoming apparent early in 2009 when HitWise reported searches of five or more words in length jumped 10% between January 2008 and January 2009 and searches of eight or more words were up a staggering 22%.

I’ve occasionally mentioned that sometimes shooting for the “long tail” of search is more fruitful that gunning for no.1 ranks on one word terms. This is for two reasons:

a) Those in the top few ranks for one word terms usually invest a lot of time and money to get there and will be hard to shift.

b) One word terms can generate a ton of traffic, but how focused it is can be an issue. For example, getting a no.1 rank for a really competitive term such as books might send a slew of traffic your way – but what types of books are these folks after? You may not stock them.

Getting a no.1 ranking on a long tail keyword search can be easier and send very targeted traffic – that’s good in terms of organic rankings, but even better when it comes to PPC (Pay Per Click) as it improves the likelihood of the traffic you’re paying for actually converting. Of course, selecting the right keywords to focus on and having a good landing page is also critical.

The trend indicates a general awareness among users that the more terms they introduce to their query, the greater the likelihood they’ll get to the information they want without having to go through page after page of search engine results.


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