Yahoo: 'Searches more sophisticated and specific'

Yahoo’s future strategy aims at 'driving deeper engagement' with its users through vertical search, personalization, desktop search and social search and believes the increasing sophistication of user search behavior supports the goal.

Yahoo’s future strategy aims at “driving deeper engagement” with its users through vertical search, personalization, desktop search and social search and believes the increasing sophistication of user search behavior supports the goal.

Yahoo’s analyst presentation yesterday underscored that search behavior, as measured by search query length, is now more “sophisticated and specific”: The average search query length was 1.2 words in 1998, 2.5 words in 2004, and is now 3.3 words:

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As search query length grows, conversion rates rise, according to a study released last year by Oneupweb and reported by brandweek.com:

multiple keyword searches, where users input three and four search terms at a time, deliver considerably higher conversion rates than single-term searches

Academic studies show user satisfaction also increases as search query length grows. The paper “Query Length in Interactive Information Retrieval” is available at the UNC School of Information and Library Science:

query length is positively correlated with user satisfaction with the search…longer search queries result in increased search effectiveness in general, indicating that more words from the searcher describing the person’s information problem results in better interactive IR performance

How many words is your average search query? Join the conversation: “Talk Back” below to share your search strategies.

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