Lee Odden

Study Shows Online Search Queries Becoming More Complex

Lee Odden     Online Marketing

According to a study conducted by OneStat, two- and three-word searches are the norm for Web searchers. Nearly 33 percent of a sample of 2 million Web searchers monitored in the past two months used
two-word queries and 26 percent used three-word queries.

Another thing I would like to add here is that, in my opinion and based on experiences with our clients and our own online marketing, more specific search phrases tend to convert at a much higher rate than broad search phrases. Queries on general terms typically yield clicks on most first page results as the searcher is “kicking tires” for web sites that contain the desired information. With a more specific query, the likelihood of conversion is greater because the intent is to find a very specific item. When a search results matches the search term exactly, the searcher drills down into a specific site to conclude the search.

Example: A search for “cell phones”. A search on such a broad term does not indicate the searcher has enough of a preference developed to indicate intention to take action. The searcher is very likely to view many different search results until something stands out and a more specific preference is developed.

A search for “nokia cell phones” indicates a basic preference and has a slightly better chance to convert. The searcher knows they want a Nokia cell phone, it’s just a matter of which one.

A search for “Nokia 6800” returns exact matches for a specific model. The more specific preference of the searcher indicates a stronger intention to take action.

With the changes in Google’s method of ranking web sites in the past few months, general search terms rarely result in commercial web sites dominating first page results. The trend is more towards non-commercial sites that are flavored more for information than commerce. However, specific queries do return commerce focused sites.

From an online marketing strategy perspective, it may be more productive to focus on many unique and specific phrases rather than going for general terms. The result may be less unique visitors, but increased conversion rates. Plus, it was a difficult task to achieve first page results with general, popular terms in the past, now it’s even more challenging since Google emphasizes non-commercial sites in the search results for general terms.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.