The number of words in the average US search query is on the rise, with longer search queries – averaging five or more words in length – increasing 10% overall in January 2009 vs. January 2008, according to data from Hitwise (via MarketingCharts).
The most notable change was in search queries that were eight or more words. These were up 22%. Over the same time period, shorter search queries, averaging 1 to 4 words in length, have decreased 2%, Hitwise said.
Though Hitwise does not offer any explanation for the increasing length of search strings, the phenomenon could potentially be because internet searchers are growing more sophisticated in their searching habits, or might be attributable to the fact that longer searches may now be necessary to find more specific information amid growing web clutter.