Our searches are getting longer: over the last year longer search queries (over 5 words) has gone up 10%.
And as you would expect, the number of short queries (1 or 2 word phrases) has fallen an average of 4%.
This is good news for small businesses looking optimise their websites. It means your customers are searching for more specific phrases, and your business stands a fighting chance for ranking well for these longer phrases.
This forms part of your “long tail” keyword strategy. One option would be to optimise for phrases that have lots of searches, but also face lots of competition. These phrases typically comprise just one or two words, for example “solicitor” or “hotel.” Your chance of ranking well for these phrases? Nil. The chance the customer really wants your specific business? Low.
The alternative, or the “long tail” is to optimise for those more specific phrases that show intention on the part of the searcher. There will be fewer searches taking place, but there will also be less competition, and thus a chance of ranking well in Google.
If somebody is searching for “short break golfing luxury guest house” then are they showing intention to buy? Yes. Does the right business stand a chance of ranking well in the search results? Yup. Are there lots of people searching for this phrase? Nope, but capturing those few, perfect searches will be highly profitable for that business.
And this recent Hitwise data confirms yet again that it is worth the effort going for those long tail phases.
Hitwise tracked 10 million US users, but I think it would be reasonable to draw some conclusions regarding our British behaviour.